Four Texans won thousands of dollars and the sweet taste of success Wednesday in H-E-B's Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best contest.
Judges narrowed a field of 25 to four finalists at the Houston Food Bank, basing their decision on product quality, marketability and readiness for production as well as the makers' suitability as retail suppliers. The winners received cash prizes totaling $70,000 and consideration for space on H-E-B shelves in 2015.
The competition drew entries from 128 towns across the state, including six finalists from the Houston area.
The H-E-B Primo Picks: Quest for Texas Best Award winners are:*
Grand Prize ($25,000 and featured placement as a Texas Best Primo Pick)
Nanette Watson's Frio Farms (Concan)
Not all extracts are the same; just ask Nanette Watson of Frio Farm in Concan. Watson is a true connoisseur of extracts, using only Tahitian vanilla beans and controlling temperature, number of beans, quality and type of alcohol when creating extracts. The result is a pure, rich and complex extract, miles away from others available in the marketplace. Frio Farms' array of extracts include Bourbon & Cane Sugar, Rum & Honey and Tequila & Agave, as well as more traditional flavors.
First Place ($20,000)
Hector Alba's MaxFrut (Arlington)
Hector Alba, creator of MaxFrut, delivers a sweet, fresh alternative to high-calorie frozen desserts. The Arlington-based company has produced Texas' first frozen whole fruit bar. With just 70 calories and gluten-free, MaxFrut is delightfully free of artificial colors and sweeteners. Fruit purists can choose from among blueberry, raspberry or strawberry treats.
Second Place ($15,000)
Pilar Gonzalez's Habibi Gourmet (Mission)
Pilar Gonzalez, owner of Mission-based Habibi Gourmet, blends fresh ingredients and yogurt to create the 100-percent natural DIP-IT. Featuring five different flavors including cilantro, jalapeño, green olive, chipotle and piquin, DIP-IT is perfect when paired with vegetables, crackers or chips; drizzled on pastas, seafood or chicken; or as a creamy base for your own recipes.
Third Place ($10,000)
Sara Vela's Vela Farms (Victoria)
Sara Vela's Texas roots run deep. Vela and her family farm and ranch 33 acres of land in Victoria that have been in her family for more than 100 years. From Fig Preserves and Ginger Habanero Jelly to Texas Sweet Tea Jelly and Strawberry Balsamic Serrano Jam, Vela's selection is sweet, spicy and always full of the fresh produce from the farm.
*Information provided to Local 2 by H-E-B