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Gainesville's Southern Baked Pie Company takes top prize at UGA's Flavor of Georgia By Merritt Melancon

Amanda Wilbanks, owner of Gainseville’s Southern Baked Pie Company, baked her way to the grand prize with her caramel pecan pie in the University of Georgia’s 2016 Flavor of Georgia Contest.

The annual contest, conducted by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, is a chance for food businesses to showcase their new products.

A team of food industry experts and grocery buyers chose Wilbanks’ caramel pecan pie as the best of 33 finalists. They rated the products on qualities including innovation, use of Georgia theme, market potential and flavor.

In addition to the grand prize, Wilbanks also won first place in the confections category.

Governor Nathan Deal, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean and Director Sam Pardue congratulated the category and grand prizewinners as part of Georgia Agriculture Awareness Day at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta.

“We had over 100 products submitted this year and some of the toughest competition we’ve seen in the contest’s 10 year history,” said Sharon P. Kane, Flavor of Georgia contest coordinator. “The 33 products represented are truly the best of the best.”

For more information about Southern Baked Pie Company, formerly known as Buttermilk Pie Company, visit www.buttermilkpieco.com.

The winners are listed below by prize name, product name, company name, company representatives and town.

  • Grand Prize Winner and Confections: Southern Baked Pie Company (formerly Buttermilk Pie Company, Caramel Pecan Pie, Amanda Wilbanks, Gainesville
  • People's Choice Award: Carroll’s Sausage and Meats, Medium Smoke Link Sausage, Johnny Walker, Ashburn
  • Barbecue Sauces: Joe Kem’s BBQ, Joe Kem’s Barbecue Sauce, Joe Kem Lacey, Moultrie
  • Beverages: Paulk’s Pride 100 percent White Muscadine Juice, Muscadine Products Corporation, Erin Boettger, Wray
  • Dairy Products: Revolution Gelato, Nekkid Espresso Dairy-Free Gelato, Revolution Gelato, Jared Olkin, Atlanta
  • Honey: Bruce’s Nut N Honey Farm/The Honey Shack, Papa's Private Selection Honey 100 percent Pure, Raw, Unfiltered; Ben Bruce, Homerville
  • Jams and Jellies: Wisham Jellies, Wild Mayhaw Pepper Jelly, Eric Wisham, Tifton
  • Marinades, Sauces and Rubs: The Salt Table, Leek, Chive and Onion Dip and Seasoning Blend, David and Carol Legasse, Savannah
  • Meat and Seafood: Hunter Cattle Company, Hot Georgia Night Sausage, Del Ferguson, Brooklet
  • Miscellaneous: Beautiful Briny Sea, Pocketful of Starlight Vanilla Sugar, Atlanta
  • Salsas, Chutneys and Condiments: Abby J’s Gourmet, Abby J’s Blackhawk Field to Fork Sweet Fire Pickles, Abby Jackson, Clarkesville
  • Snack Foods: Marsh Cabin Bakery, Kim’s Cheese Straws—Pecan Cheddar, Kim Kaiser, Statesboro

Showcase events like the 2016 Flavor of Georgia competition help entrepreneurs spread the word about their products. Many participants have landed spots in regional and national grocery chains like Whole Foods, Ingles, Fresh Market, Earth Fare, Kroger and Harvey’s.

Category winners received an award and membership in the state Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program, statewide notoriety and bragging rights. All winners and finalists earn the right to have their products stamped with the 2016 Flavor of Georgia logo. They also gain exposure to grocery buyers and food industry professionals who judge the final round of the contest.

The Flavor of Georgia food product contest is sponsored by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development in partnership with Gourmet Foods International, Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, the Office of the Governor, Walton EMC, the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Agribusiness Council.

More information about this year’s contest can be found at flavorofga.com or by following @Flavor_of_GA on Twitter. For photos of the event, visit www.flickr.com/photos/ugacommunications/albums/72157663387726954.

(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Flavor of Georgia Winner 2016
Flavor of Georgia Winner 2016

Amanda Wilbanks, owner of Southern Baked Pie Company in Gainesville, accepts her University of Georgia Flavor of Georgia grand prize trophy from Gov. Nathan Deal, UGA College of Agricultural and and Environmental Sciences Dean Sam Pardue and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary 0017 Black Tuesday March 15. 35E0

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Amanda Wilbanks, owner of Southern Baked Pie Company in Gainesville, accepts her University of Georgia Flavor of Georgia grand prize trophy from Gov. Nathan Deal, UGA College of Agricultural and and Environmental Sciences Dean Sam Pardue and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black Tuesday March 15. Download Image
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