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Best Made-In-Texas Products

H-E-B contest picks a winner: The best made-in-Texas product is.......

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HEB Primo Picks Winners Nanette Watson Frio Farm
Nanette Watson, second from left, with sons Jordan and Austin, center, celebrate their grand prize win.  Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup
Winner Caroline Watson at HEB Made in Texas contest August 2014
Nanette Watson, left, is surprised when her product is proclaimed the winner. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Frio Farm Coffee Extract
Frio Farm coffee extract was the big winner. Photo courtesy of Frio Farm
Second place winner Pilar Gonzalez at HEB Made in Texas awards August 2014
Pilar Gonzalez, right, was excited to be named Second Place winner. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
HEB Best in Texas products trophy August 2014
Grand prize winner Nanette Watson took home this trophy. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup
HEB Primo Picks Winners Hector Alba MaxFrut
Hector Alba's MaxFrut took first prize. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup
HEB Primo Picks Winners Pilar Gonzalez Habibi Gourmet
Second place winner Pilar Gonzalez. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup
HEB Primo Picks Winners Sara Vela Farms
Third place winner Sara Vela.  Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup
HEB Primo Picks Winners Nanette Watson Frio Farm
Winner Caroline Watson at HEB Made in Texas contest August 2014
Frio Farm Coffee Extract
Second place winner Pilar Gonzalez at HEB Made in Texas awards August 2014
HEB Best in Texas products trophy August 2014
HEB Primo Picks Winners Hector Alba MaxFrut
HEB Primo Picks Winners Pilar Gonzalez Habibi Gourmet
HEB Primo Picks Winners Sara Vela Farms

The 25 finalists at grocery giant H-E-B's quest to find the best made-in-Texas products for its Primo Picks contest gathered at the Houston Food Bank Wednesday afternoon to learn their fate. They'd spent the past two days giving presentations to a panel of judges that included H-E-B executives, media members and San Antonio chef Jason Dady.

At stake, the grand prize winner would take home a $25,000 cash prize, a spot on grocery store shelves statewide and the title of Texas Best Primo Pick.

 "H-E-B has been very sweet. They'll grow with us," Watson said. "I want an even, steady pace."  

The winner, Nanette Watson's Frio Farm, represents the best of what Texas has to offer. Frio Farm's all natural extracts are made by a family of sixth-generation Texans in the tiny town of Concan (pop. 175) on the banks of the iconic Frio river. Watson bounded to the stage to accept her prize, hugging sons Justin and Austin before the family posed for pictures with a trophy and a giant check. 

"From a chef's perspective, it's all about flavor and taste," Dady told CultureMap. Calling Watson's products "mind-blowing," he added that the flavors like vanilla, bourbon and cane sugar and coconut are "kind of a revelation in a way." 

Watson attributed her success to her cold infusion process, which takes a minimum of three months and uses high quality liquors like Jack Daniel's whiskey and Tito's Texas vodka. "We take our time," Watson said. "We go for flavor." 

Watson affirmed that she's ready to be in stores across Texas. "H-E-B has been very sweet. They'll grow with us," she said. "I want an even, steady pace." 

All natural, gluten-free, 70-calorie fruit bars by MaxFrut of Arlington took home the first runner-up prize and $20,000. A $15,000 second runner-up prize went to Habibi Gourmet's line of dips (cilantro, jalapeno, green olive) from Mission and the $10,000 third runner-up prize went to the sweet tea jam from Vela Farms in Victoria. 

Even the finalists who didn't win one of the cash prizes had good things to say about the experience. "H-E-B is an incredible company," says Michael Briggs, whose Briggs True line of sauces and seasonings was one of six finalists from the Houston area. 

Despite spending two days tasting every contestants' products, the judges and assembled finalists still found room to snack on a MaxFrut bar after the event ended. Eating when you should be full, or, in the case of Texas Monthly editor Pat Sharpe, on the way to try a newly opened Houston restaurant?  

That's when you know something's good.

 

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