Lazar Oglesby brought her lemon blueberry crumble cheesecake creation to Athens Tuesday to compete as a finalist in the “Baked Goods” category of the 2023 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest.
After she presented her product to a panel of judges and they tasted the dessert, Oglesby had a nerve-wracking wait to see if the judges preferred her cheesecake over two other finalists. They did.
Representing Honey Specialties, Oglesby said she believes her use of fresh Georgia blueberries put her dessert over-the-top in the eyes of the judges.
“I think the use of Georgia grown blueberries from Byne’s Blueberry Farm in Burke County made our product shine,” she said. “We brightened the overall flavor profile with a lemon crumble and lemon zest. The bright flavors are perfect for a spring/summer dessert.”
Each year, the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences holds the Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest. UGA describes the contest as the “state’s proving ground for small, upstart food companies as well as established products looking for recognition or new markets. This year’s finalists represent all corners of the state and the best of Georgia’s diverse culinary heritage.”
In addition to the “wonderful experience” of earning first place for her cheesecake, Oglesby said she found the contest very helpful as a small-business owner, especially interacting with other owners.
“Flavor of Georgia was a great experience,” she said. “I met other small business owners from across the state. We shared our small business triumphs and struggles. We were able to offer advice and pick each other’s brains about struggles in small business. I learned valuable information to help my business in the future.”
Oglesby started Honey Catering more than 10 years ago and Honey Specialties is now the umbrella business name for Honey Catering and two Statesboro restaurants – Honey Too and Dolan’s Barbecue, which Oglesby owns with her sister Mary Beth Brown.
Also, Oglesby discovered some food items at the event that she will make available locally.
“I fell in love with some of the products that were showcased,” she said. “I plan to carry them in our Statesboro location.”
At Tuesday’s contest finals, judges included food brokers, grocery buyers and other food product experts. “Entries were evaluated by category based on their Georgia theme, commercial appeal, taste, innovation and market potential.”
Oglesby said her lemon blueberry crumble cheesecake is available now at Dolan’s Barbecue restaurant on South Main St. and can be shipped nationwide, too, on the Goldbelly.com website.