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Georgia's best new foods go head-to-head

By Faith Peppers
University of Georgia

It was steamy in the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta on March 20. It may have been the warm spring day outside or the heated competition raging inside.

The first annual Flavor of Georgia food contest pitted Hot Tar, Inc.’s Heat Factor sauce against Smack Yo Mama LLC’s Georgia Gold Honey Mustard. Byrd Cookie Company’s Georgia Peach Cookies stared down Earth’s Treasures’ Edible Candy Dough.

In the end, only eight could come out winners.

The contest created by faculty in the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development and Department of Food Science and Technology was just what these budding foodies needed.

“It was a way to highlight new and innovative food products and businesses that use Georgia commodities,” said Sharon Kane, a food business development specialist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “The contest also serves as a way to link these entrepreneurs with brokers, retailers and others involved in the food marketing distribution channels.”

The contest had eight categories: natural or organic products; jams, jellies and sauces; barbecue and hot sauces; confections; wine; meat products; snack foods and other foods.

“We had an exceptional response with over 150 products submitted from all over Georgia,” Kane said. “It was a difficult judging process given the high quality of products entered. The judges had very positive comments about everyone that was a semifinalist.”

The original 150 entries were narrowed to 28 semifinalists, who prepared and served their dishes at the event which coincided with Georgia’s Ag Day. A panel of judges picked the eight category winners and one grand prize winner, Bradley Creek Seafood’s Low-country pastry.

The winners were:

Natural or organic products: Savannah Bee Co., tupelo honey.

Jams, jellies and sauces: Byne Blueberry Farm, Waynesboro, Ga., Blueberry Salsa.

Barbecue or hot sauce: R.P. Hill Exotic Sauce Co., Atlanta, Brandy Mandarin Orange BBQ sauce.

Confections: The Byrd Cookie Co., Savannah, Georgia Peach Cookies.

Wine: Persimmon Creek Vineyard, Clayton, Ga., Late Harvest Reisling.

Meat product and Grand Prize Winner: Bradley Creek Seafood, Savannah, Low-country pastry.

Snack food: Bodacious Food Co., Jasper, Ga., traditional cheese straws.

Other: Vidalia Brands Inc., Reidsville, Ga., onion and spinach quiche.

If you and your newest food creation missed this year’s contest, don’t give up. There’s always next year. “Anyone in Georgia who has a product they know will be a winner, should look for the call for entries for the 2008 contest sometime this fall,” Kane said.

The Flavor of Georgia was sponsored by the UGA CAED, CAES Department of Food Science and Technology, Gov. Sonny Perdue’s Agricultural Advisory Commission and the Georgia Rural Development Council.

For more information about the Flavor of Georgia contest, Food Science Extension Outreach Program website at www.efsonline.uga.edu/.

(Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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