THIS YEAR’S TACO JUDGES

CHARLES DIVINS

CHARLES DIVINS

“WDSU News This Morning” anchor Charles Divins comes to New Orleans from Orlando, Fla., where he served as co-host of “The Daily Buzz,” a nationally syndicated news and entertainment morning program. Charles brings a wide range of life experiences to New Orleans. A native of Dallas, Charles got his start in television as an actor of the NBC daytime series, “Passions.” Dallas is also where he got his passion for tacos.

JASON SEITHER

JASON SEITHER

Jason is the chef and owner of Seither’s Seafood, the popular local seafood hub in Harahan. He is a five time winner of the Poboy Festival with five different sandwiches. Louisiana Cooking Magazine named Seither’s the best place to eat crawfish in Louisiana. He makes regular appearances on the local news and has been featured on the food network and travel channel.

BRENT ROSEN

BRENT ROSEN

Brent Rosen is President & CEO of the National Food and Beverage Foundation. Brent oversees the programming of NatFAB, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and the Museeum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans. He also works with affiliate museums such as the Pacific Food and Beverage Museum in Los Angeles.

MS. LINDA GREEN

MS. LINDA GREEN

I’m Ms. Linda Green, known around town as the Yakamein Lady. I love what I do, and what I do is cooking.

GARLAND HOOVER

GARLAND HOOVER

General Manager of SukhoThai of New Orleans. Cocktail enthusiast and man about town. Wherher I’m catching a local event or working along side the beautiful people of NOLA, I’m always soaking up the great time. I’m also a musician and I play multiple instruments in multiple groups.

MARC STONE

MARC STONE

World traveling guitarist, songwriter and WWOZ DJ Marc Stone has been reputed to eat his amplifier’s weight in tacos. Let’s see what offerings he finds transformative at this year’s Top Taco…

SASANNA BABASHOFF

SASANNA BABASHOFF

Sasanna Babashoff is the chef/owner of The Sassy Chef NOLA. She has recently travelled across Mexico focusing on the local food and cocktails. She comes form Russian immigrants who settled in Mexico and has fond memories of making tamales with her family. She’s fired up to tingle her tastebuds with all
flavors that the Top Taco chefs create.

JAMMER ORINTAS

JAMMER ORINTAS

Jammer Orintas, Co-Owner of Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza, discovered his passion for food at an early age. In addition to operating 5 pizza restaurants in the Metro area, he is a self proclaimed taco expert. Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza has been recognized by The Gambit, New Orleans Magazine and The Times-Picyanue as one of the best pizza joints in the city.

NICK MIDDLETON

NICK MIDDLETON

Austin based chef from South Texas. Owner Grita Tacos. Former cook for Aaron Franklin & Tyson Cole. Loves tacos and New Orleans, al mismo tiempo.

BETHANY BULTMAN

BETHANY BULTMAN

Bethany Bultman, Founding Director of the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and Assistance Fdn, began her career as a culinary historian, food editor and lecturer

TODD WANNER

TODD WANNER

Todd Wanner serves as Executive VP and CFO for Fidelity Bank, NOLA Lending Group, and Homestead Title. Beyond finance, Todd loves to cook and eat great food. With his family, Todd created a local charity BBQ team called Swinel Richie (a fun tribute to our favorite artist Lionel Richie). As the head chef, this charity team raises money, cooks for several local causes, and feeds a thousand plus people per year.

JAMIE BERNSTEIN

JAMIE BERNSTEIN

Jamie Bernstein is a songwriter, musician, actor and radio personality. His original songs have been featured in multiple films and he appears live throughout New Orleans. He is best known for his role as Caveman in Season 2 of Preacher. Jamie hosts a weekly radio program called The Offer Radio Hour, 2-3pm, on Mondays for 102.3WHIVfm New Orleans.

SCOTT ``SPARKY`` SPARKS

SCOTT ``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.

JACQUELINE MAZUR

JACQUELINE MAZUR

WWL-TV’s Great Day Louisiana show host and senior producer Jacqueline Mazur is thrilled to be a judge for this year’s Top Taco! Jacqueline loves everything about New Orleans (especially opportunities to eat and drink), so being a Top Taco judge, is the perfect fit. You say “Taco,” Jacqueline says “Si, por favor.”
To learn more about Jacqueline and Great Day Louisiana, head to GreatDayLouisiana.com

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.

