UPDATE – 8:00 p.m. August 11
On Thursday, H-E-B announced Julie Albertson, co-owner of the Texas Pie Company, claimed the grand prize in the Quest for Texas Best contest with her product, the Texas Pie Company Original Pie Dough Puck, according to a press release.
Albertson won a $25,000 prize and will have featured placement of her product as a Texas Best Primo Pick at H-E-B stores across the state.
By Moses Leos III
Growing up on a 50-acre farm in Splendora, Julie Albertson was taught to bake with whatever was available.
That’s where she also learned that baking from scratch not only helped with stress, but also helped others smile.
Albertson, co-owner of Texas Pie Company in Kyle, could be bringing smiles to households across Texas, as her idea of a raw, frozen pie dough puck is one of 25 items competing in H-E-B’s Quest for Texas Best contest.
Competition for her product to go on H-E-B store shelves is not only a humbling experience for Albertson, but also a chance to represent Kyle.
“It’s a sense of pride, honor and privilege and that a small town girl does well,” Albertson said.
Her path toward the competition began when she saw an advertisement for it at H-E-B. Once she read up on the rules, Albertson began the process of penning a 1,000-word essay on her history as a baker and her business. It was an experience she said was “cathartic.”
She was then notified in April by H-E-B that out of roughly 400 submissions, her idea was on to the next round. Albertson said she was very glad to have the acknowledgement of an idea “they had never seen before.”
Her idea, which she had researched over a two-year period, is a 10-ounce raw, frozen pre-made pie dough puck.
“When I got the first call, I put down the telephone and did the Snoopy dance,” Albertson said. “They have never seen what I’m offering. That was my verification I was on the right path.”
Albertson provided samples to H-E-B in May, which included pie dough in the package, along with pecan and apple lattice pie, as well as quiche and chicken-pot pie.
In June she heard back from H-E-B that she had made it to the next round. By the time she got the call, Albertson feared she was out of the running.
On Wednesday, Albertson participated in the final round of competition, where she presented her pie dough puck to a panel of judges at the Houston Food Bank. Four winners will be selected – based on quality, marketability and readiness for production, according to a release.
Albertson said she and her company have met with a co-packer recommended to them out of Lockhart that could help manage distribution and management with H-E-B. She said Texas Pie Company currently makes 4,000 pies per month.
“It’s a very exciting and eye opening experience,” Albertson said.
Albertson was confident her product would perform well, due to its uniqueness.
She was also confident in her ability to “know her stuff” for her presentation, ranging from baking, to her business background, both in retail and in wholesale.
“I’ve been baking for 30 years. This is not something that I’ve made up. This is not a scatterbrained idea,” she said. “It’s a product I’ve based my whole life on.”