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June 10, 2022

Grandy Organics, American Unagi earn top honors in Golden Fork Awards

people and plaques Courtesy / Kevin Fahrman/Foreside Photography From left, Maine Center for Entrepreneurs Executive Director Tom Rainey; Shovel and Spoon co-owners Tomer Kilchevsky, Courtney Perry and Dolev Kilchevsky, Grandy Organics owner Aaron Anker and marketing manager Evan Connolly, American Unagi President and founder Sara Rademaker, and FocusMaine President Kimberly Hamilton.

Maine foods are no longer simply about lobsters and blueberries.

Products made with eels and coconut, as well as a Middle Eastern style of yogurt, are won top recognition in the the first Maine Golden Fork Awards.

Taking top spot as "Retail Best in Show" was Original Coconola by Grandy Organics, a Hiram-based granola producer that earlier this year changed its name from GrandyOats. The product uses coconut as the base as opposed to more-conventional oats and grains.

Named "Foodservice Best in Show" was Alder Smoked American Eel, made by American Unagi, an aquaculture company in Waldoboro that cultivates and sells locally sourced, Maine-grown eels.

Traditionally, Maine's baby eels would be exported to Asia to be grown and several years later would be shipped back to the U.S. as adults eels. But now American Unagi has started raising the baby eels in land-based aquaculture systems at its Waldoboro plant. The smoked eel product is promoted as having a high natural fat content paired with a salt brine and smoke flavor, rich in proteins and high in Vitamin A and D, to create a product that can be served as an appetizer, salad topper or entrée.

Taking the "Best New Product" award was Middle East Coast Labneh, a tangy yogurt made by Shovel and Spoon, a farm-to-table catering business in Limington.

The winners were announced live at Thursday’s Maine Food Producer Showcase hosted by the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs and Coastal Enterprises at Thompson’s Point.

Some 300 people attended the B2B event, which showcased 42 of Maine’s emerging Food and Beverage companies participating in MCE Food Accelerator and CEI Tastemaker Programs.

Twenty-eight of the 42 companies participating in the showcase entered products into one of the three award categories.   

Product entries represented a variety of food categories, including grains, produce, proteins, pasta, sauces, seafood, sweets, snacks and beverages. Products were made across nine Maine counties.

The winners were chosen in a blind tasting by a panel of food industry judges based on exceptional taste and quality.

The awards are part of a partnership between MCE, CEI and FocusMaine to accelerate the creation of jobs in Maine’s food economy.

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