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Judges

Presented by Stella Artois Brought to you by the producers of Top Taco
Awards

2023 Judges

Jamie Bernstein
Jamie Bernstein
Jamie Bernstein

For more than 20 years, Jamie has been writing songs, poetry, music, and performing. Jamie grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, the heart of the Old-Timey music scene. His musical approach combines this strong folk element with the rhythms and themes of the city he has called home since 1996, New Orleans. Jamie’s songs have been featured in feature films and have been covered by grammy-winning artists. He fronts two bands that frequently perform in and around New Orleans, Future Cowboys, and Yakameiniacs. Jamie Bernstein also hosts a weekly radio show on 102.3FM.

Chappy Chapman
Chappy Chapman
Chappy Chapman

Dedicated SIN since 2006 from DE to SC, FL, and NOLA for the last 10 years. Bartending at some of the classiest Craft Cocktail bars, swanky Fine-dining establishments, oldest Local Neighborhood watering holes, and private and charitable events. Chappy is humbled to be a part of this community and tries her hardest to continue to challenge herself and give back to the community.

Anthony  Cruz
Anthony Cruz
Anthony Cruz

Co owner of Southerns and world class eater.

Phil  de Gruy
Phil de Gruy
Phil de Gruy

"Retired" Baron of Beef and owner of Phil’s Grill now a fish monger at Fortune Fish & Gourmet (formerly New Orleans Fish House), podcast host, endurance athlete, 2x cancer survivor and founder of Running for Dreams a 501c3 non-profit raising money for kids who have lost a parent or loved one to cancer. And I love tacos.

Liam Deegan
Liam Deegan
Liam Deegan

Liam is the managing partner of Barrel Proof and partner in Anna's and the Will & the Way in the Leblanc + Smith Portfolio. Liam's bar career started on Bourbon St, then a few blocks over at Sylvain, started as a food runner, getting Certified Cicerone in 2011 and Level 1 Somm in 2013, and eventually running Sylvain's bar program before opening Barrel Proof with partner Robert LeBlanc in 2014.

Bryan Dias
Bryan Dias
Bryan Dias

Bryan is the Host and Executive Producer of “The NOLADrinks Show with Bryan Dias." He is also co-executive Producer of Nitty Grits Podcasts – the podcast network of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and the National Food and Beverage Foundation.

Richard Dubus
Richard Dubus
Richard Dubus

3rd place in bourbon brawl cocktail contest, cocktail youtuber and blogger Gnome's Tavern, wrote e book "Gnome's Tavern volume 1" stand-up comedian

Mitch Gibbs
Mitch Gibbs
Mitch Gibbs

Mitch Gibbs is a radio personality on WODT and WGSO New Orleans and currently hosts a weekly podcast recorded live at Drago’s downtown location inside the Hilton. Mitch loves all things sports.

Randolph Goodwyn Jr
Randolph Goodwyn Jr
Randolph Goodwyn Jr

Born in southwest Louisiana, this Florida-college graduate moved to the New Orleans area to further his career in the motorcycle industry. Known by his family and friends as a true “foodie,” he’ll go to great lengths for the perfect meal or pair of shoes.

Meredith  Hammock
Meredith Hammock
Meredith Hammock

I have been in the service industry for 25 years! Currently tending bar over at the House of Blues and helping out at Yeah You Right Events whenever I can.

Jason Harris
Jason Harris
Jason Harris

Over 25 years of restaurant and bar experience with the last 8 helping to lead the 3 Felipe's Taqueria locations here in NOLA.

Emily Hingle
Emily Hingle
Emily Hingle

Emily Hingle is a Louisiana native who loves experiencing the unique culture of New Orleans every day through food, drinks, and especially music. She has been with Where Y’at Magazine since 2009.

Star Hodgsen
Star Hodgsen
Star Hodgsen

Star is a founding member and past President of the New Orleans Chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG), Star now serves the bartending community as a Chair of the USBG National Charity Foundation Board. She contributes to several online and print publications, has served as a judge for many esteemed cocktail competitions, teaches seminars at industry conferences, and is a blind tasting spirits judge for the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition.

Kappa Horn
Kappa Horn
Kappa Horn

Kappa opened her first diner over 22 years ago on Magazine Street. She moved on from Slim Goody's, but now owns Little Horn's in the Marigny neighborhood.

Brian Kern
Brian Kern
Brian Kern

Brian Kern is a man about town with a passion for parades and parties. Brian currently reigns as the Captain of the Krewe of Boo, the annual Halloween Parade that has become a big attraction on the fall calendar in New Orleans since it’s inception back in 2008. Brian proudly fought for, and won, his krewes’ right to parade this Mardi Gras season.

