Category Archives: Judges

Philly Chili Bowl 2015 Judges!

We are so thrilled to have this group of expert judges for the 6th Annual Philly Chili Bowl!  Get to know the judges who will crown the 2015 Philly Bowl winner!!


Joncarl Lachman,
Chef/Owner, NOORD eetcafe

After years of following his passions for travel (33 countries) and linguistics (4 languages), Joncarl Lachman turned to settling down and achieving a life long goal of restaurant ownership.

A graduate of New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education, Lachman was the winner of the inauguaral “San Pelligrino Almost Famous Chef” Award in 2002. He has worked under the tutelage of Nora Pouillon (Washington DC “Restaurant Nora”) and in NYC, Anne Rosenzweig (of Arcadia and Lobster Club) who remains a trusted friend and mentor.

In 2005 he opened HB Home Bistro, a Michelin Ranked New American Restaurant in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. In 2010, he  opened his second restaurant Vincent, where he was able to express his love for his Dutch heritage and serve modern takes on the cuisines of Amsterdam.

Returning to his hometown of Philadelphia has always been in the plans. In late spring of 2013 he opened NOORD eetcafe, an homage to classic Northern European bistrofare with an extensive smoked fish program.

Next up is a new bar/bistro in the Italian Market. Stay tuned!

Drew2013 Drew Lazor,
Freelance Food & Drink writer

Moving into his six year of judging both the Philly Chili Bowl and Wing King, Drew is one of our most beloved judges!

A native Marylander based in Philly, Drew Lazor covers food, drink, movies and music locally and nationally contributing to local food reads such as Serious Eats, City Paper, Philadelphia InquirerPhiladelphia Daily News, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler and recently Lucky Peach Magazine.

Most recently, Drew was a contributor for the hot new German cookbook, New German Cooking, released along with Philly chef, Jeremy Nolan of Brauhaus Schmitz! Grab a copy! It’s a beautiful book, and interestingly, the most recent German cookbook released in years!

Welcome back Drew!


Roberta Pipito Blogger,

Roberta Pipito is a home chef, food, beer and wine connoisseur, and blogger. Her lifelong passion for cooking led her to create her blog in 2011. The name “Homemade Delish” seemed fitting for this Philadelphia wife and mother of two who takes pride in being the daughter of a professional baker.

Coming from a long line of family cooks in Brazil and descendants of Italy, she enjoy the science behind food as well as the taste.  Being able to speak Portuguese and English has allowed Roberta to step over an ethnic line for a wider audience; and range of creativity. Homemade Delish displays some of her recipes, her love for wine, beer and photography, and covers a variety of events. With creativity and imagination, you can style anything to your taste.”

Rosa's Fresh Pizza owner Mason Wartman, a former Wall Street equity researcher, makes a pizza in Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaMason Wartman,
Owner, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza

Mason Wartman, once a Wall Street stock researcher, found his calling of starting his own business after feeling like his job had plateaued.

He moved to Philly and opened Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, named after his mother. Using the simple buck-a-slice business model, he simultaneously also launched a pay-it-forward program.

Mason Wartman, insures that for each piece of pizza purchased at Rosa’s, one slice is donated to the homeless. So if you buy a pie (8 slices/$8) Rosa’s will sit 8 slices on the counter for homeless members of our community, sometimes 40 a day, to walk in and pick up a slice at no cost! The concept of paying for others’ pizza ahead of time started when a customer wanted to buy a slice for someone in need and wrote it on a a post-it note. Today, post-it notes cover the walls inside the shop from patrons wishing those in need some words of encouragement.

BigBite Philly is proud to support this forward-thinking mission and will be donation a portion of the Philly Chili Bowl proceeds to Rosa’s.

ZavalaJennifer Zavala,
Top Chef alumn, Chef of Cherrybomb Bus, and host of Scrapple Internet TV

A chef hat is not the only hat Jennifer Zavala, former Bravo’s Top Chef alumn, wears.  Jen dabbles in many things – all with one common theme – food. She has worked in several notable Latin-driven restaurants and gastropubs in Philly before launching her own food truck, CherryBomb Bus.

