Recently I had the privilege of attending an H-E-B media event where we were invited to check out, interview and taste samples of the top 25 finalists’ products in the fifth annual H-E-B “Quest For Texas Best.” These top 25 competed in the final round Aug. 9-10 in Austin. H-E-B’s James Harris had this to say about the event: “Each year keeps us on our toes with innovative products, and this year is no exception. We are proud to continue a program that gives small business owners the opportunity to share their pride and joy with H-E-B shoppers across the state.”

H-E-B scoured the Lone Star State in search of the most delectable culinary creations from talented Texans with a flair for food. After tasty deliberations, 25 finalists were selected from more than 700 entrepreneurs from nearly 140 cities and towns across the state. Five of the finalists are from the Greater Houston area and I was invited to interview them and taste their wares, one week before the final judging. So, off I headed to the H-E-B on Bunker Hill to join the other area media at this event. Houston has a sweet tooth, because three of the five area finalists had fantastic desserts in the game! Here is a list of the Houston-area finalists:


Named after a small village in the French countryside, Bellefontaine makes ice cream using pure, clean ingredients. Owner Lucienne Duforets is committed to using centuries-old traditions to create her French-style ice cream. She also has a line of dairy- and gluten-free sorbets: dark chocolate, mango and passionfruit, and coconut.

Bellville Meat Market-Bellville

For nearly four decades, Bellville Meat Market has taken a simple, no-compromise approach to making Texas sausage. Daniel and Diann Poffenberger founded this family-run business; they currently make more than 28 varieties of sausage, including their popular Summer Sausage. Other recipes include Sweet Chipotle, Green Onion, Peppercorn and the award-winning Jalapeno Cheese.

Big Little Fudge-Montgomery

Big Little Fudge makes more than a dozen different flavors of delectable fudge loaded with everything from cranberries and cherries to pecans and coconut. Co-founder Robin Strickland has a deep fondness for fudge, getting her hands on chocolaty spoils whenever she could. In 2009, she and Co-founder Kevin Graham pursued this sweet passion and purchased a mom-and-pop fudge operation in Houston.

Chef Rey Inc.-Sugar Land

Reynold Darthard, better known as Chef Rey, has been called one of Houston’s top culinary talents. Pulling from his culinary education and memories of cooking with his mother and grandmother, he has used his flair for cuisine to create seven delicious cheesecakes including strawberry, raspberry, chocolate swirl and sweet potato. He has authored cookbooks and was executive chef for professional athletes and sports teams, such as the Houston Astros and Houston Rockets.

Mad Hectic Oatmeal-Houston

As a breast cancer survivor, founder Beth Gallo looked for a way to improve her diet with a healthy, quick breakfast. She developed a high-protein oatmeal mix that’s a nutritious and delicious option for people on the go. Mad Hectic Oatmeal comes in a variety of flavors, including strawberry pecan, French chocolate and raspberry almond.


As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get a single one of them to divulge their secret recipes.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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