Who are the winners stocking the shelves for the $80,000 H-E-B Quest for Texas Best?

By Bess Krasoff - Digital News Intern

HOUSTON - Food companies competed to receive a combined $80,000 in cash prizes along with H-E-B shelf space throughout Texas, and now we know which products have won.

The 2019 Quest for the Texas Best competition drew over 800 entries from 140 cities and towns across Texas.

For the last five years, the competition has brought many smaller and locally owned food and beverage companies name recognition and expansion.

But out of the 20 companies who made the competition this year, only five could win.

“Each of these 20 competitors displayed unprecedented creativity, style and commitment to providing outstanding, unique products for our consideration," said James Harris, H-E-B's director of diversity and inclusion and supplier diversity. "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."

The judges included: Cory Basso, group vice president of advertising; Juan Alonso, regional vice president Houston division, south region and Mi Tienda; Justin Tippet, 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.

Here are the five winners to look out for at your local H-E-B:

Grand Prize Winner: 3 Sons Food LLC, Diablo Verde sauce -- Houston

($25,000, featured placement as Texas Best Primo Pick)

This family-owned company is owned and operated by mother, Traci Johannson and her three sons, Ayden (16), Luke (14) and George (11). Diablo Verde is a creamy cilantro sauce that is gluten free, preservative free, egg free, nut free, soy free, vegetarian and 100 percent natural. It is available in mild, medium and hot. The sauce is used for dipping and flavoring seafood, chicken, tacos, enchiladas, salads, burritos, samosas and more.

First place winner: Uncle Ray’s Peanut Brittle -- Austin

($20,000)

Courtney Ray Goodson gets her peanut brittle inspiration from her Great Uncle Ray, who perfected his peanut brittle over the span of 35 years. She has now created eight flavors made with wholesome ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup, additives, GMOs or gluten. Example flavors include bacon pecan, butternut, pecan and classic peanut brittle.

Second place winner: EVOKE, collagen drink -- Woodway

($15,000)

Derrick Newball started his journey seven years ago when he sought to produce healthy drinks from coconuts using the entire fruit. He initially bottled raw coconut water, handcrafted milk coconut soaps from the coconut pulp and composted coconut shells to create fertilizer for his coconut farm, but he knew he was capable of adding something more. He spent four years researching and exploring in creation of EVOKE, one of the first drinks to capitalize on collagen. EVOKE comes in three flavors: coconut, mandarin coconut and pineapple coconut.

Third place winner: To the Moon Family Foods, nutty-carrot spread -- Atlanta

($10,000)

Kay York and Joan Reece created this spread using carrots, pecans and mouthwatering spices. People can use the spread on a sandwich, as a stuffing for baking chicken, as a dip, as a topping for pork or fish, rolled in balls coated with breadcrumbs and fried and more. 

Third place winner: Grain4Grain, low-carb flour and mix -- San Antonio

Yoni Medhin and Matt Mechtly recycle spent grains from local microbreweries in order to make a low carb, high protein and high fiber flour. The current products include both low carb flour pancakes and waffle mix. Along with every pound of flour sold, Grain4Grain makes a charitable donation of a pound of flour to the San Antonio Food Bank and Hill Country Daily Bread, with plans to expand their donations statewide. Through this program, they have upcycled over 17,000 pounds of spent grain along with feeding over 1,650 families.

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