The Great Petaluma Chili Cook-off, Salsa, and Beer Tasting

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The 2012 VIP Judges

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Dick KapashMeet Supreme Court Justice Dick Kapash

Dick is a retired business executive who, with his wife Edith, founded SOLA Optical in Petaluma in 1979. He is a director, treasurer and past president of the Cinnabar Theater board.  Dick also serves as a member of his local homeowners association board and treasurer of Tomales Transit board.  He has run numerous companies manufacturing and distributing lenses for both eyeglasses and contacts. Having spent much of his business life traveling internationally and taking pleasure in sampling food from all over the world, his palate is refined to the point where he is ready to lead the judging of the Great Petaluma Chili Cook-off. Dick has led the judging for 7 of the past 8 years and is enthusiastic about returning this year! "I can't get enough of those fine Chili dishes, the recipes are always a refreshing surprise," says Dick “and the chili, salsa and beer keep getting better each year!”

David GlassMeet Judge David Glass

In David's words "It is my pleasure to serve as a judge of the Chili Cook-off. This will be a difficult task as I don't believe I have ever tasted an entry that I did not like. They start at really good and go to great. I tend to like it hot but as Harry Truman said if you can't take the heat stay out of the kitchen.

“I love Cinnabar, Chili, and Salsa so this is not only a must do event but obviously one of my favorite days of the year. I want to thank Cinnabar for all of the work they do in our community with our youth, the school program, and the family entertainment they bring to our community. Every contestant is a winner simply by being here today.”

“I want to wish all of the contestant's good luck, and I truly am just glad to be able to help. I hope you will enjoy this event as much as I do”

Ryan WilliamsMeet Judge Ryan Williams

Ryan Williams is an Asset manager and mortgage underwriter and owns a tax relief company.He is currently studying to become an Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist. He works with Rebuild Petaluma Together, Butter and Eggs, 501st Legion Golden Gate Garrison, 20-30 Club, and supports the Phoenix.
Ryan loves cooking and has a few great chili recipes of his own. He has attended the Great Chili Cook Off the last five years, now three times as a judge, and it is one of his favorite events. “ I love the cook off; I enjoy the themes, costumes and most of all the chili; I love super hot chili…looking forward to the burn and seeing everyone there... And you never know what I'll dress as." Sorry ladies....this man is unavailable...he just got engaged.

YovannaMeet Judge Yovanna Bieberich

Yovanna Bieberich is community/entertainment reporter and page-designer for the Petaluma Argus-Courier. Though she's been with the Argus for 12 years, she officially became a Petaluma resident in 2010 and is thrilled to finally be living in a chili-loving community. A veteran judge of the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff, Yovanna is a Food Network junkie who enjoys spending time in the kitchen and considers chili to be one of her favorite things to make. "Chili is the ultimate comfort food," she said. "I could eat it every day!"

Steve JaxtonMeet Judge Steve Jaxon

Steve Jaxon is currently the host of KSRO's "The Drive", Sonoma County's only live daily talk show featuring a mix of politics, comedy, and live music. Steve has been a voice on Sonoma Country radio for more than 20 years from his work on popular morning shows on KREO and KHTT, to the hundreds of commercials he has voiced and produced through his company Vicario Productions. He is also the host of a 2 hour weekly show: "Swingin' With Sinatra" that airs in the U.S. (including Santa Rosa), Canada and Europe.

Jason JenkinsMeet Judge Jason Jenkins

Jason Jenkins is the great, great, great nephew of Sonoma County’s, own, General Mariano Vallejo.   Jenkins, a former swimsuit model and escargot farmer,  is a Petaluma native and has some 36 first cousins in this county, alone – all of whom enjoy a good cup of chili.  His wine bar and retail bottle shop, Vine and Barrel, is a centerpiece to the culinary district in the main, downtown area of historical Petaluma.  Jenkins’ first love for chili stems back to his aunt Jessie’s amazing, truly Mexican bowl of searing, sweet beans.  Jenkins’ contact with aliens, he maintains, has increased, both,  the capacity and ability of his palate to distinguish and discern tastes and flavors in all their nuance as he seeks to find that one, very chili, that reigns supreme above all the rest.


