Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival 2022 – Meet the 2022 Hot Sauce Festival Judges: Meet the Taste Makers for This Year’s Competition – Cooking


Arati, Richard and Carrie (lr) enjoy gravy during the final round of judging (Photo by John Anderson)

Melanie Haupt

Austin Chronicle Food Editor
Eng: @auschronfoodeditor

Carrie Rodriguez


Rodriguez, a singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas, finds beauty in cross-pollinating various traditions. A passionate performer, she blends spirited fiddle playing, electrifying vocals, and fresh take on new and classic songs with an “Ameri-Chicana” attitude. His latest release, the critically acclaimed bilingual album

Lola, was named as one of NPR’s Top 50 Albums of the Year. Carrie has performed on stages in North America and Europe for the past decade, as well as on programs such as Austin city limits, The show tonight, A Prairie Housemateand NPR Small Office Gigs. Carrie wrote the music for American, which performed off-Broadway in March-June of this year, in addition to launching its Laboratorio residency in Austin. Laboratorio is a musical exploration, as well as a celebration of Latinx culture and its contribution to the American experience. For each live performance, Carrie and her all-star band Laboratorio collaborate with a wide range of guest artists, ensuring each show is completely unique.

Richard Z. Santos


Santos’ first novel, Trust me, was a finalist for the Writers’ League of Texas Book Awards and was named one of the best debuts of the year by CrimeReads. He currently edits a collection of horror stories for Arte Público Press. He is the executive director of Austin Bat Cave, an organization that provides creative writing workshops to students from underprivileged areas. He is a past board member of the National Book Critics Circle and has judged contests for the Kirkus Prize, the National Education Association, the International Thriller Writers Association, the Texas Book Festival and many others. Recent work can be found in Texas monthlyAWST Press, Kirkus ReviewsCrimeReads and salt hill. In a previous career, he worked for some of the biggest political campaigns, consultancies and unions in the country.

Arati Singh

Austin ISD At-Large Administrator

Arati Singh, deputy head and board secretary, is the first Asian American to serve on the Austin ISD School Board. In this role, Arati changed policies and practices to close achievement gaps, improve special education, keep students safe during the pandemic, and increase staff compensation. Arati is a former fourth-grade bilingual teacher and for the past 20 years has served as a program evaluator for college access and federal STEM grant projects. She is a seasoned attorney at the Texas Capitol and a nationally recognized past president of the PTA. Arati graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and UT-Austin. Arati is a creative problem solver, with eight technology-related patents to her name. She and her husband, Ranjeev, raised an AISD graduate and they have another child who is currently enrolled at AISD. She loves hot sauces from different cultures!

Alissa Ziemianski

Community Engagement Manager, Central Texas Food Bank; President, Austin Coed Soccer Association

When it comes to building community, Alissa is firmly at the intersection of a unique Austin Venn diagram. Driven by her desire to eliminate food insecurity, she manages partnerships and fundraising events for Central Texas’ largest hunger relief organization. An intense love of football motivates her extensive efforts on the pitch, in the stands, as a board member of the Austin Soccer Foundation, as an advisor for Austin Rise FC (a new local women’s pro-am soccer club ) and leading the Best of Adult Outdoor Soccer League “Friendly-but-Feisty” winner from Austin. His love languages ​​create a space where everyone feels welcome and safe to be authentically themselves and share delicious dishes. “The world is big enough for everyone to live boldly, eat well, love and thrive.” Oh yeah, and she absolutely LOVES spices. Engineer: @cavemanhooker

A selection of sauces awaiting judgment (Photo by John Anderson)

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