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Four H-E-B Quest For Texas Best Winners Claim $70K And Shelf Placement

H-E-B Quest for Texas best winners

Last updated on August 20th, 2018 at 04:30 pm

H-E-B’s Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best judges have selected four winners out of 25 finalists from across the Lone Star State. The retailer wrapped up the fifth annual event on Friday, Aug. 10, at the Central Texas Food Bank.

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The winners, hailing from Austin and Houston, received a combined $70,000 in cash prizes and space on H-E-B store shelves. In celebration of the contest’s fifth anniversary, the grand prize winner also received keys to a brand-new Toyota Tundra.

“H-E-B Quest for Texas Best furthers our commitment to carrying a significant variety of outstanding Texas-made products, allowing us to grow and celebrate the diversity, creativity and ingenuity of Texans even more,” said James Harris, H-E-B director of diversity & inclusion and supplier diversity. “We continue to be impressed by the incredibly unique and innovative products from our participants, and this fifth anniversary year was no exception. We congratulate our winners and commend all who participated.” 

This year’s winners are:

Grand Prize Winner ($25,000, featured placement as a Texas Best Primo Pick, keys to a new Toyota Tundra):

Kristen and Cody Fields

Frozen handheld empanadas


For the folks behind Mmmpanadas, the quest for the perfect empanada started in Costa Rica, when co-founder Cody Fields became obsessed with the hand-held food. This passion continued, taking him throughout Central and South America. In 2008, he and his wife, Kristen, opened their food truck in Austin, crafting flavorful empanadas such as Argentinian Beef, Hatch Green Chile Chicken, Vegan Black Bean and BBQ Brisket. Today, they make more than 20 flavors of their empanadas, which are free from additives, fillers, preservatives and trans fats. Available in two sizes, their empanadas are cooked fresh from their food truck and can be found in the frozen section at some retailers in Austin.

First Place Winner ($20,000):

Reynold Darthard


Chef Rey Inc.—Sugar Land

Reynold Darthard, better known as Chef Rey, has been called one of Houston’s top culinary talents. After 15 years working a corporate job, the Texas A&M University graduate decided to pursue his passion for cooking, entering the Art Institute of Houston’s culinary program at the age of 37. Pulling from his culinary education and memories of cooking with his mother and grandmother, Chef Rey has used his flair for cuisine to create cheesecakes in seven flavors, including strawberry, raspberry, chocolate swirl and sweet potato. Chef Rey has authored multiple cook books and held roles as executive chef for professional athletes and sports teams, such as the Houston Astros and Houston Rockets.

Second Place Winner ($15,000):

Lucienne Duforets and Veronica Amaya

Ice cream


Named after a small village in the French countryside, Bellefontaine makes ice cream using clean ingredients. Originally from France, owner Lucienne Duforets is committed to using centuries-old traditions to create her French-style ice cream. Each batch is made from scratch with fresh milk straight from Texas farms, producing a soft, smooth texture. With 10 flavors, many of the ingredients used are sourced locally and made in-house, including ribbons of chewy caramel used in the Salted Butter Caramel. Along with flavors such as Pistachio, Rose and Bananas Foster, Bellefontaine also has a line of dairy and gluten free sorbets: dark chocolate, mango and passion fruit, and coconut.

Third Place Winner ($10,000):

Tiffani Diorio

Pennymade biscuits


With a desire to raise her daughter with healthy treats, Tiffani Diorio began tweaking recipes to ensure every bite of food was tasty and nutritious while also appealing to a more sophisticated palate that appreciates homemade southern comfort food. Using a family recipe, Diorio came up with a lineup of biscuits, which are frozen, ready-to-bake and can go from freezer to table in 15 minutes. Pennymade biscuits are made from scratch with non-GMO, all-natural ingredients and available in multiple flavors, including Original, Hatch Chile Cheddar and Maple Bacon.

This year’s judges included Scott Mitchell, SVP, fresh departments; Bill Anderson, SVP, San Antonio food/drug division; Jorge Elizondo, group VP, customer insights; Chef Patrick Clark, dean of the H-E-B Culinary Academy; and Winell Herron, group VP of public affairs, diversity and environmental affairs.

The 2018 Quest for Texas Best competition drew more than 700 entries from nearly 140 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.

The Quest for Texas Best competition 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 more than 432 new products on H-E-B’s grocery, bakery, deli and market shelves across the state.

Keep reading:

H-E-B Names Top 25 Contenders In ‘Texas Best’ Competition

H-E-B Names Georgoff Chief Product Officer, H-E-B Digital

H-E-B Now Delivering Beer And Wine In Under An Hour Through Favor

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Featured Photo PLMA Annual Private Label Trade Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Chicago, Illinois
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