Philip Speer (President)
Philip Speer (President of the Jury), Executive Pastry chef and Culinary Director of Uchi and Uchiko Restaurants in Texas
Philip Speer will tell you that his career began, in earnest, when he crossed the threshold at Uchi. In 2005, he called Chef and Owner Tyson Cole on his cell phone after hearing they were looking for a pastry chef and asked, “Hey, you need me?” Cole, having no idea who he was, was surprised, maybe a little freaked out, but intrigued. He hired the cocky 27 year old Speer, who proceeded to work thirty days straight, 12-15 hours a day, with no pay. Day 30, his 28th birthday, he was hired.
Speer did not necessarily follow a traditional path on his way to Uchi. When Speer was 17, he was dating a girl whose father happened to be a pastry chef. “Their family was beautiful, French, awesome and amazing and that’s how I discovered what I wanted to do,” Speer remembers. Her dad said, “Go work in bakeries and learn the skill and craft of baking, then take that into restaurants.” Speer continues, “I started working in scratch bakeries for five years straight in Austin and Houston before I switched over to restaurants. Following that path gave me a few more tricks in my bag to bring into the restaurant kitchen.”
Speer worked with noted chef and friend Shawn Cirkiel at Jean Luc’s Bistro before heading to Houston to help open Jean-Georges restaurant, Bank, under the direction of chef Bryan Caswell. In 2005 he made his way back to Austin and made that fateful cell phone call to Tyson Cole. Known early on for his savory and sweet desserts, the culture of collaboration at Uchi coupled with his own need to push the envelope allowed for Speer to have input on all menus, and not just desserts. Over the years of menu development with Paul (Qui) and Tyson on both sides of the kitchen, Speer learned more about how the kitchen worked and took it upon himself, “to learn everything there was to know about the restaurant because I was so in love with it,” he says. This love of Uchi culture and his personal drive led him to take on the role of Culinary Director in addition to his Executive Pastry Chef duties.
During Speer’s tenure at Uchi he has racked up four semifinalist nods in the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Pastry Chef category as well StarChef.com Rising Star Pastry Chef in 2012 and a listing among Zagat’s National Power Players 2014. Speer has received awards in the Austin Chronicle, the Austin-American-Statesman and Texas Monthly as well as national recognition in Bon Appetit, Food + Wine, Cooks Illustrated, and U.S.A. Today.
“My wife, (Swift’s Attic Executive Pastry Chef Callie Speer) and my daughters Ella (14) and Lucia (5) inspire me every day. I was a skateboarder and being a part of that world introduced me to the graffiti movement. That whole culture embodies free thinking and breaking boundaries and I think that has influenced my approach to food. Rules are made to be broken if it’s delicious. Being connected to that culture has also allowed me to do amazing things like the food and music collaboration I did in Houston with rapper Bun B. A completely unique experience that I cannot wait to do again.”
“My major chef influences are people like Sam Mason, Jon Iuzzini, Curtis Duffy, Michael Laiskonis as well as my main mentor, Tyson and of course Paul (I think we sort of mentored eachother). I try to take inspiration and influence from everything around me: books, music, smells, nostalgia, things I see on the street, anything.”
Kelly Bone is a Los Angeles based freelance food writer. Since 2011, she’s written regularly for Slice and Serious Eats focusing on west coast events and every slice of pizza she could get her hands on. Her work has appeared in Edible OC, Los Angeles Times, Pizza Today, LAist and elsewhere. Kelly writes about vegetarian dining at TheVegFoodie.com and is known to order the entire desert menu whenever possible.
Counselor Fabrizio Nava was born 1969. He graduated from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” in 1993 with a degree in Political Science.
He joined the Italian Foreign Service in 1995. His first assignment was at the Directorate General for Political Affairs.
He began serving on foreign postings at the Embassy of Italy in New Delhi, India, from 1998 to 2002, as First Secretary for Consular and Press Affairs. While in India he obtained a post-graduate degree in Human Rights & International Humanitarian Law & Refugee Law from the “Indian Academy of International Law and Diplomacy” of New Delhi .
From 2002 to 2006 he was First Secretary for Commercial Affairs at the Embassy of Italy in Ottawa, Canada. Then he returned to Rome at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate General for Development Aid, where he held the positions of Chief of Staff, Head of Unit for scolarships then Head of Unit for bilateral Aid to Sub Saharan Africa.
He was appointed Consul General of Italy in Houston on July 15, 2010.
Fabrizio Nava is fluent in English, French and Spanish, and has a good knowledge of German. He is married and has a six years old daughter.
LUCIANA POLLIOTTI (Selection Juror)
Luciana Polliotti is a journalist and historian specialized in artisan gelato and cooking. She has collaborated with newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, including names like Einaudi, Feltrinelli, and Lupetti-Editori di Comunicazione. She published Gelati, Gelati in 1999, which that year became one of the top five food books worldwide and Book of the Year in Italy, winning the Versailles World Cookbook Award from ICR, The International Cookbook Revue. One of the founders of the Gelato World Cup and Gelato at the Table, she is currently in charge of public relations for the organizing committees of the two events.
Damian Mandola has 38 years of extensive restaurant experience and belongs to one of Texas’ most successful restaurant families.
Damian opened his first restaurant, Damian’s Fine Italian Food, as a college senior in 1975 at the age of twenty-two.
