LUMBERTON — Juanita Davis says her favorite part of making biscuits is seeing the smile of a satisfied customer when they bite into one of her signature confections.
Davis, who works at the Hardee’s on West Fifth Street in Lumberton, was named the 2015 Best Biscuit Maker of Boddie-Noell Enterprises, which is the largest Hardee’s franchise operator in the nation. She advanced through three rounds, beating out more than 700 other biscuit makers from 337 Hardee’s locations across North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Kentucky.
“When I found out that I won, I felt like a superhero,” Davis said. “I was overwhelmed. Getting up in the morning and seeing people’s face when they bite into the biscuits, that makes my job so enjoyable.”
“I was very proud of her, she did a fantastic job,” said Barbara Locklear, the restaurant’s general manager. “I tried to get her in this biscuit competition for 13 years. She finally did it this year and she won all of it.”
During the annual competition, contestants are tasked with baking the perfect biscuit in 14 minutes. Judges score the entries on taste, texture, height and roundness.
Davis said she felt nervous during each leg of the competition. The judges would hover at each contestant’s station, watching them closely as the biscuits bloomed.
The champ said she knows what the perfect biscuit should look like.
“I always check the center of the tallest biscuit for correct texture,” she said. “Biscuits should be golden brown with a rough texture on top, not doughy. It should also spring back and have a natural break line.”
Her biscuit won the regional, district and company-wide competitions. Davis said her win was an emotional moment that prompted tears from herself, her manager and her mother.
She took home a $1,700 prize and each of her coworkers was awarded with a $100 gift card. Davis said she bought a new living room set with the prize money.
She also received a basket filled with cooking supplies such as rolling pins, silverware and flour as well as flowers, balloons and candies. Davis will be featured on Hardee’s tray liners and in a video that will be used for company promotions.
The road to becoming the Best Biscuit Maker of Boddie-Noell Enterprises started in November, according to Davis, when representatives from the corporate office visited the Hardee’s to make sure she was following protocol when making her biscuits.
Davis said she plans to continue to participate in the competition as long as her manager, Locklear, remains at the store.
“I also had a lot of support from my coworkers. They were pushing me and supporting me all the way,” Davis said. “I even had customers coming in and telling me I could do it. My church, my kids and my mother were supporting me the whole way through too. They wanted me to make a winning biscuit.”
But to Davis’ customers, her biscuits had already won their hearts — and their stomachs.
“We have travelers that come in and they want her to go home with them,” Locklear said. “One man said he wanted to marry her for her biscuits. We always have people asking us to ‘tell that biscuit maker that was a fantastic biscuit.’ People really love what she makes.”
Anyone looking to indulge in a fluffy, made-from-scratch biscuit made by the Best Biscuit Maker of Boddie-Noell Enterprises can visit Hardee’s on West Fifth Street in Lumberton before 11 a.m.
Staff writer Gabrielle Isaac can be reached at 910-816-1689 or on Twitter @news_gabbie.