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We are so thankful to our judges who donate their time and effort for this event. Our judges include professional chefs, editors, bloggers, restaurateurs, and more. As judges are confirmed, their bios will be below.

Chris Del Conte (CDC)

VP & Director of Athletics, University of Texas

Chris Del Conte was named vice president and athletics director at The University of Texas at Austin on December 9, 2017.

Del Conte previously served as director of intercollegiate athletics at Texas Christian University since 2009 and is nationally recognized for developing winning programs, upgrading facilities, improving the fan experience and helping student-athletes excel on and off the field.


Dean Jay Hartzell

UT-Austin McCombs School  of Business

Jay Hartzell is the dean of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. He assumed this role Feb. 1, 2016. 
Previously Dean Hartzell was a finance professor and expert on corporate finance, real estate finance, corporate governance and executive compensation. His research explains the real-world impact of corporate investments, contractual relationships, executive compensation structures, and board performance. Hartzell is renowned in the world of real estate finance and is the executive director of the Real Estate Finance and Investment Center (REFIC).


Russell Jackson 

Bravo Chef and Host of Going Off The Menu

Russell Jackson is a dynamic, articulate, passionate individual who is one of the forerunners in the underground dining/private supper club movement. With his classical culinary background and bad boy attitude, he's a modern day food pirate whose sole goal is to turn conventional on its head. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Chef Jackson made his grand, culinary debut at the age of three after a successful foray into creating breakfast on his own. Accustomed to learning by trial and error, and fascinated by watching his mother cook on their match lit stove, he decided food would be an integral part of his life forever.
Though his attention to detail has improved with age, Russell's insatiable thirst to watch and learn from those he admires remains, driving him to work for some of the top Los Angeles and San Francisco area restaurants and chefs.


Jen Osaki

Jen Osaki, Thrillist

Jen Osaki is an associate video producer at Thrillist, one of the most trusted media brands in food, drink, travel, and fun experiences. She focuses on covering the the fun things in life, so viewers can be introduced to the newest trends in food and drink or inspiring them to visit new places around the world. 
As a chili-lover, she embraces chili of all types – her early childhood introduction to it made her no stranger to spice, flavor, and all good things that should be in a good bowl of chili.


Matt Timms

Creator of the Takedown

Matt Timms produces Takedowns- the most important food competitions in America. Visit and pray he's coming to a city near you...



Shari Bayer

Shari Bayer is the founder and president of Bayer Public Relations, a full-service public relations, consulting and marketing agency established in 2003 in New York City that specializes in culinary and hospitality. She is also the host and producer of All in the Industry® on Heritage Radio Network, a weekly internet-based radio show/podcast dedicated to the behind-the-scenes talents in the hospitality industry.  A native of Miami, Florida, Shari earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of Michigan, and a culinary certificate from the Cooking Academy of Chicago. Shari is a past-president of the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance and a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier NY, the James Beard Foundation, and Toklas Society. She is recognized on Total Food Service’s Top Women in Metro NY Foodservice & Hospitality, and is a contributing writer for Fathom, Forbes, Tasting Table, and Thrillist. Shari is also a fearless solo diner and traveler.


Shelby Vigil

Texas Exes Chapters and Networks Coordinator

Shelby graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Corporate Communication and now works for the alumni association. Having spent her entire life in Texas, Shelby knows that the finer foods in life are Tex-Mex and BBQ. She travelled all the way from Austin to see if New Yorkers can replicate authentic Texas Chili.  


Autumn Stanford

Brooklyn Kolache

In 2002, when Autumn  and her partner Dennis, who both recently moved to NYC at the time and could not find a proper kolache, decided to take matters into their own hands. Opening their store in Brooklyn, BKC is a mom and pop bakeshop and coffeehouse that serves up over 20 varieties of sweet and savory handmade kolaches from scratch. All are baked fresh daily. Everyday!