Category Archives: Judges

4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl Judge: Drew Lazor

BigBite Philly’s Resident Judge
Freelance writer for the Philly Daily News

Drew2013Mr. Lazor has been on the Philly Chili Bowl wagon since it’s inception in 2010. He has survived over 50 types of chilis throughout the Philly Chili Bowl reign – therefore Mr. Lazor knows exactly what he wants in a “good” chili. This awesomely-talented food writer has been hip to the Philly food scene for years and has been pivotal in spreading information about relevant eateries across town. You should listen to what he says.

Mr. Lazor is currently a freelance writer for the Philly Daily News and an extreme Baltimore Ravens fan.

4th Annual Philly Chili Bowl Judge: Jason Cichonski

Chef and Owner, Ela Restaurant 

Chef Jason Cichonski is Philadelphia’s brightest rising star chefs.  His artful American restaurant,  Ela (627 South 3rd Street) is located in Queen Village, and is amazing!  Ela’s menu changes frequently throughout the year, to reflect the season’s finest ingredients and Chef Cichonski’s creative, boundary-pushing presentations.  Ela has garnered praise and a “Three Bells: Excellent” review by Craig LaBan.

Jason Cichonski served as executive chef of Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel when he was just 24 years old.  Lacroix was one of the city’s only “Four Bells: Superior” fine dining restaurants at the time. Jason’s cooking quickly impressed many peers and food enthusiast alike.  Before his success at Lacroix, Chef Cichonski worked in other highly praised kitchens, including the Pluckemin Inn in Bedminster, NJ and Moonlight, a progressive American restaurant in New Hope, PA.

Born and raised in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, Chef Cichonski is a graduate of University City’s The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College.

Today, he resides in Philadelphia & can nearly always be found in the kitchen at Ela…but not on March 9th! Chef Cichonski will be joining us for the first time on the judge’s panel as he takes on 25 types of chilis.

4th Annual Wing King Judge – Chef Scott Schroeder

Although Chef Scott Schroeder has not judged a Wing King event just yet, he knows what to expect when BigBite offers 20 crazy mash-ups of flavors! Chef Scott broke the seal when he judged the 2nd Annual Philly Chili Bowl. We welcome him back to the judging panel!

A native of Detroit, Chef Scott Schroeder trained in his hometown under charcuterie expert and award-winning chef, Brian Polcyn.  After moving to Philadelphia in 1997 Chef Scott cut his teeth in the kitchen of many famed Philly standards like Brasserie Perrier, Passion and Jake’s. In his first ‘Chef’ position at Northern Liberties hot-spot Deuce, Schroeder garnered praise and a two-bell review from Craig Laban. Currently Chef Scott presides over the kitchens at the South Philadelphia Tap Room, another two-bell establishment, and American Sardine Bar where his menus reflect his passion for fresh, local ingredients and cooking from “scratch.”

He is also the Chef/Owner of Scott Dogs, a hot dog cart serving handmade hot dogs made with local pork and beef. During his free time he enjoys long walks on the beach and cooking with his 11-year old son, Luke. Follow his rants and raves on Twitter.

4th Annual Wing King Judge – Shao Zhong

We welcome a newbie to the BigBite judging panel; Shao Zhong! If you are up to speed with Philly food blogging, then you know this special lady with the awesome blog! Welcome to the Wing King flock Shao!

Born in southern China and grew up in the Chinatown area of Philadelphia, Shao is a food blogger who loves to eat as much as she loves to cook. She believes noodles is the greatest culinary invention in the world, followed closely by fried chicken. As a first time Wing King judge, Shao is taking her judging duties very seriously by practicing the art of deboning a chicken wing as you eat with one bite. Her blog, FriedWontons4u, focuses on family recipes and using Asian ingredients in non-Asian recipes.

4th Annual Wing King Judges

The 4th Annual Wing King is not a competition without it’s judges who sit through a 2-hour long tasting of 20+ wings. They are who  delicately taste, savor and examine the plethora of wings entered,  and  determine who will be crowned the WING KING/QUEEN of 2012!!

