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Meet the Judges!

Posted By LocalShops1, Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Get saucy this spring, at LocalShops1 and Intensity Academy Gourmet Sauces' fifth annual Top Local Chef competition. The battle features chefs from all across Tampa Bay and is produced in support of our nonprofit partner, the Gulfport Historical Society.



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Links to Everything

The Celebrity Judges:


Ray Lampe, “Dr. BBQ”

Ray Lampe grew up in Chicago and participated in BBQ cookoffs as a hobby since 1982. Eighteen years later he turned his hobby into a career and moved to Florida, where he became an outdoor cooking expert. Ray is the author of seven cookbooks, including his most recent, "Pork Chop," spokesman for The National Pork Board, a judge on the Travel Channel's "American Grilled" and the Food Networks “Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri.” He has cooked in more than 300 BBQ contests -- and more than 300 awards -- and has been a guest and expert voice in countless of TV shows.


Ramon Hernandez, Pipo's Cuban Cafe

After winning Top Local Chef in 2013, Ramon, owner and chef of Pipo's Cuban Cafe in St. Petersburg, returned to take the top prize again the following year, this time wowing the judges with Pigs in Paradise, featuring two pork and cheese empanadas served over sweet plantains mash and a ladle of Intensity Academy's Saucy Everything. The dish was garnished with a bedding of banana leaves and topped with roasted pimientos, cilantro and a sprinkle of secret spice. Rated one of Tampa Bay/s top Cuban restaurants since 1979, Pipo's also offers full service catering services for 1-10,000 people.

Janet Keeler, USFSP
Janet Keeler is a visiting professor in the Journalism and Media Studies Department of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, from which she holds a master's degree. She is also coordinator of the university's culinary communication programs, including a Food Writing and Photography certificate. Janet, the former food and travel editor at the Tampa Bay Times, is currently a food columnist at the Times. She also hosts a popular Twitter chat, #CookClub, every Thursday at 7 pm.

Isabel Laesig, Family Foodie 
Isabel, a mother of four and founder of Family Foodie, is on a mission is to bring back Sunday supper around the family table in every home. It starts off as one day a week and soon becomes a way of life, she says.  Isabel is spreading the word of her mission by working with a group of bloggers. Every week they blog about a #SundaySupper theme and now reach more than 1.5 million followers with their recipes every week on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Mark Rivera, 10 News
Mark, anchor and award winning reporter at WTSP 10 News, loves collaborative, interactive and imaginative storytelling. Before joining 10 News in 2014, he worked as a morning anchor and reporter in Decatur, Illinois. "I am thrilled to be in the Sunshine State and to call Tampa Bay my home," Mark says. "One of the best parts? The cuisine!! The options are nearly endless, and I want to try them all. Also, I love dogs and coffee."


Cathy Salustri, freelance writer 
A Gulfport-based writer, Cathy writes about Florida. She has a master’s degree in Florida Studies from USFSP, where she researched Florida foodways, or why Floridians eat as they do. In 2011 Cathy logged almost 5,000 miles in search of Florida’s forgotten destinations and along the way, she sampled Florida cuisine from every corner of the state. Cathy, along with former Cooks Illustrated test kitchen chef Tiffany Taylor, is working on a cookbook and maintains a food blog, Aphrodite’s Hearth.



Tags:  top local chef 2015 

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