Please check back SOON to see who our 2019 celebrity judges will be!
The 2018 Texas Food Truck Showdown Champion featured five celebrity judges for our fourth annual event on March 17, 2018. The judges sampled each truck’s signature dish from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., where they determined the overall champion and category winners. Once the celebrity judging was complete, the public was invited to taste each truck’s signature dish and voted on the People’s Choice Award winner from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Lilian Halabi, owner and baker of Lily’s Cakes, is the heart and soul of the specialty bakery in Harker Heights, Texas. She is a self-taught cake artist and baker who started her business in 2010 and has been serving the needs of the Central Texas area since. Her background is rich in different cuisines, from South America to the Middle Eastern and American. Recently, Halabi won a Food Network Cake Wars competition (the Monopoly episode of Season 4) and was voted Best in Central Texas from 2013 to 2016.
Chef Tai Lee
Chef Tai Lee, owns and operates four gourmet eateries: Veritas Wine & Bistro, Madden’s Casual Gourmet, Paolo’s Italian Kitchen, and Chef Tai’s Mobile Bistro. Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea, and when he was 13, his family moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Five years later, Lee started at A&M as an electrical engineering major. He switched gears to finance and worked part-time as a sushi chef at Haiku Sushi & Hibachi Grill. That’s where he discovered his knack for cooking.
Doug Renfro is president of Renfro Foods and oversees new product development. He also helps manage a number of administrative areas of the business. Reared in the family business, Renfro has spent a majority of his career working in a number of different capacities at Renfro Foods. For instance, as a teenager, Renfro worked in production, while in college he weighed out all the spices for daily production. He is also involved in a number of professional and community organizations, is a past president of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, the Texas Food Processors Association and the North Texas Food Sales Association. He is also on the McDonald Observatory Board of Visitors and the Chile Pepper Institute’s Advisory Council, among others.
Mitch Siegert graduated from the Culinary Institute of America with two degrees: one in Ciliary Arts and the other in Baking & Pastry Arts. Siegert has worked for many unique food establishments, including The Food Network and The Ritz Carlton. He moved back to Bryan/College Station to open Truman Chocolates. Their chocolates require a delicate and time-consuming process that averages about three days. Truman Chocolates has won various awards and been featured on the local news several times.
Chef Erica Waksmunski, owner of Red Star Southern food truck in East Austin, is serving up everyone’s favorite comfort foods. She started as a pastry commis in Chicago at the Everest and quickly moved up to pastry chef at Flyte in Nashville, Tennessee. After spending a few years in Nashville she headed to California until she landed the pastry chef position at Chez TJ in Mountain View. In 2012 she moved to Austin to take over as executive pastry chef of Congress Austin and Second Bar + Kitchen. Waksmunksi is now focused on Waksmunski trailer in Austin. Additionally, Waksmunski and Red Star Southern have been featured in Austin Monthly and Thrillist for Best New Restaurants, Eater for Austin’s Best Food Trucks, Southern Living Magazine for The Best Food Trucks in the South and Austin Monthly as the Best New Chef. Currently, Waksmunksi is focusing on turning the trailer into a brick-and-motar.