MANATEE COUNTY – After a three-year absence, Andrea Spring returned to competitive baking last week and claimed four blue ribbons and a red ribbon at the Manatee County Fair.
Spring owns and operates Mermaid Pies & Produce at 10115 Cortez Road in Bradenton.
Competing for the first time, Spring’s apprentice, Brendon Prudhomme, debuted with two blue ribbons.
The ribbons were awarded on Thursday, Jan. 12 – opening night for the county fair.
Spring won blue ribbons for her Mango Monkey Jam, her White Chocolate Cheesecake with Banana Foster Sauce and her Mango Bacon Potato Salad. She also won a blue ribbon for her non-edible gingerbread house. She was awarded a red ribbon for her Key Lime Coconut Cake.
Prudhomme was awarded blue ribbons for his Mermaid Bread – an Italian loaf served with anchovy garlic butter – and for his Bacon Brie and Spinach Quiche.
The items entered in the fair this year are available at Spring’s store.
The perishable entries were judged ahead of time, on Saturday, Jan. 6.
“You have to wait a whole week to find out if you won anything, so it’s really nerve-racking,” Spring said on Friday.
“I’m so excited. I love do to competitions,” she added.
Regarding Prudhomme’s blue ribbons, she said, “I wasn’t surprised. He’s an excellent cook and baker. He’s fantastic. He works really hard, and I can depend on him.”
“It was exciting and fun. I completely enjoyed it,” said the 29-year-old Prudhomme. “I’ll probably have more entries next year.”
Spring will compete in the American Pie Council National Pie Contest in Orlando at the end of April.
Prior to her three-year hiatus, Spring had a long history of competitive success.
In 2014, she won best of show and three blue ribbons at the Manatee County Fair.
At the 2013 Crisco National Pie Championship, she took first place in the peanut butter category and then Best of Show for her Peanut Butter Cracker Pie. For that, she won a beautiful trophy and $5,000.
Spring also won the Crisco Innovative Award for her Coconut Cashew Apricot Pie, which earned her a special trophy and a Golden Ticket to the World Food Championships in Las Vegas.
In 2012, Spring took first place in the Crisco National Pie Championship’s fruit and berry category with her Peach Melba Pie with Almond Crust.
During the 2010 Crisco National Pie Championship, Spring made history when she became the first person to win the championship twice – with her Chocolate Raisin Walnut Pie.
In the 2008 Crisco National Pie Championship, Spring took first place in the citrus category with her Key West Crunch Pie.
Spring claimed her first championship in 2007, with her Key Lime Pie.