By Lillian Dickens —the communications, public relations and program coordinator for the UGA Department of Food Science and Technology.
Judges tasted their way through 124 products entered by 82 Georgia businesses in the first round of judging for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ annual Flavor of Georgia food product contest on March 10, selecting 36 finalists who will compete in the final round of competition on March 28.
Since its inception in 2007, the competition has acted as a launching pad for small businesses around the state. Including this year’s group, as many as 1,650 products have been entered.
“It’s really good to connect with all these small businesses and see the innovation of some of these people,” said Isa Gutierrez, program coordinator for the Department of Food Science and Technology Extension office, who also plans the yearly event.
Submitted food products are judged across 12 categories based on flavor, texture and ingredient profile. Judges also consider marketability, how the product appeals to the consumer and how well the product represents Georgia.
“There was a company that made strawberry lemonade marmalade at last year’s competition called We Bee Jammin’ — now known as Christie B’s Jams and Jellies,” Gutierrez said of the company that captured first place in the Jams and Jellies category at the 2022 finals. “It was so fun to watch people come up and say ‘Whoa, how did you think of this?’ … It’s great to see how these businesses bloom after the competition.”
2023 Flavor of Georgia finalists
This year’s finalists are listed by company, product name and hometown within the 12 competition categories. Each product comes from a company based in Georgia.
- Lady Belle Macarons, Gritscuits – Smoked Gouda and Garlic, Stone Mountain
- Suga’s Enterprises, Suga’s Pimento Cheesecake, Powder Springs
- Honey Specialties, Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake, Millen
- Savannah Bee Company, Honey Habanero BBQ Sauce, Savannah
- Oconee Creations, Oconee Gold White Gold, Statham
- Davis’ Sauces, Davis’ 1929 Sauce, Peachtree City
- Deer Creek Farm, Blue Harvest Tea, Covington
- Yardie Beverages, Ginger Beer, Suwanee
- HIBO, Energize Original, Bishop
Condiments, Sauces and Seasonings
- Jar Masala, Garden Masala, Snellville
- Braswell Food Company, Vidalia Onion Steak Sauce, Statesboro
- Amici Food Group, Honey Hot Sauce For Wings and other Things, Madison
- Maybird Confections, Dark Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Toffee, Alpharetta
- RoHo Bakery, Give Me S’more, Decatur
- Brittle Brittle Bakeries, Pecan Brittle, Fort Gaines
- Dulce Gelato, Probiotic- Kefir Gelato, Woodstock
- Gatherings, Kimchi Pimento Cheese, Decatur
- The Cheese Plant at Hidden Creek Farm, Brasstown Bold – Double Blaze Appalachian Goat Cheese Peppered Honey, Blairsville
Honey and Syrups
- White Oak Pastures, Cane Syrup, Bluffton
- Barlow’s, Peach Cobbler Syrup, Atlanta
- L. Franklin’s Honey, Cinnamon Creamed Honey, Statesboro
Jams and Jellies
- Elusive Jams, PEARadise Jam, Carrollton
- Christy B’s Jams & Jellies, Peaches ‘n Whiskey Preserves, Pooler
- Georgia Jams, Georgia Scorcher Pepper Spread, Williamson
Meats and Seafood
- Jensen Reserve, Biltong Style Bresaola Make Your Own Charcuterie Kit, Loganville
- White Oak Pastures, Beef Jerky, Bluffton
- Rocking Chair Ranch Cattle, Smoked Biltong, Forsyth
- Sweet Treats Cannery, Blueberry Lavender Pie Filling, Springfield
- Woodpecker Trail Olive Farm, First Press Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Glennville
- Tey’s Southern Treats, Southern Fillings, Conyers
Pickled Vegetables, Relish and Salsas
- Point Blank Pepper Company, Hallow Rings, Marietta
- Crazy Nay’s, South Ga Redneck Caviar, Baxley
- Sully’s Slammin Fresh Salsa, Mild Fresh Salsa, Roswell
- All the Fixin’s, Burnin’ Slap Up Spicy Pecans, Twin City
- CaJa Popcorn, Vadouvan Curry Popcorn, Smyrna
- The Savannah Cheese Straw Company, Cheese Straws, Savannah
The best of Georgia on display for all
The final round of Flavor of Georgia will take place in downtown Athens at The Classic Center. Finalists face a full day of judging and networking with other finalists, including a “Shark Tank”-style panel of judges to pitch their products.
“The Flavor of Georgia contest is a unique opportunity for the Department of Food Science and Technology to engage with food entrepreneurs from around the state of Georgia,” said Manpreet Singh, food science and technology department head. “The contest serves as a resource to assist the local food industry with product development and prepares entrepreneurs to have their products market-ready.”
For the first time, the award ceremony and reception will be open to the public. Attendees will get to sample the cream of the crop from the competition before the winners from each category and the overall contest winner is announced.