The National Honey Board has selected the winners of its Honey Innovation Awards. 

Launched earlier this year, the competition drew entries from operators nationwide, showcasing their honey-inspired food and beverage menu innovations. The 2014 Honey Innovation Award winners are as follows:

Grand Prize – Food ($1,000): James Barrett, Executive Chef at Azure/Westin Annapolis (Annapolis, Maryland) – Grilled Honey-Herb Marinated Blue Catfish. The winning appetizer features fresh local blue catfish, an avocado honey emulsion, and blood orange gelee. Three different honey varietals—Avocado, Orange Blossom and Wildflower—pair with avocado, jalapeno, cilantro, parsley, thyme, kosher and sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and blood oranges to create a tantalizing sweet/salty/spicy dish. 

Chef Barrett worked with the Department of Natural Resources to highlight the local invasive species, alongside all-natural honey and other fresh ingredients.

Grand Prize – Beverage ($1,000): Ian Clark, Beer Chef/Founder at BRU Handbuilt Ales & Eats (Boulder, Colorado) – Beezel Belgian Golden Strong Ale. This hand-built ale is made with honey, black pepper and bitter orange. Beer Chef and BRU founder Ian Clark was very excited to submit this entry, as he and his wife are avid beekeepers and serve a special “bee” dinner at BRU showcasing their own honey.  

The Beezel Belgian Golden Strong Ale’s label features a whimsical print highlighting its connection to bees, and the beer boasts a bright golden hue.

Runner-Up – Food ($500):  Eric Joppie, Chef at Bar Avignon (Portland, Oregon) – Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Tellicherry Pepper Honey. The savory panna cotta combines buttermilk with honey and lemon. Served in a mason jar and topped with honey, flavored with coarsely cracked black pepper, the dessert was highlighted on a Prix Fixe menu offered by Bar Avignon during Portland Dining Month in March 2014. 

Bar Avignon sold several hundred of the panna cottas and they were very well received, garnering positive reviews on OpenTable.

Runner-Up – Beverage ($500):  Scot Humphreys, General Manager at Dantanna’s Downtown (Atlanta) – Twelve Oaks Cocktail. This elegant, honey-inspired elixir combines charred oak-aged tequila with Georgia Wildflower honey and fresh lime juice, finished with a Sichuan peppercorn and salt rim. Conveying old-school elegance, the sweet and smoky cocktail is served chilled in a martini glass.

“We were thrilled to see the many different, innovative ways operators are using honey to enhance their menus,” says Catherine Barry, National Honey Board’s director of marketing.  “Our aim was to inspire and be inspired, and we are very pleased that the Honey Innovation Awards has achieved both missions.”

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