Jen has also been part of several local and unique food events including Hen’s Revenge, a female-focused industry night, pop-ups at Garage Philly (with food-themes like “Roseanne”), and most recently will be working on the High-End Cuisine TV show on Scrapple internet TV, an online TV show which Jen is also a host for.

Note: Scrapple TV will be at Philly Chili Bowl taping live!

Philly Chili Bowl 2014 Judges

The quality of food and people are equally integral components at BigBite events. That said, it has always been important to find great judges – people who know a great deal about food – but who are also just great people, period. We are truly thankful for this year’s crop of judges as they are all that and more. Get to know them!


Lily Fischer, Pastry Chef/Founder of A Cupcake Wonderland, and Cake Life Bake Shop 

Aside from being a Philly native who is truly a bright ray of sunshine, Lily is a classic example of Philadelphia culinary ingenuity. The former preschool teacher (and Wing King 3 Champ) discovered she had a knack for baking out of this world cupcakes, and other sweets, just six years ago. Eager to develop these talents she graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia’s Baking and Pastry program and founded A Cupcake Wonderland in 2009. Having won the “Cupcake Wars” (check out the audition video – dope) and been featured on the reality show three times, Lily has thrived through the recent explosion of the Philly cupcake industry and has grown much larger than just cupcakes.  Now partnered with her best friend from Sarah Lawrence College, Nema Etemadi, the Philly queen of confections is poised to present Cake Life Bake Shop, a new venture! We can’t wait and we are very excited, and honored to have her weighing in on this years competition!!!


Christopher Kearse, Chef/Owner, Will BYOB

A Levitown native, Christopher Kearse found a love for food by watching the Food Network.  Combining that passion with an exceptional amount of creativity and determination, he has become one of the city’s rising stars, opened Will BYOB his Modern French BYOB, and continues to blow minds with the sheer artistry of his food preparation.Though this will be his first judging post at BigBite’s Philly Chili Bowl, we’ve been blessed with Kearse’s great energy at other events and are very pumped to see what he thinks of this year’s fierce competition. If you are not familiar with Chris, get to the state store before 9 and see his handiwork for yourself at Will  BYOB pronto! Welcome to the team Chris!


Drew Lazor, Food & Drink writer

After five years of judging both the Philly Chili Bowl and Wing King, Drew is one of our most beloved judges! This seasoned vet has one of the most respected palettes in the city and is even more widely known for writing great articles about the myriad of notable food and drink attractions in the Philly area. If  there is a place that offers good food or fancy cocktails, he has been there – and probably wrote about it. Follow him, introduce yourself, do what you have to do he will not steer you wrong! Welcome back Drew!


Candice Birdsong, Chef/Food Blogger and founder Co-Founder of Addiction Boutique

We are sooooo stoked to welcome this new judge to the BigBite circuit!

You may remember her from this summer’s airing of “Cupcake Wars“, representing Philly with team Cookie Confidential…or perhaps you snatched one of her many delicious recipes off of her blog Pretty Girls Can Cook hmmm… or maybe she gave you a makeup or fashion consultations at the Addiction Boutique in Center City? If you managed to miss this local authority on good food and high fashion, Philly Chili Bowl 5 is your chance to get familiar. Please give a hearty BigBite welcome to Mount Airy’s own Candice Birdsong!!

BigBite is clearly  focused on food, but also how food relates to other aspects our culture. That said, it is awesome to have judges with so many talents. Come see how Candice rates this years crop of contestants!!

Wing King 5 – Judges Scores

FINALLY IN: Full judge’s results of Wing King 5! Check out your favorite wings and how they rated!  Now we wait a year, for it all to happen again. (sad face).

Judges were kept anonymous in this rating system. J1 = Judge 1. If you missed who judged Wing King 5, check them out here.

2013 #Wk5 Judges (Missing Josh Schonewolf!)

2013 #Wk5 Judges (Missing Josh Schonewolf!)

Don’t forget to check out Wing King 5 photos here!  Happy Cluckin’ ya’ll!

