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Regional grocer H-E-B has unveiled the slate of winners of its annual “Quest for Texas Best” contest.
The contest is conducted each year on behalf of H-E-B’s specialty line, “Primo Picks,” which the chain describes as “unique, tasty and cool products you may never have heard of or tried before.” In order to be considered for the contest, products must be produced in the Lone Star State.
This year, a panel of judges narrowed a field of 25 finalists to four winners on Aug. 12 and 13 at the Houston Food Bank. The winners received cash prizes totaling $70,000 and consideration for coveted space on H-E-B shelves in 2016.
"The final presentations were a wonderful display of ingenuity and vision," said James Harris, director of diversity and inclusion and supplier diversity at H-E-B. "Our state is prime territory for smart, inventive food entrepreneurs further solidifying Texas' national reputation as a foodie state."
The 2015 H-E-B Primo Picks: Quest for Texas Best winners are as follows:
Grand Prize ($25,000 and featured placement as a Texas Best Primo Pick):
TEO Gelato's Gelato (Austin)
First Place ($20,000):
Slaton Bakery's Homemade Vanilla Wafers (Slaton)
Second Place ($15,000):
Blackbird Foods (Houston)
Third Place ($10,000):
Blackbird Bakery (Austin)
Judges in this year’s contest included Scott McClelland, president, H-E-B Houston; Winell Herron, H-E-B group VP of public affairs, diversity and environmental affairs; Scott Pettit, H-E-B director of selling; Bruce Robinson, H-E-B director of bakery, deli and food service merchandising; and chef Michael Skibitcky, dean of the H-E-B Culinary Academy and a tenured professor at the Culinary Institute of America. Criteria included product quality, marketability and readiness for production, as well as the makers' suitability as retail suppliers.
The Quest for Texas Best competition drew entries from 74 towns across the state. Through two qualifying rounds, H-E-B business development managers chose the 25 finalists for their taste and flavor, customer appeal, value, uniqueness, market potential and differentiation from current products at most H-E-B stores.
San Antonio-based H-E-B operates more than 360 stores in Texas and Mexico.