Two Valley families will showcase their cooking skills after being among the top 10 finalists competing to get their items on the shelves of all HE-Bs.
For the ninth consecutive year, HEB is hosting its Quest for Texas Best contest in which the grocer searches for creative, made-in-Texas products like food, beverages, beauty products, homewares and more.
More than 564 products were considered in this year’s entries, but only 10 finalists were selected from more than 500 Texas entrepreneurs who participated.
Among the finalists are residents of McAllen and Brownsville.
McAllen’s Annie Leal is in the top 10 with a no added sugar chamoy. She developed the sweet and spicy recipe, named “I Love Chamoy”, while taking into account her father’s needs.
“When her father was diagnosed with diabetes and could no longer enjoy this delicious Mexican sauce, she made it her mission to make this traditional Mexican candy staple more accessible to people with different dietary needs,” said said a HEB press release.
Leal spent months testing ingredients and different combinations until she created the sweet, tangy and spicy chamoy that is only sweetened with monk fruit, according to the release. The recipe also uses no artificial colors and contains 40-80% less sodium than other similar products on the market. Chamoy is usually enjoyed on fruits, vegetables, aguas frescas, seltzers, etc.
In Brownsville, a couple’s craving for a special candy prompted them to come up with a version that secured their spot on the shortlist.
Nadia Escalante and Manual Alvarez were on the hunt for the famous Japanese cotton cheesecake.
When their search proved fruitless, the couple opened their own place, The Sweet Blvd, and began creating their version of it with a Texas twist. Sweet Blvd’s cheesecake combined a French soufflé and American cheesecake, HEB said. The airy texture, moist cake and cotton candy sweetness have earned them a loyal following, which they hope to expand if they win the contest.
Leal, Escalante and Alavarez will now have to present their products to a panel of judges on August 23-24 for the chance to win $70,000 in cash prizes and sought-after space on HEB shelves company-wide. .