We want to thank and welcome back to our judges panel, our two resident judges and wings-perts:

DREW LAZOR: Food Editor, Mealticket Blog, CityPaper

This awesome Philly food scene-ster has been part of  the BigBite judging clan since 2010 when he came on-board for the 1st Annual Philly Chili Bowl, and has been with us since! Drew attacked his first Wing King as a judge last year and survived.

Drew knows exactly what BigBiteis all about: fun, food and competition. His stellar judging and his dashing good looks have made him a part of theBigBite family. Drew is the Food Editor for the Philadelphia City Paper. He leads the papers’ food blog, MealTicket. If you need a heads up on what to eat in the city, then check out MealTicket! We do!

JOE BERNSTEIN: BigBite Resident Judge

Judge Bernstein, followed his lineage not into law but into food judging.  An original member Judge, Joe Bernstein has been helped crown EVERY SINGLE BigBite winners.  With a warm spot for visually appealing meals, he is a discerning diner hoping to avoid culinary shortcomings when dining out.  His special sense of taste and unique word play at judging the BigBite entries leave Judge Bernstein a crowd favorite.  He looks forward to this years entries.

Kevin Sbraga – 2012 Philly Chili Bowl JUDGE

Chef Kevin Sbraga
Owner and Executive Chef,  Sbraga

Chef Kevin Sbraga discovered his passion for food and blending flavors while growing up in his father’s bakery, which he owned for 44 years in his native Willingboro, New Jersey – the place he still calls home. He credits both of his parents for inspiring him to love cooking and teaching him the importance of quality ingredients, customer service and following your passion.

Chef Sbraga has worked along-side several notable and respectable names such as famed Chef Georges Perrier, famed restaurateur Stephen Starr, and Philadelphia restaurateur and Iron Chef winner, Jose Garces. Among his biggest accomplishments, Chef Sbraga’s culinary talent garnered him national attention as he was chosen as a semifinalist at the famed Bocuse d’Or USA culinary competition.

For those of you food-on-TV junkies, he was also Bravo’s Top Chef: Season Seven Winner!!

Chef Kevin Sbraga opened “SBRAGA,” a modern American restaurant located on Philadelphia’s lively Avenue of the Arts. He prepares inventive, seasonal fare with a focus on local and sustainable ingredients. The intimate 60-seat dining room features a $45, four-course prix fixe menu of Chef Sbraga’s artful interpretations of American cuisine, as well as desserts from his talented wife, Pastry Chef Jesmary Sbraga.

Sbraga is a must try!

Emilio Mignucci – 2012 Philly Chili Bowl JUDGE

Emilio Mignucci
Third Generation Owner, Di Bruno Bros. Family Business

Emilio Mignucci graduated from the Restaurant School in 1986. Worked his way up to asstistant sous chef by the age of 19 at DiLullo’s Centro, Philadelphia’s premier Italian restaurant destination. By the age of 22 he was ready to help take his long time family business to the next level. He, with his partners, William and Bill, capitalized on the next wave of gourmet while at the same time expanding on the foundation of cheese lovers nurtured and developed by their uncles’ passions.

He helped grow the product selection from about 50 cheeses to well over 600 at any given time. Their regular offerings of olive oils and simple vinegars were expanded to reflect the travel conscience gourmand’s demand for great flavors. Truffle oils and pastes along with aged balsamics and great estate olive oils as well as a grand selection of patés and smoked fish were introduced.

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’s culinary background has helped him to be part of the N.A.S.F.T. tasting board for The Fancy Food Show in N.Y. and is also on the Retailer Network Council for N.A.S.F.T. Emilio is also very active in the American Cheese Society helping to create a cheese certification program, which should be ready in 2010. Di Bruno Bros was N.A.S.F.T.’s 2006 Retailer of the Year. He received an award in 2003 from the Chaine des Rotisseurs and was also honored in 2007 by the James Beard Foundation for his cheese knowledge.

In addition to all of his accomplishments, Emilio is also the nicest guy in South Philly!