The top eight contenders from the online voting period will move on to the Smackdown on September 8 to battle it out at the Santa Fe Railyard in front of a panel of local celebrity judges.
The esteemed judges are:
Cheryl Alters Jamison
Four-time James Beard award-winning author Cheryl Alters Jamison has written some 20 books, many focused on the cooking of New Mexico or the American Southwest, as well as being one of the country’s foremost authorities on grilling and barbecue. She created the New Mexico Tourism Department’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail and is the Culinary Editor of New Mexico Magazine.
Mary is an advocate for good and honest food and has worked in the industry since age thirteen. She is a private chef and a USDA Master Food Preserver, working to educate the community on safe home preservation practices, and is proud to have grown some amazing green chile at Vida Verde Farm. She spends her free time laying in her hammock with her cat and planning her next chicken coop renovation.
Tracey Ryder co-founded Edible Communities, Inc., the nation’s largest publishing company dedicated to the local foods movement, in 2002. Today the company publishes 85 titles across North America. The content for each publication is region-specific and focuses on the farmers, fishermen, chefs and food artisans from each area. Ms. Ryder has worked as a journalist, marketer and graphic designer for the culinary, tourism and agriculture industries for the past 30 years. She is a regular speaker at conferences and events in the culinary and publishing fields and has edited and co-written 5 Edible Communities cookbooks.
Since he was fifteen years old, Israel (Izz) Rivera has been working in kitchens. A high school dropout with no culinary education, Rivera says he learned the ropes from “awesome chefs who I worked for over the years and who inspired me to travel and learn as much as I can.” After two years as the sous chef at the Artichoke Café, in 2014 Rivera decided to open his own restaurant, The Shop Breakfast & Lunch, in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill neighborhood which now also offers the Night Shift. In addition, Rivera records and produces his own podcast, called mIZZ en place.
Enrique Guerrero, Bang Bite Filling Station and Previous Smackdown Winner
Bang Bite, a bright orange trailer with a shiny stainless interior, is owned and operated by Chef Enrique Guerrero. Guerrero has a love of food that’s been with him since he was a young boy eating his great-great grandmother’s cooking. He and his crew serve the very best food they can cook up and deliver it to longtime food lovers throughout Santa Fe.
Mark Oppenheimer lives in Santa Fe New Mexico. He pursues his passion for cooking working as a private chef in Santa Fe & Los Angeles. Mark writes the column ‘Chef 2 Chef’ in Local Flavor Magazine which is an ongoing dialogue with notable chefs and restaurateurs in and around Santa Fe. He is also writing a cookbook for kids ‘Bread Is Raw Toast’.