Made in Virginia 2019 Awards: Food Winners

24 products made by skilled, enthusiastic, and creative Virginians.

Java Food Co. Java Dust, BS Grillin’ Company barbecue sauces and relishes, and Farmstead Ferments Curtido Kraut.

Photography by Fred + Elliott

BS Grillin’ Company

Kickin’ Pineapple BBQ Sauce, Smokin’ Chipotle BBQ Sauce, Blazin’ Pepper Relish, and Sweet Zucchini Relish, Lynchburg

AJ Richards grew up with severe food allergies. Tired of having to worry over ingredients and buy two of everything for her household, she decided to create her own. “I thought, this is such a waste,” she says. “I vowed I was going to make a product that you can use no matter your dietary needs.” Five years later, she’s the owner of BS Grillin’ Company, a certified Woman Owned Business with the VA Finest Trademark that makes sauces and relishes with fresh ingredients, free from all the major allergens. Products like Kickin’ Pineapple with Honey Bourbon sauce and Blazin’ Pepper and Sweet Zucchini relishes make excellent substitutes for typical bottled sauces in dips, marinades, sandwich toppings, spreads, and more. 

Staff Notes: “Interesting flavor ideas. Blazin’ Pepper Relish was the highlight for me.”

“The Kickin’ Pineapple BBQ with Honey Bourbon was the best!”


Farmstead Ferments

Curtido Kraut, Scottsville

Turned onto fermented foods through her work as an herbalist, Dawn Story of Farmstead Ferments quickly fell in love with both their health benefits and their fresh, punchy flavor. “I refer to them as the party on the plate,” she says. Her company makes and sells a wide variety of sauerkrauts, pickles, and salsas, in seasonal blends like asparagus-dill and Curtido Kraut, a mix of green cabbage, pineapple, jalapeño, cilantro, garlic, and turmeric. The 16-ounce jars can be found at farmers’ markets and in a retail shop in Scottsville. Story sees her company’s mission as providing great-tasting, healthy foods that help support the local economy. “We want to provide nutrient-dense, healthy food to our local community using practices that build resilience in the soil and strengthen relationships,” she says. 

Staff Notes: “So good! It’s crunchy, fresh, and would be great with a salad or on a sandwich.”



Miniature Cheesecakes, Henrico

Geescakes miniature cheesecakes.

In 2016, Genovia Brown had a Christmas party at her house that changed the course of her career. “I baked mini cheesecakes for the very first time—they were eggnog flavored, and everyone loved them,” she says. “About a week later my daughter’s best friend asked me to make them again and bring them to her house. So the idea just popped into my head: I should develop additional flavors and see how it goes.” In March 2017, Brown opened for business and hasn’t looked back; her mini cheesecakes are now available in 30 different flavors and are available through direct order and at The Farmers’ Market at St. Stephens. The company also caters weddings and private events. 

Staff Notes: “These things are so cute! Perfect packaging, right down to the cute little forks. Great flavor and texture, too. So creamy, with hints of real banana and fresh lime. Very giftable!”


Java Food Co.

Java Dust, Cheriton

The first roastery on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Company was already locally famous for its Marsh Mud cold brew and carefully roasted beans when owners Jamie and Kristin Willis decided to collaborate with another local: chef Jason Van Marter of beloved Richmond restaurant The Local. Van Marter was already using Willis’s coffee in some spice blends in his restaurant kitchen. “He was doing these fried oysters [in a breading] that looked like black pepper,” Kristin says. “The way he is able to balance the flavors, it really complements the coffee.” The idea of a collaboration was born, and now the trio produce two varieties of the coffee-based spice blend they call Java Dust: Something Sweet (flavored with cinnamon and vanilla) and Something Savory (an Indian-inspired mix), along with a flour blend and a granola. The spice blends are a hit and Kristen foresees more local collaborations in the future. “Our big thing is local and sustainable community. That’s what it’s all about for us,” she says. 

Staff Notes: “Love this stuff. Both flavors are super yummy!”



Gourmet Popcorn, Harrisonburg

PrePOPsterous gourmet popcorn.

Tisha McCoy-Ntiamoah first dreamed of owning her own popcorn business in high school, when she took a part-time job at a popular retail popcorn shop in the Midwest. “It was just something about serving popcorn,” she says. “Nobody’s ever mad; it’s always a happy experience.” In 2007, she began making her dream a reality, and now PrePOPsterous Gourmet Popcorn serves almost 20 different flavors, from caramel to cheddar spiked with Sriracha. Popcorn is available in gift tins, tailgate tubs, and sampler packs through her online shop, at select breweries and coffee shops in Harrisonburg, and for special events like weddings and parties. 

Staff Notes: “I had so much fun trying these, I almost forgot to rate them! Well-coated and delicious. The gingerbread flavor is fantastic.”


Razzbourne Farms

Kick Ash Cheese, Lexington

Razzbourne Farms Kick Ash cheese.

Emily Heizer Hall of Razzbourne Farms comes from a farming background, but her original plan was a career in graphic design. “I didn’t want to mow grass anymore,” she laughs. But after the birth of her son, she was looking for a job that allowed her to stay home with him. “We were living on our family farm, and my husband asked my father if it would be OK if we got two goats. My father wanted to humor me, so we got two goats that needed a home from North Carolina.” Hall had always wanted to try making cheese, and their first experiment with making goat cheese from the fresh milk “just blew us out of the water,” she says. “We bought the third [goat] two months later and the fourth one two months after that.” Now with close to 30 milking goats, the Halls are making creamy chevre and other goat’s milk-based cheeses in small batches in Rockbridge County. One of their favorites is a bloomy rind cheese made with ash they call Kick Ash. “It’s spectacular and complex; it’s a living cheese,” says Hall. 

Staff Notes: “Very nice! The ash adds an interesting flavor.”


Meet the other winners of our Made in Virginia 2019 Awards:


Home & Lifestyle

Style & Beauty

Click here to meet the 2018 winners.

Click here to meet the 2017 winners.

Click here to meet the 2016 winners.

Click here to meet the 2015 winners.

Click here to meet the 2014 winners.

Click here to meet the 2013 winners.

Click here to meet the 2012 winners.

The Made in Virginia 2019 Awards were selected by the Virginia Living editors and originally appeared in our December 2019 issue. Look for these and other products made in Virginia in the Virginia Living Store

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