Adriana Coppola, a native Italian now living in Johns Creek, won the grand prize in the University of Georgia’s 2015 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest with her A&A Alta Cucina Italia Balsamico al Mirtillo, a blueberry balsamic vinegar reduction.
The annual contest, conducted by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, is a chance for food businesses to showcase their new products.
Coppola launched Alta Cucina, her line of authentic Italian gourmet products, to celebrate family traditions and love for fresh ingredients, which she learned from her parents, she said.
The reduction was one of 30 Georgia products selected as finalists from the more than 100 entries from across the state submitted to the 2015 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest.
In addition to the grand prize, A&A Alta Cucina Italia Balsamico al Mirtillo also received the category award for best salsa, chutney or condiment.
Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean and Director J. Scott Angle announced the category and grand prize winners as part of Georgia Agriculture Awareness Day at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta.
“Though hundreds of food products have come through the Flavor of Georgia contest since 2007, Georgians just keep coming up with a new ‘crop’ of excellent entries each year,” said Sharon P. Kane, Flavor of Georgia contest coordinator.
In addition to the grand prize, judges awarded prizes in each food product category. A people’s choice award was given based on votes cast during a public tasting Tuesday morning.
The awards are listed below by prize name, product name, company name, company representative and town.
- People’s Choice Award: Wisham Jellies, Cranberry Pepper Jelly, Eric Wisham, Tifton.
- Barbecue Sauces: Causey’s Hot BBQ Sauce, Causey Foods Inc., Wynn Causey Bakke, Smyrna. (The sauce was created in Vienna where the Causeys still operate a restaurant.)
- Beverages: Paulk’s Pride 100% Purple Muscadine Juice, Muscadine Products Corporation, Erin Boettger, Wray.
- Confections: Georgia Peach Cookies, Byrd Cookie Company, Geoff Repella, Savannah.
- Dairy Products: Get Back Jack Pimento Cheese, Proper Pepper, Deanna Bibb, Sandersville.
- Jams and Jellies: Strawberry Lavender Jam, Fairywood Thicket Farm, Kim and John Conner, Fairburn.
- Marinades and Sauces: Tybee Island Coastal Blend, The Salt Table, Carol and Dave Legasse, Pooler.
- Meat and Seafood: Grassfed New York Strip Steak, Hunter Cattle Company, Del Ferguson, Brooklet.
- Miscellaneous: Georgia Wildflower Honeycomb, Zeigler’s Honey Company, Robert Edmondson, Stockton.
- Salsas, Chutneys and Condiments: Balsamico Al Mirtillo, A&A Alta Cucina Italia, Adriana Coppola, Johns Creek.
- Snack Foods: Savannah Snaps, Verdant Kitchen, Ross Harding, Savannah.
Food industry experts, including grocery buyers, food service personnel and agricultural marketing executives, rated Alta Cucina Italia’s Balsamico al Mirtillo and the other products based on innovation, use of Georgia theme, market potential and flavor.
Showcase events like the 2015 Flavor of Georgia competition help entrepreneurs spread the word about their products. Many have landed spots in regional and national grocery chains like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Earth Fare, Kroger and Harvey’s.
Winners received membership in the state department of agriculture’s Georgia Grown program. All winners and finalists earn the right to have their products stamped with the 2015 Flavor of Georgia logo and 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 the 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 www.flavorofga.com or on Twitter @Flavor_of_GA. For more photos of this year’s Flavor of Georgia contest, see http://www.flickr.com/photos/ugacommunications/sets.