The Judging Panel
Meet the 2018 Judging Panel
Marilyn Johnson, founder of Philly Grub
Food and drink enthusiast Marilyn Johnson is the founder and curator of Philly Grub, a food news, reviews, and scene blog showcasing all that is good about eating and drinking in Philadelphia and South Jersey. Philly Grub shines a bright spotlight on the amazing food and drink to be found in the Delaware Valley, and is one of Philadelphia’s longest-running blogs. Marilyn is also a freelance writer for Chowhound’s Philadelphia City Guide, Philly Views, and Philly Review, and is a regular guest on Small Bites Radio.
Michael Klein, Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant columnist
Michael Klein, a restaurant columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com, has covered the dining scene in Philadelphia and its suburbs since 1993, when he took over the “Table Talk” column. He later edited the paper’s “Mystery Muncher” column, leading a merry band of populist “critics” (e.g. his friends) to scour the region for budget eats. Mike is the son of restaurateurs – precisely why he avoided a career in the business. His primary interests lie in the business and people sides of the industry, not the food itself.
Chef Barbie Marshall, Partner of Philadelphia’s SOOP Catering, All-Star Competitor on Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen
Chef Barbie Marshall is a Philadelphia native known as "The Farming Chef," as she often utilizes ingredients she has grown and sourced. Barbie began cooking professionally when offered a job at Ritz Hall Catering at the age of 14. After graduating from Johnson and Wales University in Norfolk, Virginia, Barbie completed her culinary externship at Todd Jurich’s Bistro, where she was hired and began researching and using local sustainable ingredients. She has pursued this passion in restaurants including The Smokehouse & Cooler, Cuisine & Company, Cobalt Grille, 1224 Raw Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge, Rx Restaurant, and SOOP Catering. Chef Barbie launched into the national stage when she finished as a finalist on Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen Season 10. She returned in Season 17 for a special edition of Hell’s Kitchen All-Stars. Chef Barbie participates in celebrity chef appearances and demonstrations from coast to coast.
Diana Sabater, Food Network's Ultimate Grand Chopped Champion and Owner of Diana's Spice Cantina, LLC
Diana Sabater, known as the Cop-turned-Chef, pursued her dreams of becoming a chef after 10 years on the Philadelphia police force. Sabater has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped and won three times, making her the “Ultimate Champion” on this popular competitive cooking show. She has cooked for celebrities Jennifer Lopez and Loren Ridinger and is also the owner of Diana’s Spice Cantina, creating her own brand of handcrafted spice blends and hot sauces.
Chef Rick Tarantino, Professional chef, media personality, QVC Celebrity Chef
Chef Rick Tarantino, appears as a celebrity chef on food programs all around the world, and locally acts as the Director of Culinary Research and Development for Rastelli Foods. He often appears on the QVC Network and on the hit show The Profit with Marcus Lemonis on CNBC. He has a BS degree from UMASS Amherst for the college of Food Science and Nutrition and a Master of Science from the prestigious Johnson & Wales University, where he had a 10-year career as both and executive and professor. From there he began his career on TV after befriending and training the Guinness book of world records youngest chef, Justin Miller, the two appeared on every major talk show and news station across the country from The Food Network to Good Morning America. When is not in the test kitchen or on TV, Rick has strong family centered values and spends all the time he can with family. Together with his wife they have two sons and three daughters and of course spend quality time cooking in the kitchen and sharing his love for food and people.
Chef Roberta Pipito, Award winning chef; food, beer and wine connoisseur and blogger - alternate
Roberta Pipito is an award winning chef; food, beer and wine connoisseur; TV lifestyle expert, contributor and blogger. Her passion for cooking began with her father (a professional baker) teaching her culinary ways and led her to create her brand in 2011. “Homemade Delish” seemed fitting for this wife and mother of two, who has been called “Philadelphia’s Rachel Ray.” Coming from a long line of family cooks in Brazil and Italy, she enjoys the art and science behind food as well as the taste. She is recognized for her recipes, love for wine, beer and photography, and coverage of major festivals. She wants the world to see that “With creativity and imagination, you can style anything to your taste."