Robb Walsh (founder and head judge): Currently the restaurant critic for the Houston Press, Walsh is the former Food editor of The Austin Chronicle and former editor-in-chief of Chile Pepper magazine. He has received numerous nominations for journalism awards from the James Beard Foundation and is a winner of the International Association of Culinary Professional's Bert Greene Award for Journalism. His newest book, The Texas Cowboy Cookbook, is reviewed here.
Alan Lazarus: Executive chef and co-owner of the highly acclaimed Vespaio restaurant and Enoteca Vespaio in the heart of trendy South Congress, Lazarus has been one of Austin's top toques for more than 25 years. He was the founding chef and co-owner of Basil's restaurant in the 1980s and was also an executive chef with Whole Foods Market for several years.
David Garrido: Currently the executive chef for Chuy's Comida Deluxe Inc., Garrido was for many years the executive chef at Jeffrey's and is the co-owner of O's Campus Cafe at the University of Texas. Garrido spent some of the early days of his career working with Southwestern cuisine founder Stephan Pyles. He is the author (along with Robb Walsh) of Nuevo Tex-Mex: Festive New Recipes From Just North of the Border.
Paula Disbrowe: A food- and travel-writing city slicker turned cowgirl cook, Disbrowe came to Texas to write a story about a Hill Country dude ranch and stayed on to become the chef. She has written about travel and food for Food & Wine, Fortune, and The New York Times and is the former food editor of Restaurant Business Magazine. She now calls Austin home, and her first cookbook, Cowgirl Cuisine: Rustic Recipes and Cowgirl Adventures From a Texas Ranch, will be featured at the Texas Book Festival in November. She also co-edits Dishola.com.
Rebecca Rather: Rather is the executive chef and co-owner of the nationally recognized Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe and the new Rebecca's Table restaurant in Fredericksburg. She first made a name for herself as the pastry chef at Tony's in Houston and as executive pastry chef for the Schlotzsky's corporation in Austin. Her first cookbook, The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes From the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe, is a bestseller, and her new book, Rather Sweet Christmas, is due out this fall.
Bruce Auden: Englishman Auden is the chef/owner of the renowned Biga on the Banks restaurant overlooking the famed River Walk in downtown San Antonio. Recognized as one of the founders and chief proponents of Southwestern cuisine, Auden has been nominated as Best Chef of the Southwest five times by the James Beard Foundation.
Tyson Cole: Cole is the executive chef of Austin's wildly popular Uchi restaurant. He studied under sushi masters in New York and Tokyo before helping to create the sophisticated, multicultural eatery. Cole and Uchi have been voted Best Chef and Best Restaurant in The Austin Chronicle Readers Poll. He was named one of America's Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine in 2005.
Roger Diaz: San Antonio-born restaurateur Diaz is the second generation of his family to offer tasty Tex-Mex food and warm hospitality to hungry Texans. Diaz chose to make his mark on the Manor Road restaurant row and now the lushly landscaped patio at his Vivo Cocina Mexicano is one of Austin's favorite spots for relaxing with a good margarita.