Think you know what the best dessert in the world is? Well, it’s not some pastry made in France or some flaming Alaskan dish. It can actually be found right here in Mississippi.
Without a doubt, the most delicious cheesecake you will ever eat is baked in small batches and had its beginnings in Hattiesburg at Cotton Blues.
Spending hours watching Julia Child videos as a high schooler in order to perfect his cheesecake recipe, Shaun Davis has now turned his favorite pastime into a business that sells thousands of cheesecakes every month.
At 15 years old, Davis first crafted the Cotton Blues top-secret cheesecake recipe. After attending Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Las Vegas, Davis teamed up with restaurant owner Chris Ortego and began selling his cheesecakes to patrons at Cotton Blues.
“The desserts were an immediate hit,” Ortego said. “Patrons began requesting whole cheesecakes to share with family and friends.”
That’s when Davis and Ortego knew they had something special. The online reviews began pouring in, with people calling the cheesecake at Cotton Blues the “best ever” and “better than New York.” Hence, the tagline of “Mississippi Made – New York Approved” was born.
Almost a year after they began selling cheesecakes together, a local grocery store owner reached out to Ortego and Davis and asked if he could sell their cheesecakes in the frozen section of his stores. “Because freezing the cheesecakes is part of the recipe, it was a perfect fit,” Ortego said.
It wasn’t long after that Cotton Blues began distributing to more and more grocery stores, allowing the small hometown company to quickly outgrow its restaurant location. Now, Cotton Blues Cheesecakes operates a 15,000-square-foot cheesecake kitchen in Waynesboro and distributes to grocery stores in nearly 25 states.
So, what’s the secret to Cotton Blues cheesecakes? That’s something Davis and Ortego refuse to reveal. However, they credit much of the taste to natural ingredients. You won’t find any ingredients in their cheesecakes that you can’t pronounce.
“Our original cheesecake is made with just six simple ingredients,” Ortego said. “It’s not full of preservatives and strange ingredients. Also, our cheesecakes are bound with whole eggs rather than flour or cornstarch, which keeps our cheesecakes from tasting pasty.”
Outside of the original, Cotton Blues cheesecakes come in three other flavors: salted caramel, blueberry swirl, and strawberry swirl. If you can’t find Cotton Blues in a grocery store near you, you can get their cheesecakes shipped directly to your door.