After two days of intense deliberations and tasting a delicious mix of brats, brittle, sauces, pickles, mixes, mixers, meats, cookies and crickets, H-E-B’s Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best named five winners at the Houston Food Bank. The winners of the sixth-annual event hail from Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Woodway and Atlanta, TX and received a combined $80,000 in cash prizes as well as a chance to showcase their products on H-E-B store shelves.
“Each of these 20 competitors displayed unprecedented creativity, style and commitment to providing outstanding, unique products for our consideration. In fact, the entries were so good that we ended up with FIVE winners this year. We are delighted to share that diversity and ingenuity with our customers across the state,” said James Harris, H-E-B Director, Diversity & Inclusion and Supplier Diversity.
The 2019 H-E-B Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best Winners are:
Grand Prize Winner ($25,000, featured placement as a Texas Best Primo Pick):
3 Sons Foods, LLC, Diablo Verde Sauce – Houston, TX
Traci, George, Luke and Ayden Johannson
3 Sons Foods is a family-owned company operated by sixth and seventh generation Texans, Traci Johannson and her three sons, George (11), Luke (14) and Ayden (16). The mother-son company produces and sells a devilishly addictive creamy cilantro sauce – Diablo Verde. Available in mild, medium and hot, Diablo Verde combines cilantro, lime, garlic, jalapenos and spices perfect for dipping, flavoring seafood, chicken, tacos, enchiladas, salads, burritos, empanadas, samosas and much more. Made in Texas using the freshest ingredients, Diablo Verde is gluten free, preservative free, egg free, nut free, soy free, vegetarian, 100-percent natural and 100-percent full of flavor. 3 Sons Foods has won and placed in many competitions, including 1st place in best Salsa Hot; 2nd place for best new product from The Chile Pepper Magazine Contest; 1st and 3rd place Green Sauce Judges Award; and 2nd and 3rd place Green Sauce People’s Choice from The Austin Chronicle Salsa Fest. Staying true to the company motto, “Eat Diablo Save Rhinos,” a portion of Diablo Verde sales goes to the International Rhino Foundation to help stop the illegal poaching of rhinos.
First Place Winner ($20,000):
Uncle Ray’s Peanut Brittle, Peanut Brittle – Austin, TX
Courtney Ray Goodson
Courtney Ray Goodson’s Great Uncle Ray perfected his peanut brittle over the span of 35 years. It was his secret to charming just about everyone west of the Mississippi, creating community with every bite. He shared his secret with Goodson over coffee, laughter and morning talks about life and brittle. Goodson was a quick study. As she left for a stint in the Peace Corps, she enlisted Uncle Ray to send brittle, which was skillfully used to make friends in her new community in the South Pacific. She started making it herself to crowdfund a local woman’s start-up business in turn, starting her own. Goodson has since given the classic southern treat a boost, creating eight flavors handmade with wholesome ingredients and NO high fructose corn syrup, additives, GMOs or gluten. Made with some big Texas hair (covered with hair nets always), big Texas dreams, and a big strong arm that stirs with love and helps our neighbors along the way, the lineup includes: Bacon Pecan (for the foodies), Butternut (for the peanut lovers), Pecan (a top seller) and classic Peanut Brittle (for the Golden Gals [& Guys] of the world).
Second Place Winner ($15,000):
EVOKE, Collagen Drink – Woodway, TX
Fruit of Life’s story began seven years ago and 1,769 miles away with a dream to create a company capable of producing healthy drinks from coconuts using the entire fruit. Founder, Derrick Newball, bottled raw coconut water; handcrafted coconut milk soaps from the coconut pulp; and composted the coconut shells to create fertilizer for his coconut farm. But he knew there was more. There was a health and wellness revolution in the beverage industry and he wanted in. After four years of exploring consumer taste preferences and trying new ingredients to leverage their original coconut water, they created EVOKE. As one of the first drinks to capitalize on the collagen trend with a beverage that not only tastes great but has numerous benefits for skin, hair, joints and bones. EVOKE comes in three delicious flavors – coconut, mandarin coconut and pineapple coconut.
TWO Third Place Winners ($10,000 each):
To the Moon Family Foods, Nutty-Carrot Spread – Atlanta, TX
Kay Lynn York and Joan Reece
To the Moon Family Foods’ Original Nutty-Carrot Spread is the newest crowd-pleaser from this northeast Texas town. Made with carrots, pecans and mouthwatering spices, its unique flavor matches its addictive appeal. There are endless ways to enjoy the spread – on a sandwich; as a stuffing for baked chicken; as a dip; as a topping for pork or fish; or rolled in balls, coated with breadcrumbs and fried. No matter how you choose to indulge, creators Kay York and Joan Reece hope you spread it with love.
Grain4Grain, Low-Carb Flour and Mix – San Antonio, TX
Yoni Medhin and Matt Mechtly
Grain4Grain was founded by Yoni Medhin and Matt Mechtly with a goal of enabling people to live healthier lives while improving the environment and giving back. They do this through recycling spent grains from local microbreweries to make a low carb, high protein, high fiber flour. Their current products include both Low Carb Flour Pancake and Waffle Mix. For every pound of flour sold, Grain4Grain donates a pound to those in need via the San Antonio Food Bank and Hill Country Daily Bread, with plans to expand statewide. To date, they have helped thousands of people take positive steps in reaching their nutrition goals, upcycled over 17,000 pounds of spent grain, and have helped feed over 1,650 families through the buy one, give one program.
The 2019 Quest for Texas Best competition drew more than 800 entries from nearly 140 cities and towns across the state after a call for entries in February of this year. Through two qualifying rounds, submissions were judged on taste and flavor, customer appeal, value, uniqueness, market potential and differentiation from current products at most H-E-B stores.
The judges included: Cory Basso, H-E-B Group Vice President of Advertising; Juan Alonso, H-E-B Regional Vice President Houston Division, South Region and Mi Tienda; Justin Tippet, H-E-B Director of Human Resources SA/West Division; Chef Charlotte Samuel, H-E-B Culinary Nutritionist & Product Development Chef; Tanji Patton, Good Taste TV Executive Producer; Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle Food Writer; and Winell Herron, H-E-B Group Vice President of Public Affairs, Diversity and Environmental Affairs.
H-E-B Quest for Texas Best is a signature program for H-E-B’s Primo Picks brand, which labels the best-in-store products that are all unique, delicious, and new. Since its inception in 2014, Quest for Texas Best has yielded nearly 500 new products on H-E-B’s grocery, bakery, deli and market shelves across the state.
As part of H-E-B’s commitment to providing local product options, H-E-B is the single largest retailer of the Go Texan program with more than 1,000 H-E-B brand items that include the Go Texan watermark in stores throughout the state.