Rachel  Krol
Rachel Krol
Rachel Krol

Rachel Krol has been in the industry for fifteen years, mostly as a bartender at Muriel’s in the French Quarter. She recently took a position with the House of Blues. In her spare time, she enjoy spending time with her daughter.

Duke LoCicero
Duke LoCicero
Duke LoCicero

Chef and owner of the New restaurant in metairie Dabs bistro and call Emily at Cafe Giovanni for 27 years in the French quarter award winning restaurant

Diane Lundeen
Diane Lundeen
Diane Lundeen

Lundeen is Petcetera’s pet pastry chef and baker. She is the lead designer for NOLA Bitch Couture, a doggy style design house, making creative apparel, accessories and toys for pets and people. Lundeen dedicates her spare time to charity and animal rescue, including Bad toThe Bone: Rescued on The Runway, a feast of food and fashion in which dogs from local rescues strut the catwalk in hopes of finding homes.

Brian  Maurice
Brian Maurice
Brian Maurice

Coming Soon

Malik Mingo
Malik Mingo
Malik Mingo

Malik is the host of the local talk show, "Great Day Louisiana," on WWL-TV in New Orleans. The show features everything that makes Louisiana great! From food, to cocktails & events, you can learn how to live your best life by watching the show! Malik has also interviewed several celebrities from Halle Berry to Tyler Perry and Kevin James. Malik was born in New Orleans, but moved to San Antonio, Texas when he was 9 years old, so he likes to say he is NOLA made and Texas raised! Prior to WWL, Malik worked in San Angelo, Texas as a morning anchor, reporter & weatherman. When Malik is not at work, you can find him at a local festival eating, enjoying live music or at home catching up on his very full DVR!

Leroy Mitchell
Leroy Mitchell
Leroy Mitchell

Leroy Mitchell was born and raised in Metairie, LA. On any given Sunday, Leroy can be found antagonizing opposing players at the Superdome dressed in black and gold with a giant whistle attached to his head. When he’s not dressed as the most recognizable Saint Supafan, he can be found holding court at Galatoire’s every Friday after a long work week at Heartland Payment Services. No one loves a great cocktail more than the Whistle Monsta.

Tracy Napolitano
Tracy Napolitano
Tracy Napolitano

Tracy is the founder and producer of the popular New Orleans Bourbon Festival which celebrates all things bourbon. When not sipping on bourbon, he is enjoying other spirits and cocktails.

Richard  Papier
Richard Papier
Richard Papier

Executive Chef Richard Papier, best known for his authentic Mexican concept Araña, has worked for some of the city's top chefs including Emeril Lagasse, Donald Link, Susan Spicer Nathaniel Zimet, Neal Swidler, and gained his Yucatan-style cooking from mentor Guillermo Peters. Papier has worked at such institutions as the Delachaise, Emerils, Herbsaint, Sophia, and the Fontenot Hotel, as well as Green Valley Grill in North Carolina. All of these experiences have led him to a corporate chef position with US Foods where he now resides.

Brett Patron
Brett Patron
Brett Patron

Brett “Slab” Patron, co-founder of the 610 Stompers, comes from a long line of eaters and dancers. His grandparents are from Merida, located on the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula. Slab spent many Sundays throughout his life, cooking and eating traditional Mexican food, but he believes tacos can cover a diverse range of food from many cultures.

Ronnie Pendelton
Ronnie Pendelton
Ronnie Pendelton

New Orleans native and service industry vet of over 15 years. Food is not only a passion but therapy and Ronnie loves the language. He is currently a server and bartender at both Zasu & Piece of Meat.

Woody Poche
Woody Poche
Woody Poche

Woody is the proprietor of the eponymously named Woody’s Fish Tacos, a fixture on the New Orleans Festival Circuit for several years. Currently enjoying retirement with his new Nepalese sidekick, Rin Poche, he’s excited to make a rare public appearance in support of this “Juan”derful event.

Andy Quaid
Andy Quaid
Andy Quaid

The Super Saints Fan Mr. Everythang helps to keep the Who Dat Nation Motivated in the Dome and everywhere he goes. A transplant to New Orleans in March 2005, he quickly fell in love with Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Your NOLA Saints & Pelicans, and “Everything” that New Orleans has to offer.

