From meats and sweets to beers and ciders, the Good Food Awards celebrate the finer things in life made the right way.
Many of those finer things are made in North Carolina, whose purveyors and artisans took home several awards at a ceremony Friday night in San Francisco.
The Good Food Awards have been handed out annually since 2012, honoring tasty and creative food stuffs that are made with a commitment to sustainable practices, often emphasizing relationships with local farmers.
This year, 10 North Carolina companies won 14 awards for everything from hot sauce to strawberry preserves. Of the 15 categories, they took home awards in six.
It was a historic night in particular for Durham’s Fullsteam Brewery, whose beers won three Good Food Awards and whose chef also won one for his hot sauce. National beer giants, like Allagash in Maine and Perennial Artisan Ales in Missouri, also took home awards, but no brewery has ever won three in a single year.
Fullsteam won for three of its Farm’s Edge beers, which are brewed in collaboration with local farmers and often well off of beer’s beaten path. The winners were Alexis, a blackberry Brett saison; Brumley Forest, a Baltic porter brewed with foraged walnuts and hickory nuts; and Dinnsen’s Orchard, a Belgian tripel brewed with paw paw fruit. They all cleared the Good Food Awards’ environmental and social vetting and a blind taste test.
“It’s a huge validation,” said Sean Lilly Wilson, Fullsteam’s owner, who previously accepted Good Food Awards in 2013 and 2016. “We work really hard on this thing we call a Southern Beer Economy, where we’re supporting local farmers and the agricultural community and our employees in the way we make our beers,” Wilson said. “It’s encouraging to know that’s recognized and to share that spotlight with other breweries we respect and admire in how they run their business.”
Fullsteam’s chef, Kyle McKnight, won for his hot sauce Dusty Foothills in the Pantry category.
Elsewhere around the Triangle, Carrboro-based cheesemaker Boxcarr won two awards for its Campo and Winsome cheeses. Chapel Hill’s Lady Edison won two awards for its collaboration with Greensboro’s San Giuseppe Salami Company, a sweet soppressata and a Spanish-style chorizo.
Pittsboro’s Fiddlehead Farm was recognized for its strawberry preserves. In the Confections category, Raleigh’s Escazu Artisan Chocolates won for its Earl Grey dark chocolate ganache, and Chapel Hill’s Chocolatay Confections won for its sunflower crunch cup.
“There’s this collective economy of scope in the products (North Carolina companies) specialize in and where they’re made in the state,” Wilson said. “What’s next is an economy of scale, where we can bring up and encourage local purchasing from farms doing true diversification.
“There’s so much talk of where the next Amazon headquarters will be, but what if we put that same creative energy into our local industries? We are a nation of small businesses, and here we have this collective of food and drink businesses. That’s a North Carolina opportunity, to be on the same playing field as California or Oregon when it comes to food and drink businesses.”
On Saturday, Jan. 27, Fullsteam is hosting a mini-market from 2 to 5 p.m. to showcase many of the state’s winners and finalists from the Good Food Awards. Eighteen companies will be present. The brewery is at 726 Rigsbee Ave., Durham.
GOOD FOOD AWARD WINNERS
▪ Fullsteam Brewery, Durham: Farm’s Edge: Alexis, Farm’s Edge: Brumley Forest & Farm’s Edge: Dinnsen’s Orchard
▪ American Pig, Asheville: Picante Salami & Lomo
▪ Boxcarr Handmade Cheese, Hillsborough: Campo & Winsome
▪ Looking Glass Creamery, Buncombe County: Bear Wallow
▪ Chocolatay Confections, Chapel Hill: Sunflower Crunch Cup
▪ Escazu Artisan Chocolates, Raleigh: Earl Grey Dark Chocolate Ganache & Orange Star Anise
▪ Nena’s Provisions, Durham: Dusty Foothills Chili Sauce
▪ Fiddlehead Farm, Pittsboro: Roasted Strawberry Preserves
▪ Pick and Preserve, Buncombe County: Peach NC Apple Brandy Butter
BY DREW JACKSON, News&Observer