On Sept. 10, Tamara L. Furda was selected as the grand-prize winner of the Sweet Times with Vidalias national recipe contest. Held by the Vidalia Onion Committee, the contest gave contestants a chance to win one of three cash prizes by submitting a favorite Vidalia onion recipe and fond memory of the sweet onion.
Recipes and stories were judged by a panel including Chef Joe Randall, owner of Chef Joe Randall's Cooking School in Savannah, GA, and Wendy Brannen, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee.
Ms. Furda's original recipe, savory stuffed Vidalia onions with creamy Marsala sauce, and heartwarming Vidalia onion memory were selected from nearly 400 entries to win the grand prize of $1,000 based on criteria including creativity, originality and use of Vidalia onions.
"I saw the Sweet Times with Vidalias contest online and immediately sweet memories of my father came rushing back," Ms. Furda was quoted in a Sept. 17 press release as saying. "A memory of him biting straight into a Vidalia inspired me to create this irresistible recipe. I know he would be so thrilled and proud to see I've won."
Joan Churchill of Exeter, NH, won a $750 second prize cash award for her Vidalia and pear honey of a soup recipe and childhood memory. A recipe for Vidalia shortcake and endearing love story submitted by Lisa Keys of Middlebury, CT, claimed a $500 third prize cash award.
"We always receive enticing recipes when we announce a national contest, no surprises there," Ms. Brannen said in the release. "What struck me was how truly touching the Vidalia memories were. I personally read each of the hundreds of entries and am so thankful to have learned so much about our consumers - how they have adapted our sweet onions into beautiful recipes from their own unique cultures, how their families have literally bonded over creating Vidalia-specific meals when money or cooking resources were low, how through silly ways they inspired stubborn kids to enjoy eating onions, and how so many families value our vegetable as a rite of passage, cooking it from one generation to the next."
From May through August, cooks nationwide were given a chance to win one of three sweet prizes by submitting a favorite Vidalia onion recipe and warm memory of cooking with Vidalias. The contest was promoted online and in select supermarkets nationwide.
Vidalia onions have been a part of Georgia history and family recipes since the mild, sweet onion was originally pioneered in the 1930s. The sweet onions are only grown in the low-sulfur soil of 20 counties in the southeast region of Georgia, but they are loved throughout America. The original sweet onion is preferred over other sweet onion brands by 75 percent of consumers, according to an Opinion Dynamics survey.
To view the winning recipes and their sweet memories, visit VidaliaOnion.org. For updates on future contest and promotions, become a fan of the Vidalia Onion Committee on Facebook.
The committee was established in 1989 as Federal Marketing Order No. 955. The order authorizes production research and marketing promotion programs, and the Vidalia Onion Committee administers the order locally. It consists of eight producer members and their alternates, and one public member and an alternate.