WING #1 – Garlicky Lick-Yo-Fingas Wings
J1: 38 – super spicy
J2: 33
J3: 36 – A little heavy on the garlic aftertaste
J4: 36 – Good Start. Very traditional
J5: 33 – Tangy! Little too heavy on the garlic
TOTAL: 176

Wing #2 – Hanzo’s Return
J1: 38 – Great texture
J2: 37 – Great spice
J3: 34 – Great flavor but the texture wasn’t great
J4: 39 – Loved the spice marinade on the wings
J5: 29 – Nice flavor. Jerk sauce? Tangy
TOTAL: 177

Wing #3 – Chewey’s Chicken & Waffles Wing (2013 1st Place Winner)
J1: 47 – Amazing. Inventive
J2: 37 – Very creative
J3: 43 – Great idea, good execution
J4: 44 – Good shock factor, was surprised how well this was pulled off
J5: 39 – creativity points! Very well executed. A bit sweet but a fun concept
TOTAL: 210

Winning Wing - Chewey's Waffle Wings

Winning Wing – Chewey’s Waffle Wings

Wing #4 – Charleston Chicken
J1: 11 – Applesauce + Fish = Not good
J2: 27
J3: 26 – So, so
J4: 22 – Weird consistency. A little dry
J5: 16 – soggy consistency. Too fishy
TOTAL: 102

Wing #5 – The KoreanQ (2013 2nd Place Winner)
J1: 42 – Perfect texture, sauce was perfectly spiced
J2: 39
J3: 36 – Could be crispier
J4: 38 – Good smoke, slightly too sweet, nice finish
J5: 54 – nice smoky note, but mushy
TOTAL: 209

Wing #6 – XuXu Wings
J1: 25 – runny sauce, weird texture
J2: 35
J3: 37 –  Didn’t love the sauce
J4: 26 – Good char, needs more balance, gummy skin
J5: 23 – good smoke but watery sauce and soft flesh
TOTAL: 146

Wing #7 – Wife Beater Wings
J1: 22 – slimy, nice presentation
J2: 36
J3: 32 – Nice spice. Too sweet
J4: 28 – slightly sweet, decent spice finish
J5: 19 – Just off. Soggy. Weird consistency
TOTAL: 137

Wing #8
J1: 43 – Beautiful sauce, texture was crunchy
J2: 35
J3: 40 – great spice/sweet ratio
J4: 38 – best classic wing yet, good sauce
J5: 25
TOTAL: 181

Wing #9 – There’s…Something on the Wing
J1: 35 – Applesauce-y
J2: 36
J3: 34 – Great spice. Not  balanced with sweet/salt
J4: 31 – looks awesome, slightly tough
J5: 21 – too sweet
TOTAL: 157

Wing #10 – Flying Through Malibu
J1: 10
J2: 22 – no crisp on the skin
J3: 12
J4: 13 – Weird
J5: 10 – soggy

Wing #11 – Mississippi Masala
J1: 27 – Plain Jane
J2: 39
J3: 29 – Not enough flavor on the wing
J4: 36
J5: 26
TOTAL: 157

Wing #12 – Flight of the Dodo
J1: 30 – Forgettable
J2: 27
J3: 31 – Sauce was not bangin
J4: 18
J5: 33
TOTAL: 139

Wing #13 –VooDoo Wings
J1: 5
J2: 34
J3: 37
J4: 34
J5: 27
TOTAL: 137

Wing #14 – Honey Lime “Right On Time” Chipotle Wings (2013 3rd Place Winner)
J1: 40 – Delicious flavors. Perfect Spice
J2: 35
J3: 40 – Awesome. Just a little too sweet
J4: 42
J5: 33
TOTAL: 190

Wing #15 – The Phillerbuster
J1: 27 – It was fine
J2: 32
J3: 34 – Great flavor
J4: 33
J5: 28 – Nice little heat
TOTAL: 154

Wing #16
J1: 46 – Beautiful
J2: 31
J3: 31 – Dry needs sauce
J4: 23
J5: 30 – Spicy skin!
TOTAL: 161

Wing #18 – WING.LOSE, OR CA-CAW! (2013 People’s Choice Winner)
J1: 32
J2: 37
J3: 35 – Almost. Good flavor. Needs a little salt
J4: 31
J5: 29
TOTAL: 164

The Judges of Wing King 5

What a heavy hitting line-up! We are ecstatic to add this illustrious list of Wing King 5 judges. Some are new to the panel, while others are returning to once again crown a winner.


