Celebrity Judges

Sonya Cote
Sonya Cote (Photo by John Anderson)

This year's distinguished panel of judges includes:

Adam Gonzales: As the executive chef of Serranos and Mama Ninfa's, this South Austin native is one of Tex-Mex's top guns. He started helping out in his mother's tamale business as a young boy, and by the age of 27, he had founded the Austin Serranos chain with his brother David Quintanilla. The pair bought the Mama Ninfa's chain in 1998.

David Garrido: Garrido is the owner and head chef of Garrido's restaurant in Austin. The former Chuy's executive chef also worked as executive chef at Jeffrey's and with Stephan Pyles at the Routh Street Cafe in Dallas. He co-authored of the cookbook Nuevo Tex-Mex: Festive New Recipes From Just North of the Border with Robb Walsh.

Alan Lazarus: Chef and co-owner of the highly acclaimed Vespaio on South Congress and Enoteca Vespaio next door, Lazarus has long been considered one of Austin's top toques. He also spent several years as the executive chef for Whole Foods.

Paula Disbrowe: This James Beard Award-winning cookbook author is senior travel editor for Southern Living magazine. She has written about food for Food & Wine, Fortune, and The New York Times, and she is the former food editor of Restaurant Business magazine and author of Cowgirl Cuisine: Rustic Recipes and Cowgirl Adventures From a Texas Ranch.

Rebecca Rather: Author of the bestselling cookbook The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes From the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe and two sequels, The Pastry Queen Christmas and Pastry Queen Parties, Rather is chef and owner of Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe in Fredericksburg.

Sonya Cote: Head chef of the East Side Show Room in Austin, Cote was named one of the Top 10 Badass Women Chefs in America by the Daily Meal. She is a leading proponent of the local food movement and was part of the group that fought to pass the Texas Cottage Food Bill. She's currently presenting the Homegrown Revival dinner series and working on a new restaurant, Hillside Farmacy on East 11th Street.

Robb Walsh (founder and head judge): The three-time James Beard Award winner is a partner with chef Bryan Caswell in El Real Tex-Mex Cafe in Houston. Walsh is the former Food editor of The Austin Chronicle, former restaurant critic for the Houston Press, former editor-in-chief of Chile Pepper magazine, and author of The Tex-Mex Cookbook.

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