Kim Ranjibar
Kim Ranjibar
Kim Ranjibar

For over a decade, Kim's been eating, photographing, and writing about food in New Orleans. Her work's appeared in local publications such as Where Y'at Magazine, New Orleans Living Magazine, NewOrleans.com, and Louisiana Kitchen & Culture. Follow her blog sucktheheads.com and follow her Instagram accounts @sucktheheads and @nolafoodporn.

Matt Ray
Matt Ray
Matt Ray

Matt Ray is one of the Experience Team Leads of the Sazerac House and has worked in hospitality for over twenty years, from Walt Disney World to local James Beard winner "Cure". He is WSET Lvl3 Certified in Spirits, a WSET Certified Educator for levels 1&2 in Spirits, CSS certified, an Executive Steward of the Stave & Thief Society, a U.S. Bartender's Guild Certified Spirits Professional, and a level-1 sommelier. He is on the board of directors of the New Orleans Chapter of the US Bartender's Guild. Matt holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching and still loves education.

Jas Rogers
Jas Rogers
Jas Rogers

Born and raised in Houston, Jas found her passion for cooking at an early age, and in 2010 she enlisted in the US Army as a 92G, Food Service Specialist. Jas attended the Art Institute of Houston where she received her degree in Culinary Management. Soon after moving to New Orleans, she eventually opened her own successful restaurant concept, Coalesce Goods. Jas has been featured in GQ Magazine, New Orleans Magazine, The Gambit, and countless other publications. Currently, she is feeding the tastebuds of many with her sauce and seasoning brand, Saucexdat.

Jamison  Ross
Jamison Ross
Jamison Ross

GRAMMY-nominated soul artist whose music originates from the intersection of R&B, gospel, and blues supported by modern production–contemporary soul. In 2016, Ross Joined the multi-award-winning super group Snarky Puppy as a drummer, touring the world and recording on many of their albums including Grammy Award-winning, “Empire Central." In 2019, Jamison and business partner, David S. Hargrett founded Affective Music, a soul music-focused record label and management company dedicated to defining the sound of soul for this era. Later that year, the label released Mykal Kilgore’s debut single, Let Me Go, produced by Jamison, earning his second GRAMMY nomination. Jamison’s most recent project, “JAMO” is his first Affective Music release and is influenced by some of history’s greatest Soul singers.

Deborah Schumacher
Deborah Schumacher
Deborah Schumacher

Ms. Schumacher arrived in NOLA originally from Southern California. She has made New Orleans her permanent home since 1984. Ms Schumacher produced food service events for the Olympics, Super Bowls, Microsoft and Ford Motor Company to mention a few. Her passion is the restaurant business. She owns and operates Slim Goodies Diner on historic Magazine Street in New Orleans, which features an eclectic blend of the traditional American Diner fare paired with the Creole influences of Louisiana.

Jason Seither
Jason Seither
Jason Seither

Owner and chef Jason Seither spent his early life on the Bayou (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayou) cooking with his mother and boiling crawfish with his father. Seither’s Seafood in New Orleans uses the best local, traditional ingredients while Jason incorporates his own wild flair into his meals. Jason's also a huge music fan and his restaurant hosts nightly gigs for local musicians on the patio. You can catch Jason and Seither's Seafood on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri.

Amy Sins
Amy Sins
Amy Sins

Amy is a chef, author, and owner of Langlois Catering, named one of the “Best Cooking Schools Around the World,” by Travel + Leisure. She can also be found rallying the troupes to provide aid to disaster victims in Louisiana and around the gulf. She was also named a “Southern of the Year” by Southern Living Magazine.

Michael Skinkus
Michael Skinkus
Michael Skinkus

Freelance percussionist for the past 35 years in NO. I’m fascinated by the idea of New Orleans being culturally and historically a Caribbean city and try my hardest to exemplify this concept.

Scotty
Scotty "Sparky" Sparks
Scotty "Sparky" Sparks

Scott “Sparky” Sparks aka NOLA’s King of Tailgating” is the quintessential southern gentleman known for his off-the-hook tailgates and frequent appearances on local TV plus the Food Network & Amazon Prime.

Micah Williams
Micah Williams
Micah Williams

Owner of Hard Core BBQ and bar manager of Bullseye Metairie. Always had a love for food, cooking, and good times!

Robert Witkowski
Robert Witkowski
Robert Witkowski

Robert Witkowski is Creative Director at Where Y’at Magazine. From Jazz music and city's history to Louisiana food and the muddy Mississippi, he has a love of all things New Orelans, sharing his passion through his work and play. Having lived in culinary destinations including Chicago; Boston; New York City; and Portland Maine, he is honored to be included in judging this event.

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