Photo Credit: Chef Rey
Sugar Land resident, Reynold Darthard, better known as Chef Rey, took first place honors in the H-E-B Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best competition in Austin surrounded by family and friends.
The Texas-based grocery chain sponsored its fifth annual contest to find the best Texas-made products. The top 25 finalists were selected on July 1 and the winners were announced after a final round of competition Aug. 9-10 in the state’s capital.
Chef Rey pit his signature cheesecakes against more than 700 product submissions and walked away 1st place winner in the competition. For his 1st place win, the Houston-area chef received a $20,000 cash prize and the opportunity to display his products on H-E-B retail stores across Texas. Submissions were judged on quality, marketability, and product readiness.
Darthard describes the signature cheesecakes that wowed the judges as one of his culinary creations that has always set him apart. “My cheesecakes have always been my closer,” said Darthard, who has perfected his recipe down through the years.
Prior to entering the contest, Darthard’s father posed a “thought-provoking question” that the Freeport native now believes he has the answer to.
“My dad asked me ‘What are you going to do with the rest of your life,'” shared Darthard, whose culinary talents opened the doors for him to serve as personal chef for NBA Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady and as the first executive chef for two professional sports teams – the Houston Astros and Houston Rockets, respectively.
The answer to the question would not come to him until after his father passed in late January of this year, but became crystal clear after he entered H-E-B’s Quest for Texas Best contest and received a call that he was chosen to compete along with more than 700 entrepreneurs from nearly 140 cities and towns across the state.
“For the rest of my life I will manufacture cheesecakes in mass distribution,” said Darthard of his hopes prior to his win.
The process of being chosen to compete in the contest and walking away with his recent first place win has taken on greater meaning for the Sugar Land resident.
“It is not so much about the contest and the prizes, but most importantly, receiving the answer from God to give to my Dad, even though he is only present in spirit now,” said Darthard.
The Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best program has yielded more than 432 new products on H-E-B’s grocery, bakery, deli and market shelves across the state since its inception in 2014.