Debra McFadden-Bryant, owner of Geechee Girl Foods took first place in the the 2012 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest.
ALBANY — Debra McFadden-Bryant, owner of Geechee Girl Foods, has taken the top prize in the meat category of the 2012 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest with her packaged Seafood Gumbo.
Category winners were announced this week by Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and Gov. Nathan Deal.
The annual contest is conducted by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development and is an opportunity for food businesses to showcase new products, learn business techniques and meet leaders in the food industry.
“Flavor of Georgia is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to gain publicity and exposure for their products,” said Sharon P. Kane, food business development specialist with the UGA Center of Agribusiness and Economic Development.
McFadden-Bryant developed her signature gumbo recipe from hours spent on the telephone with relatives who live in coastal South Carolina, where she grew up.
“I used the process of developing the recipe to stay connected to my family,” she said. “We would cook over the phone, trying one thing or the next, based on suggestions and results.”
McFadden-Bryant’s goal is to market a boil-in-bag version of the winning gumbo — along with additional developing products — to fresh markets and delis.
McFadden-Bryant, who had been notified earlier of her position as a finalist in the competition, said that final judging of the products was by a team of 15 - 20 individuals — made up mostly of food professionals.
McFadden-Bryant said she planned to take a little time to “sit back and think” about the implications of her win and the opportunities to advance her business.
Another area winner was Lauri Jo Bennett, whose muscadine pepper jelly took first place in the Jam, Jelly and Sauce category. Bennett is the owner of Lauri Jo’s Southern Style Canning and Marketplace in Norman Park.