In 1977 he opened a second restaurant, D’Amico’s, back home in Houston. He later sold this establishment and founded Damian’s Cucina Italiana in 1984, which has maintained its name and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
He then co-founded Carrabba’s Italian Grill in December of 1986 with his nephew Johnny Carrabba. Carrabba’s outstanding food quality and customer service caught the interest of Florida based Outback Steakhouse Inc. and led to a partnership in 1993, There are currently 240 Carrabba’s Italian Grill locations around the United States.
In 2001 Damian and Johnny were asked to host the nationally syndicated PBS series “Cucina Amore”. The show has been rated as one of the most popular on PBS. In addition, there are three companion cookbooks to the first three seasons, “ Ciao Ya’ll”, “Ciao Sicily” and “Ciao Tuscany”.
In 2006 Damian fulfilled a career long dream and opened Mandola’s Italian Market in Austin, then Mandola Estate Winery and Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood.
Besides the wonderful recipes from his family, Damian has been traveling extensively to his grandparents’ native Italy and throughout the United States for the past 34 years in search of unique Italian dishes. This attention to detail and willingness to offer high levels of customer service led directly to the success of Damian’s restaurants.
Dr. Robert Bradley
During his tenure in Food Science his research activities focused on the generai area of food products development, ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis, frozen dessert technology, analytical methods of food analysis and sensory evaluation of dairy foods. Dr. Bradley has over 100 peer reviewed technical articles, book chapters and one book on butter manufacturing. He holds 4 U.S. patents concerning dairy food processing.
Seth Chandler, founder and principle at DCA/DCPR (Davidson Chandler Advertising/Davidson Chandler Public Relations) is an award winning producer of television commercials, still photography, advertising and public relations campaigns and all sorts of communications tools. In his 30 years in the business, he’s collected more than 100 creative awards (Addies, Telly’s, Silver Microphones and Communicator Awards), the most recent of which were two Telly Awards for a hard hitting public service campaign for a regional healthcare foundation presented last month in Louisville, KY. Branding and affinity marketing are his specialties and his expertise continues to help build awareness for clients from Italy to Australia. From small offices scattered around the US, Chandler and his team represent more non-competing national clients in the foodservice industry than any other advertising agency in the US.
Addie Broyles is a writer based in Austin, Texas.
As a columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, she covers everything from cookbooks and recipes to farmers markets, trends and food businesses in the Wednesday food section and on her Austin360 blog, Relish Austin.
At home, when she’s not chasing after her two young sons, the Ozarks native and University of Missouri graduate writes about women and food at TheFeministKitchen.com and is the special projects chair of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance.
In April 2013, the History Press published “The Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook,” a community cookbook that Broyles spearheaded and whose production she oversaw.
Relish Austin, the column and food blog she writes for the Austin American-Statesman, won a National Headliner Award in 2012 and honors from the Society of Features Journalism and the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors.
In 2011, Addie was named by Tribeza magazine as one of the top 10 Austinites to watch and for the past two years has been voted the top food writer in the city by readers of the Austin Chronicle. CNN’s Eatocracy blog has a food crush on her.
Her freelance work has appeared in Dwell, The Guardian and Food Network Magazine. For recent clips, go to the “stories” tab at the top of the page.
Katherine L. Clapner
Culinary Institute of America – Hyde Park, NY – Baking, Pastry Arts – Apprentice – City Bakery, NY, NY
Savoy Hotel – London, England 1990-1993 – Claridges Hotel – London, England – Commis to demi chef de partis extended externship
Windsor Court Hotel – New Orleans 1993-1996 – Hotel Cipriani and Hotel Splendido – Assistant pastry chef
Four Seasons Hotel – Chicago 1996 – Pastry chef
Charlie Trotter – Chicago 1996-1997 – Pastry chef
Bread with Appeal – Chicago 1997-1998 – Pastry chef
Sapphire Restaurant – New Orleans 1998 – Pastry chef
Mikes on the Avenue – New Orleans 1998 – Contributing pastry chef for new dessert menu
Zoe’s Bakery – Covington, LA. 1998 – Assistant pastry chef
Star Concepts/Ebrands – Dallas 1998-2002 – Star Canyon, Canyonita, Aquaknox, Mignon, Samba Room, Timpano – Pastry chef for all Star Concept and Ebrands concepts
Central Market – Texas Region 2002-2005 – Opening bakery departments for Texas stores
Hilton Convention Center – Austin 2003-2005 – Pastry Chef
Wusthof Knives – National spokesperson and sponsored chef
Brookshire Bros. – Product development for bakery department
Wholesome Sweeteners – Recipe development for organic zero and stevia product lines
Coast Restaurant – Dessert menu development, training and pricing for new restaurant concept
Bolla Restaurant – Dessert menu development, training and pricing for new restaurant concept
Pf Chang’s – Dessert menu development for redesign of restaurant chain
Worlds Greatest Funerals – Specialty chocolate projects for television series
Flaming Lips – Specialty chocolate projects for band promotions
Southwestern Vegetarian – Contributing author of dessert chapter of the book
Matthew Stevens is a well respected journalist and editor of Dessert Professional Magazine, a journal that focuses on the business of desserts. He is an aficionado of the trends and an avid student of the worldwide dessert industry. He studied Psychology at McGill University and has a law degree from the New York School of Law.
Virginia B. Wood
Virginia B. Wood is a fifth-generation Texan and graduate of the University of Texas. She had successful careers as a pastry chef and caterer before becoming a food journalist. Her Food-o-File column was the first restaurant news column in Austin and she has been the food editor at the Austin Chronicle since 1997.