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Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 1:53pm

Flavor Of Georgia Winners Aim To Take Foods To The National Level

A cheddar cheese from east Georgia is the grand prize winner in this year’s Flavor of Georgia contest.

The annual Flavor of Georgia competition brings together culinary entrepreneurs from all over the state for a food judging and public tasting.

This year’s contest boasted a number of unique foods and flavors from across the state, but some of these finalists don’t want to stop at just state-wide recognition--they want national fame.

Tim Young with Nature’s Harmony Farm in Elberton won the top honors with his Georgia Gold Clothbound Cheddar Cheese.

The Elberton farm ages the Georgia Gold cheddar for 11 months, but Young said the mix of flavors is what makes this cheese unique.

“Right now, my cows are out there eating wild onions. They’re eating chicory, they’re eating clover. And all those things contribute very delicate flavors to the milk that we’re able to coax from the cheese,” Young said. “So when you taste this cheese, you’ll taste a lot of flavor elements, and you’re not really sure what you they are. And to be honest, neither am I.”

The process of cheddaring dates back to 12th century England, which is famous for its aged cheddar cheeses. Young wants to bring the same type of fame to Georgia Gold Clothbound cheese.

“Our mission is not to make cheese that you walk away and say ‘hey, that’s pretty good for Georgia cheese.' We’re trying to make exceptional, world-class cheese that’s as good as anything anywhere,” Young said.

Another food entrepreneur wants to fuse a popular Georgia snack and an even more popular sauce.

Robert Fisher is the marketing director of Hardy Peanuts, Inc. in Hawkinsville. Their product: a Sriracha rub for boiled peanuts.

“We’re introducing a Southern Sriracha boiled peanut rub to the marketplace with the goal of taking boiled peanuts from a southern thing to a national snack food,” Fisher said.

He said Hardy Farms is in place at the right time to gain national fame for their peanut rub.

“We don’t know of any other company, in the research that we’ve done, that’s trying to take a boiled peanut to a national level,” Fisher said.

“When you look at the food and wine magazines and the publications that talk about what’s hot, what’s trending right now-New York, LA, San Francisco- they’re all using boiled peanuts on the table as appetizer. It’s incredible. It’s all over the place, but it’s not mainstream.”

A panel of grocery-store buyers and food professionals picked this year’s Flavor of Georgia winners.

All 35 finalists will now be able to include the 2014 Flavor of Georgia logo on their products.

Looking to do your own Flavor of Georgia tasting? Here is the complete list of winners to help you get started.

Overall Winner: Georgia Gold Clothbound Cheddar Cheese; Nature’s Harmony; Elberton, Ga.

People’s Choice Award: Raspberry-Jalapeno Jam; Leoci’s; Savannah, Ga.

Adult Beverages: Richland Rum; Richland Distilling Company; Richland, Ga.

BBQ Sauces: Causey’s Sweet N’Smokey BBQ Sauce; Causey Foods, Inc.; The sauce was created in Vienna, Ga. where they still operate a restaurant, but their product is distributed from Smyrna, Ga.

Beverages: Organic Blueberry Juice; Byne Blueberry Farms; Waynesboro, Ga.

Confections: Peachy Keen Pecan Praline; Loose Sugar Bakery; Harrison, Ga.

Dairy Products: Georgia Gold Clothbound Cheddar Cheese; Nature’s Harmony; Elberton, Ga.

Jams & Jellies: Cinnamon Honey Spread; Weeks Honey Farm; Omega, Ga.

Marinades & Sauces: GA Mustard Marinade; Q Sauce, LLC; Dacula, Ga.

Meat & Seafood: Pork Vidalia Onion Sausage; Ogeechee Meat Market; Savannah, Ga.

Miscellaneous: Southern Sriracha Boiled Peanut Rub; Hardy Peanuts; Hawkinsville, Ga.

Salsas, Chutneys & Condiments: Sweet Onion Confit; Preserving Place; Atlanta.

Snack Foods: Georgia Blues Blueberry & Peach Bar; M Chocolat; Alpharetta, Ga.