SCOTT MAKI

SCOTT MAKI

Scott Maki has been a chef in new orleans for 15 years at such restaurants as Emerils, Luke, Bayona, Mondo and Feelings Cafe. He has been a Times Picayunne Chef to Watch and a Participant in the ACFNO Best Chefs of Louisiana. Earlier this year Maki opened his own place, Chew Rouge in Arabi.

THIS YEAR’S COCKTAIL JUDGES

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.

TRIXIE MINX

TRIXIE MINX

Trixie is New Orleans’ own comic cutie & burlesque beauty. As a performer she is best known for her comic twist on the classic strip tease. As a producer she runs multiple New Orleans based shows featuring live music, circus artists, & sparkling showgirls in addition to custom curated entertainment through her company Trixie Minx Productions. A proud culture bearer for our city learn more about this lovely lady & her productions at www.trixieminx.com

ALESSANDRA MADRID AND MAGGIE ROBERT

ALESSANDRA MADRID AND MAGGIE ROBERT

Alessandra and Maggie are co-founders of local food, beverage and lifestyle blog Babes & Beignets. Babes & Beignets is the go-to resource for the twenty-something babe living la vida NOLA. For lovers of happy hour, entertaining, brunch, local shopping, the hottest events, the occasional venture outside of the city & more!

MEREDITH HAMMOCK

MEREDITH HAMMOCK

Lover of all things New Orleans! You can find me most days riding my bike through the city streets, eating and drinking all the things,listening to live music, gem shopping, or bartending your favorite shows at House of Blues. Featured in 1806-Cocktail Culture, New Orleans addition.

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.

STAR HODGSON

STAR HODGSON

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.

Andrew Quaid

Andrew Quaid

The Super Saints Fan Mr. Everything 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.

DANIEL VICTORY

DANIEL VICTORY

Daniel Victory is the founder and owner of Victory and the New Orleans Drink Lab. His businesses are both in the heart of downtown New Orleans, offering an array of craft cocktails, small gourmet plates and a venue dedicated to teaching the history and art of cocktail making.

AARON WILKINSON

AARON WILKINSON

Aaron  is the bandleader for New Orleans roots rock outfit Honey Island Swamp Band. A life long taco and tequila lover, he is a dedicated champion of all things taco culture!

BRYAN DIAS

BRYAN DIAS

Bryan Dias is the host of The NOLADrinks Show with Bryan Dias – a weekly radio show in NOLA and popular podcast that “explores the world of drink, food, and culture in New Orleans and beyond!” The show delves into topics important to the hospitality, food, and beverage industries as well as discussions on music, culture, and more. It all comes with a focus on in-depth conversation, social issues, and a good dose of humor. Bryan has extensive experience in consulting, programming, and drinks education.

JOSH DANZIG

JOSH DANZIG

Josh Danzig is the founder and Publisher of Where Y’at Magazine. Where Y’at is New Orleans’ largest monthly publication with a distribution of 50,000 copies to over 650 drop spots. Where Y’at Magazine last year celebrated its 20th Anniversary, and its website WhereYat.com is the city’s most awarded website, both for the desktop and mobile versions.

STEVE WATSON

STEVE WATSON

As co owner of The Kingpin and The Midway- I love booze and food, on top of long walks in the park. I’m the only the person to be on jeopardy twice without winning.

AARON NACHLAS

AARON NACHLAS

Aaron Nachlas came to NOLA in 1997, and after falling in love with the city, settled here when he retired from flying for the U.S. Coast Guard. A dedicated consumer and cocktail enthusiast, he has designed tours and assisted in articles highlighting the New Orleans cocktail culture. He is often found behind the bar, creating specialty cocktails for private events. As part of Agave Week, Aaron designed and directed the Industry Tequila Seminar and ‘Farm to Bar’ Panel Discussion, as well as the Top Tequila Competition.

RACHEL KROL

RACHEL KROL

Rachel is a bartender at Muriel’s who has a serious love affair with good food and drinks and the people who create them. Everything that is New Orleans is her… and every ounce of her is completely and utterly in love with New Orleans and everything it has to offer.

ANDREW MARIN

ANDREW MARIN

Andrew Marin writes about food and cocktails for Where Y’at Magazine. He is a former chef and bartender, a very slim percentage of Mexican, and a taco and tequila enthusiast. It’s his third year judging Top Taco. Follow him @ndrewmarin on instagram for photos, and watch his instagram story for live updates from the festival.

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.