Joined by celebrity guest judge – Carolina Panthers Quarterback Bryce Young – the contestants put their skills to the test to determine this year’s champions

Bojangles, best known for its 49-step, made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits, invited the top 12 out of 4,500 Certified Biscuit Makers to its headquarters for the annual head-to-head bake-off. Restaurant leaders nominated the best bakers from both franchise and company-owned restaurants to compete for the title of Biscuit Maker Champion.

On Thursday, April 4, the contestants matched up in the Bojangles test kitchen. Each was given the same area, ingredients and equipment to showcase their biscuit-making skills. The competition was timed – each contestant getting 10 minutes – and judged closely by trained officials on speed, efficiency and quality of the biscuits. The judges considered how closely the contestants followed the delicate process, as well as the resulting biscuits, in their review.

“At Bojangles, our biscuit makers go through a rigorous process to be the ones who bake our prized biscuits in the restaurants, so to be recognized as one of the top 12 across more than 800 restaurants is pretty impressive,” said David Whitaker, chief operating officer for Bojangles. “This competition is truly a battle of the best – and it’s inspiring to see the love that goes into making every single scratch-made biscuit that our guests get to enjoy.”

New this year, Panthers’ quarterback Bryce Young joined as a guest judge, where he gave away the inaugural “Bryce Young Spirit Award” to the contestant who showed the most passion for their craft, which was given to Mary Thompson.

“The qualities of a professional athlete include discipline, focus, teamwork and passion, and I believe that also aligns with what makes a great Bojangles biscuit maker,” said Bryce Young. “I was inspired by how hard all the contestants in the competition work at their craft and how much they love what they do, especially this year’s recipient of the spirit award, Mary Thompson.”

The top three biscuit makers from both teams were crowned, with winners receiving $1,000 each, and all other finalists each winning $500. The contestants included:

Company Restaurant Contestants
Maria Dimas – Conover, NC (WINNER: 2024 Champion)
Will Smith – Mint Hill, NC (1st RUNNER UP)
Donovan Cummings – Hampstead, NC (2nd RUNNER UP)
Brad Markov – London, KY
Felix Irizarry – King, NC
Carter Hoskinson – Sanford, FL

Franchise Restaurant Contestants
Erica Perez – Randolph Restaurant Group / Salisbury, NC (WINNER: 2024 Champion)
Ricky McQuiller – Melanbo / Florence, SC (1st RUNNER UP)
Edith Chavez-Nava – Huffbo / Yadkinville, NC (2nd RUNNER UP)
Wesley Crosby – Myrtle Beach, SC
Kayden Austin – Lithonia, GA
Tacara Smith – Flowood, MS

The contestants traveled to Charlotte for the competition, where Bojangles treated them to two days’ worth of fun, including a team-bonding dinner, awards ceremony and luncheon. The more than 400 biscuits made during the challenge were donated to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Gastonia to help feed the city’s homeless neighbors.

Photos of the event and contestants can be found here, along with b-roll and interview snippets.