Each fall, the Good Food Awards announces its list of finalists. Every year since it started in 2010, some North Carolina companies are on that list.
Eleven North Carolina companies are finalists for Good Food Awards this year, an annual effort to recognize “tasty, authentic and responsibly produced” foods. The awards seek to recognize companies not only committed to sustainability and social good, but also for producing delicious food and beverages.
The nationwide contest honors products in 11 categories: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, pickles, preserve, spirits, oil and honey. The list of 207 finalists will be winnowed to 150 winners, which will be announced Jan. 8 at a ceremony in San Francisco.
The noteworthy part this year is that three of those N.C. businesses are based in Hillsborough. That’s an astounding fact once you realize that Hillsborough is home to only about 6,400 people.
“How cool is it that this tiny town with 6,000 people is putting out these amazing products,” said Erik Lars Myers, owner of Mystery Brewing Co., one of the three Hillsborough-based honorees. Mystery Brewing Co. is a finalist for its Evangeline Saison, a Belgium-style beer.
The other two Hillsborough-based finalists are Two Chicks Farm for a spicy pepper jelly and Farmer’s Daughter Brand for a sweet corn and pepper relish and a strawberry-honeysuckle jam, which previously earned a Good Food Award in 2012. April McGreger of Farmer’s Daughter Brand has won a total of four Good Food Awards, the most of any North Carolina company.
Myers, who also chairs Hillsborough’s Tourism Board, is especially proud of how the city has grown in recent years. “There’s a beautiful synthesis of local production and local preparation,” Myers said of farmers and restaurants. “It’s not just Panciuto anymore.”
Myers is referring to chef Aaron Vandemark’s restaurant, a longtime Hillsborough standout for fine dining. Vandemark has been a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation best chef in the Southeast award four years in a row.
Beyond Panciuto, Myers points to Coon Rock Farm with its home delivery service, Bella Bean Organics, as well as its mail order company, Heirloom Provisions. Plus, Myers said, there’s Radius Pizzeria & Pub, Hillsborough BBQ Co. and La Place, a Cajun restaurant known for its sausages.
All of this adds up to one thing: Hillsborough is becoming a tasty destination.