This year's distinguished panel of judges includes …
Randy Clemens: Author of the best-selling Sriracha Cookbook and The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. from Ten Speed Press, Clemens is a graduate of the California School of Culinary Arts and has written for Gourmet, Saveur, Wine Enthusiast, Los Angeles, and BeerAdvocate. He lives in San Diego, where he is an avid homebrewer and recognized beer judge. He's currently working on another Sriracha-themed cookbook due out in 2013.
Paula Disbrowe: A Senior Travel Editor at Southern Living magazine, Disbrowe has written four cookbooks including Crescent City Cooking with Susan Spicer, Down Home with the Neelys, and Real Cajun with Donald Link. Her food articles have appeared in The New York Times, Food & Wine, Health, Delta Sky, and Cooking Light, among other publications.
David Garrido: Garrido is the owner and executive chef at the eponymous Garrido's in Downtown Austin. His other local executive chef positions have been with Chuy's and Jeffrey's, and he began his career working with Stephan Pyles at Routh Street Cafe in Dallas. Garrido is the co-author of Nuevo Tex-Mex: Festive New Recipes From Just North of the Border with Robb Walsh.
Alan Lazarus: Executive chef and co-owner of the highly acclaimed Vespaio and Enoteca Vespaio restaurants on South Congress, Lazarus has long been recognized as one of Austin's top toques. An avid gardener, he also spent several years as an executive chef with Whole Foods Market.
Kevin Roberts: The host of BBQ Pitmasters, and a finalist in The Next Food Network Star, food television celebrity Roberts, also known as the "Food Dude," is the owner/executive chef of four restaurants in San Diego. He's also the 2012 consulting chef for the New York Yankees, an official spokesman for Frank's RedHot Pepper Sauce, and the author of two cookbooks, Munchies and Kissing in the Kitchen.
Chris Shepherd: At Underbelly in Houston, Shepherd serves a ballsy blend of Southern, Asian, and Latin American dishes organized around local ingredients, a style he calls "Texas Creole." His dishes include hot sauces from all over the world. A graduate of the Culinary Arts Program of Houston's Art Institute, Shepherd has received praise in The Wall Street Journal, Saveur, Food Arts, and Wine Spectator.
Robb Walsh (Head Judge/Co-founder): This is the 22nd year as head judge for three-time James Beard Award winner Walsh. The former food editor of The Austin Chronicle has also served as the editor of Chile Pepper Magazine and restaurant critic for the Houston Press. He's the author of four Texas cookbooks, including his latest, Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook, and is a founder and board member of Foodways Texas.