Emilio Mignucci, Di Bruno Bros.

Emilio Mignucci is the godfather of the gourmet foods, cheese and meat specialties empire known as Di Bruno Bros. Third generation owner, Emilio has sustained a very important brand in Philly that has provided quality foods from around the world and has enabled our city to explore and taste these wonderful  flavors. From meat, to cheese, to olive oils, to fish and pate’s, Di Bruno Bros has been a staple in our community offering quality food products.

Emilio spends a good portion of his time educating the restaurants who want to teach their staff the merits of a great cheese plate and how to talk about cheese with confidence to their guests. Emilio is taking a break from schooling people and will join the BigBite judges panel for a second time – (he helped crown the winners of Philly Chili Bowl 2012) – and joins Wing King for the first-time.


Chad Williams, Fairmount Grocery

Though Wing King 5 will be his first BigBite competition, Williams is no stranger to cooking excellence! A long time right hand man to Jose Garces, Williams has worked as Chef De Cuisine at Amada and Chifa, in addition to making appearances on Iron Chef. The Philadelphia native is currently in the process of opening Fairmount Grocery, a spicy spin on the growing Fresh grocer/restaurant trend. Fairmount Grocery will be located on the corner of 19th and Fairmount Streets (in front of that old Noam Chomsky Mural). We look forward to much more to come for Williams. Opening a restaurant in addition to evaluating 20 of the city’s top wing chefs in the is a lot for anyone’s plate, lucky for us, Williams also attended Central High school, an incubator for world renowned multitasking trendsetters with unmatched work ethic.

Doug Allen2

Dog Allen, Lacroix
photo credit: Drew Lazor

Another first-timer on the judge’s panel, Doug Allen, Sous Chef of the amazing and next-level kitchen, Lacroix will join in on the Wing King crown. Allen is a young and talented Chef who has been under the direction of many Philly notable restaurants, such as Amada, Morimoto, Osteria and now Lacroix. At Lacroix he is pushing culinary buttons with new and inventive constantly changing dishes.  Although Allen is not able to show his culinary skills at Wing King he sure can identify those that will bring the heat with their wing recipes!

Shout out to Doug for his recent engagement that just happened in Japan.


Drew Lazor, Food & Drink writer

After five years of judging both the Philly Chili Bowl and Wing King, Drew just keeps coming back! Now crowing his third Wing King (or Queen), Drew is ready to tackle another 20 wings this year!

Lazor, is a BigBite resident judge, and has crowded seven BigBite winners in his time. On his spare time – when he is not judging – Lazor is a distinguished and talented freelance food and drink writer, eater, and overall just a cool dude. If  there is a place that offers good food or good booze, then he has been there – and probably wrote about it. Take note, you need to follow this guy!

photoJosh Schonewolf, Josh Can’t Cook Blogger

Josh Schonewolf is a 32 year old Philadelphia personality, mostly known for his nationally-recognized food blog “Josh Can’t Cook.” He’s also known as one of the top event producers in Philadelphia, producing successful events such as: Ratchet Wednesdays at Tabu, Bearlesque, Eat It Cabaret, and Forced Entry. He produces everything from small-scale to large-scale events, pageants, singing competitions, dance parties, and charity events. Josh’s charity work has always had a strong connection to his events and blog, as Josh works closely with a lot of the LGBT charities in Philadelphia. He also writes for Philadelphia Magazine and PhillyGayCalendar. Josh joins us for the first time on the judge’s panel and is excited to crown the 5th Wing King/Queen!

We cannot thank our judges enough for joining the team! Check them out this Saturday!

