San Antonio-based H-E-B Grocery Co. said it scoured the Lone Star State to find foods that best demonstrate what its home state of Texas is all about. In doing so, H-E-B’s 2019 Quest for Texas Best competition has found what it calls "the most delectable culinary creations from talented Texans” and selected 20 finalists out of more than 824 entrepreneurs from 136 cities and towns across the state.
H-E-B, which is known for its innovative approach to grocery and in-store retail foodservice, says contest finalists will showcase their products Aug. 7 and 8 before a panel of judges at the Houston Food Bank to stake a winning claim in the sixth annual competition.
“Since its inception in 2014, our sourcing team has sifted through more than 3,000 products in the Quest for Texas Best competition. This contest has yielded nearly 450 unique products worthy of companywide distribution and awarded nearly $400,000 in prize money,” said James Harris, director of diversity and inclusion and supplier diversity for H-E-B. “We continue to be amazed at what Texans bring to the table and how their creations are received in stores.”
In keeping with its mission and rapid expansion throughout the state, H-E-B also unveiled its 81,000-square-foot H-E-B Eastside Tech Hub in Austin one month ago.
H-E-B’s annual Quest for Texas Best competition finalists are 3 Sons Foods, All Y’alls Foods, Basia’s Pickles, Davila’s BBQ, Evoke, EXO, Grain 4 Grain, JD’s Chili Parlor, Naughty Noah’s Vietnamese, Le Sauce, Lickstrips, Lips Smackers, Madge’s Food Co., Primos Coffee Co., Push Water Co., Santte Foods, Smokey Denmark Sausage Co., Statesman Beverage Co., To the Moon Family Foods Co. and Uncle Ray’s Peanut Brittle.
Competition from the 20 finalists listed above generated a mix both main meal items, side dishes, condiments and something to satisfy the sweet tooth after lunch or dinner. Foods included brats, brittle, sauces, pickles, mixes, mixers, cookies and crickets. Throughout two qualifying rounds, H-E-B business development managers selected submissions on taste and flavor, customer appeal, value, uniqueness, market potential and differentiation from products already available at most H-E-B stores.
The top 20 finalists will present their creations to the panel of experts, who will select four winners based on quality, marketability and product readiness. Last year's four winners were Mmmpanadas, Chef Rey Inc., Bellefontaine and Pennymade.
Winners will receive a combined $70,000 in cash prizes and sought-after space on H-E-B store shelves. H-E-B will award the grand prize winner $25,000 as well as the coveted title of Texas Best Primo Pick and placement on store shelves. The first-place winner gets $20,000, the second-place winner wins $15,000 and third-place receives $10,000.