Mike HarrisMeet Judge Mike Harris

Mike Harris, Chairman Emeritus of the Young Professionals Network of Petaluma is the Senior Vice President of CrossCheck, Inc. (a National Payment Guarantee Company) and serves on the City Council for the City of Petaluma. Mike was elected to the City Council in 2002 as one of the youngest Councilmen ever elected in Petaluma. Mike was re-elected to the City Council in 2006 as the top vote getter and was re-elected in 2010 once again as the top vote getter. Mike served as the Vice Mayor of Petaluma in 2005 and has served on many boards and commissions. Mike has served on the Transit Advisory Committee for Petaluma (Chairman from 2009-2010), the Technology & Telecommunications Committee (Chairman from 2008-2009) and the Airport Commission to name a few. In 2010, Mike was honored as one of the top 40 business leaders under 40 years old by the North Bay Business Journal.

Theresa BarrettJudge Teresa Barrett

Teresa Barrett is in her third year as a chili cookoff judge, although she is a former competitor in the event! Teresa and her family have lived in Petaluma over 30 years where she has been active in the schools and throughout the community. Judging salsa is a tough job, but she has been preparing for over a year now and is confident that she is up to the task!

Marie McCuskerMeet Judge Marie McCusker

Marie McCusker, Executive Director of the Petaluma Downtown Association and Visitors Center. Marie and her team produce the Butter & Egg Days Parade, Antique Fares and the Art & Garden Festival. Born and raised in the UK, her background in non profit and business management has taken her around the world to settle here over 10 years ago. “I just love Petaluma, it has a lot of soul and there is always something fun going on” . Honored to be a judge at the Chili Cook off can’t think of better reason to lend out my taste buds than to help raise funds for Cinnabar Theater!

Jason DaviesMeet Judge Jason Davies

"I'm truly honored to help select the best salsa in this very special culinary contest to benefit Cinnabar – thank you for the opportunity.... Me encanta la salsa (I love salsa)!"

Jason E. Davies is a Media Technology Executive specializing in international marketing, business development, and mobile applications. He Chairs the Technology Advisory Committee, serves on the board of Petaluma Community Access, Friends of Shollenberger Park, and is a member of the North Bay Rowing Club. In 2010, Davies made his first run for City Council and was the fourth highest vote getter in a field of nine candidates with two incumbents. His endorsements included nationally syndicated tech broadcaster Leo Laporte, the Press Democrat, and prominent public servants including Mayor Pamela Torliatt and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey. Davies strongly advocates for protecting Petaluma's historic charm and natural resources while promoting sustainable economic development. Davies is a SF Bay area native and graduated from UCSC with a degree in Politics (double major in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Policy and Planning). Davies is also a musician/composer/producer and lives with his wife and two children in Petaluma.

Geneva AndersonMeet Judge Geneva Anderson

Geneva is a free-lance journalist and publishes ARThound, a blog that covers art and culture with an emphasis on the Bay Area.  She was raised on a small farm just up the road from Cinnabar Theater and worked as a journalist in Eastern Europe and the Balkans for several years where she tried many exotic foods as well as honed techniques for canning, curing, and distilling. She grows a lot of her own food and cooks "all the time."  Heirloom tomatoes and squashes have a large spot in her garden and she loves to make salsa.  "There's nothing better than salsa made from the freshest ingredients. " 

Joe DavisMeet Judge Joe Davis
Joe Davis and his wife Carol Davis are the Dining Detectives who have done reviews of over 200 Restaurants.

 The reviews are published in the Petaluma Post as Epicurean Episodes at,  as The Toque of San Francisco, at and at

Nick GrizzleMeet Judge Nick Grizzle

Nicolas Grizzle is a freelance journalist specializing in versatility. He is a frequent contributor to the North Bay Bohemian and The Community Voice Newspaper. He wrote a humorous cooking column, Grizzle on the Griddle, in the Community Voice for five years and writes investigative news, restaurant reviews and music columns for the Bohemian. His love for chili is unmatched, and dreams of challenging Bobby Flay to a smackdown of his own.

Nicolas enjoys competitive cooking and cooking anything with meat, especially bacon. Locally, he has competed in the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff and the Bring Your Baby Back Rib Cookoff. Rumor has it he accepts bribes and has no shame in doing so.

Nicolas is also a freelance sound engineer and drum teacher in Sonoma County and beyond. He grew up in Rohnert Park, in school from elementary through college and now lives in Santa Rosa. This Sonoma County product has a passion for local foods and beverages, especially craft brews and cheeses.

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