Out of nearly 700 entries, 25 entrepreneurs made it to the final round, which involves presenting their creations to a panel of judges, who will assess quality, marketability and product readiness.
Four winners will be announced on Aug. 10 at the Central Texas Food Bank in South Austin. The first place winner will receive $25,000 and a product order from H-E-B; three more runners-up will also receive cash prizes.
Austin finalists include Barbecue Wife, which makes bloody Mary and Texas smoked honey margarita mixes; biscuit company Pennymade; Afia Foods, which makes purveyors of kibbeh, a Middle Eastern dish made of bulgur wheat and ground meat, and falafel; Loving Libbie Memorial Foundation, which makes green chile macaroni and cheese; empanada venture Mmmpanadas; Pretty Thai, which offers Thai sauces and spices; and 38 Pecans, which crafts pecan meal baking mixes.
"Each year keeps us on our toes with innovative products, and this year is no exception," said James Harris, H-E-B's director of diversity & inclusion and supplier diversity, in a July 23 news release. "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."
Past Austin winners include vegan bakery Skull & Cakebones, which took the top prize last year; TEO Gelato, which has a gelateria in North Austin; and Kitchun, which makes grain-free cookie mixes and granola.