After tastings, intense deliberations, and review of everything from books, beignets, and bottled water, to syrups, sausage and seasonings, H-E-B’s Quest for Texas Best named FOUR winners at the eighth annual competition. The winners of the 2021 event hail from Dallas, Austin and Santa Elena (Rio Grande Valley) and received a combined $70,000 in cash prizes and coveted space on H-E-B store shelves statewide.
“Each year we are amazed by what Texans bring to this competition. Despite the disruption of COVID-19, these entrepreneurs demonstrated creativity, determination and perseverance in pursuit of growing their businesses,” said James Harris, Director, Diversity & Inclusion and Supplier Diversity, H-E-B. “H-E-B is thrilled to shine light on these four outstanding businesses and their Texan-made products that will add to the diversity of products on our shelves and to our roster of suppliers.”
THE 2021 H-E-B QUEST FOR TEXAS BEST WINNERS ARE:
Grand Prize Winner ($25,000):
Savor Pâtisserie – French Macarons
Kelli Watts (Dallas)
Kelli Watts who is half French but born and raised in Texas, developed her own version of the French macaron, and founded Savor Pâtisserie in 2016. The beautifully delicious under 100 calorie treats are larger than most, are naturally gluten free with select flavors dairy free. Flavors include vanilla, strawberry, lemon, and pistachio along with specialties like s’mores, cookies ‘n cream, and birthday cake.
First Place Winner ($20,000):
2F Akaushi Beef – Texas Wagyu Ground Beef
Felo and Stephanie Martinez (Santa Elena, Rio Grande Valley)
The Martinez family has been breeding and raising commercial cattle since 1984 on the family’s 1927 Rancho Santa Fe. Using certified Akaushi Wagyu genetics, the 2F Akaushi Ground Beef is a special 80/20 blend of chuck, rump, and steak trimmings, is all natural, hormone free, and contains no antibiotics. 2F Akaushi Beef offers premium Wagyu beef to restaurants and households.
Second Place Winner ($15,000):
Bhoomi – Enhanced Sugar Cane Water
Arpit & Elora Bhopalkar (Austin)
Bhoomi, a line of high-quality rehydrating cold pressed cane elixirs blended with ancient Ayurvedic super botanicals for recovery, immunity, and superfood properties. Certified Paleo, low glycemic with packaging that reduces the carbon footprint by a substantial 89% compared to other traditional PET options, Bhoomi’s flavors include: ginger, turmeric, and moringa.
Third Place Winner ($10,000):
Howdy Homemade Ice Cream – Dr Pepper Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Tom Landis & Coleman Jones (Dallas)
Howdy Homemade Ice Cream is renowned for its iconic Dr Pepper Chocolate Chip ice cream and its mission to change the way businesses hire people with special needs. With two locations in Dallas with five more on the way, Howdy Homemade Ice Cream also works with numerous special needs organizations to hire, train, and employ people with Down syndrome and autism.
Now in its eighth year, H-E-B Quest for Texas Best has expanded its search for the finest foods and beverages in the Lone Star State to also include non-food items. In addition to food creators and innovators, the company invited Texas-based purveyors of beauty items, toys, home goods, household necessities, gardening supplies, coolers and everything in between.
The 2021 Quest for Texas Best competition drew more than 1,200 product entries from cities and towns across the state. 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.
Since launching the contest in 2014, H-E-B has reviewed more than 4,500 samples of the most creative and mouthwatering Texan-made food and beverages, deemed more than 750 unique products worthy of shelf placement, and awarded nearly $1 million in prize money, marketing, supplemental support, and mentoring.
The 2021 judges included: Winell Herron, H-E-B Group Vice President of Public Affairs, Diversity and Environmental Affairs; Kevin Blessing, H-E-B Group Vice President of Bakery, Deli, MTO, Culinary and Prepared Foods; Mike Jarzombek, H-E-B Northwest Division Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing; Sabina Israelian-Garcia, H-E-B Vice President of General Merchandise & Seasonal; Greg Beam, H-E-B Director of Marketing & Merchandising, San Antonio Region; Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News Staff Writer; and Chef Sean Robertson, H-E-B Culinary Academy Chef & Product Development.