4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl Judge: Falon Joslyn

Actress/ Director


Some people live for their children, some live for that almighty dollar, but Falon Joslyn, is the rare type that lives for chili.  Philly Chili Bowl 4’s first film star judge often struggles to find the balance between what she loves to eat, and what will provide the results needed to prepare for that next role.  As a veteran of the Philadelphia restaurant scene for over 10 years, Falon has been exposed to some of the most prominent chefs and dishes our city has to offer.  Her love of unique and well balanced dishes has allowed her to find a connection between the two worlds that often seem to be polar opposites.  If you’re a competitor looking to score high on Falon’s ballot, she says, “I like the food I eat to be like the characters I play in films: different, spicy, and with a whole lot of personality.”

Besides seeing Falon at BigBite’s Philly Chili Bowl judging and acting like the chili is delicious, you can check her acting in the sorority slasher, Alpha Girls.  Joslyn stars as Morgan, an Alpha Beta pledge that uncovers a demonic evil and must find a way to save her sisters from the oncoming darkness.

Shot on location inside a 120 year old  frat house on Jefferson’s campus, Alpha Girls also stars legendary pipeman, Ron Jeremy and Philly gangsta rap icon, Schoolly D. (Aqua Teen Hunger Force.  Number one in the hood G!)

Bonus Clip

4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl Judge: Angela Ranalli

Angela Ranalli
Pastry Chef, Le Virtu Restaurant


Pastry Chef, Angela Ranalli has been making Italian sweets since a very young age. As a child Angela helped her mother prepare traditional Italian cookies, cannoli, and breads, rolling each out and decorating each one by hand. Accompanied by her even younger siblings, she traveled weekly with her mother to the coast to sell their wares at local markets and festivals. The weekend sales eventually evolved into her mother, Linda, opening her own Italian restaurant and catering business in New Jersey, where the entire family worked side by side in the kitchen.

Raised in a household where three generations of Italians lived together under one roof, the old ways of Italy survived and were passed down to the youngest generation. Her family has a strong mystical background, given they came from the region of Abruzzo, where legends and superstitions abound, even to this day. These ancient beliefs have strong ties to food and farming, therefore the most auspicious time to seed or harvest plants, get married, have a baby, etc. were calculated according to phase of the moon and stars. This carried over naturally into cooking. Pane di Pasqua, (Easter Bread) was only made on Easter Sunday. It is said that it will not rise or bake the right way on another day out of the year. Polenta is always made at the first snowfall to welcome the spirit of winter, and so forth.

As an adult, Angela attended culinary school in Philadelphia, PA, and worked under French Pastry Chef Michel Gras, in Cape May, NJ specializing in wedding cakes. Later, returning to Philadelphia, she took over the pastry program for Water Works Restaurant. She also continued to further her studies in the ancient art of astrology and Italian folklore. She has traveled abroad extensively, and has lived in Italy off and on over the past 13 years. Now bridging the past, present, and future through her desserts as pastry chef at Abruzzese restaurant “Le Virtu” in Philadelphia, the sultry chef puts a modern spin on rustic dishes oftentimes incorporating ingredients known to be aphrodisiacs, but which are also indigenous to the region of Abruzzo. Check out this CHOCOLATE RAVIOLI she created and showed off on NBC’s In the Kitchen:

We cannot express how excited we are to have Pastry Chef Angela Ranalli on the judges’ panel! With a strong mystical background, we hope to hear her predictions on how the 4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl will go!

4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl Judge: Joe Bernstein

BigBite Resident Judge

Joe Berner

Mr. Bernstein – the OG judge who has participated in all of BigBite events is back again! He has literally crowned every single BigBite food competition winner and will do it again this March 9th. As the son of two judges, Mr. Bernstein, clearly has the appetite to judge – your food. His special sense of taste and unique word play at the judges table make him a crowd favorite. Keep an eye out for this guy!

Mr. Bernstein is the great-grandson of Schmulka Bernstein’s famous Kosher Deli in Brooklyn, is an avid wiffle ball player, Rubix cube solver and champion connect four player.