Ribs for Kids Judges - 2018
Local food aficionado and writer for the Petaluma Argus-Courier (among others), Houston brings years of experience to the panel as a four-time returning Ribs for Kids judge!
"As a certified Kansas City BBQ Society judge, and food writer, I am invited to judge many food and drink events, from chili cook-offs to pizza challenges, to beer competitions, but the Ribs for Kids event is my favorite, by far. Not only does it help a great local cause, but my fellow judges are a genuine pleasure to work with. But best of all, the ribs at this competition are the best I get to judge all year, and that includes judging KCBS competitions, which draw in national competitors. Apparently, Petaluma’s backyard barbecuers know a thing or two about turning out great ribs." Petaluma Argus-Courier, June 18, 2017
We're proud to welcome back returning Ribs for Kids judge Mike Harris! Mike is the Senior Vice President of CrossCheck, Inc., a National Payment Guarantee Company based in Petaluma, and served on the City Council for the City of Petaluma from Jan 2003-Jan 2015. Mike was elected to the City Council in 2002 as one of the youngest Councilmen ever elected in Petaluma, and was re-elected to the City Council as the top vote-getter in both 2006 and 2010. Mike served as the Vice Mayor of Petaluma in 2005 and has served on many boards and commissions during his tenure, including the Transit Advisory Committee for Petaluma (Chairman from 2009-2010), the Technology & Telecommunications Committee (Chairman from 2008-2009), the Petaluma Youth Commission (Chairman 2013) and the Airport Commission to name a few. In 2010, he was honored as one of the top 40 business leaders under 40 years old by the North Bay Business Journal.
Mike currently serves on the Petaluma Educational Foundation Board of Directors and the Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, currently serving the Chamber as Vice President of its board. He also serves on the Friends of the Santa Rosa Junior College Trust (Petaluma Campus) and currently serves as its Chairman. In addition, Mike is the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Petaluma Valley Hospital Foundation. Mike has also served on the Petaluma Historical Library & Museum Board of Directors.
Laurie Figone is an award-winning chef, TV personality, and cookbook author- and is returning for her 2nd year as a Ribs for Kids judge!
Not only is she the 2014 Dessert World Food Champion, she has also won top honors in numerous other cooking competitions. For three years Laurie hosted her own cooking show on Petaluma Community Access TV. Laurie has been featured on the TODAY Show, TNT’s “On The Menu” with Ty Pennington and Emeril Lagasse, and hosted cooking segments on KTVU Fox 2 in Oakland. Laurie has been the featured chef for the last four years at the Sonoma County Fair, performing three daily cooking demonstrations, has been a guest speaker at the California Women for Agriculture Annual Convention, and has been a food columnist for the Sonoma County Farm Bureau for three years.
Nariman is the Co-Founder and Vice President of Operations for Xandex, Inc., a technology and manufacturing company that settled in Petaluma in 1984. Nariman is a supporter of numerous non-profits and is returning for his fourth time as a judge for Ribs for Kids!
Born in Iran and raised in the U.S., Nariman has traveled extensively, but calls Northern California home- appreciating the food, beer, wine, and good life offered in Petaluma.
Ken manages the Development Operations for Social Advocates for Youth, a Sonoma County non-profit. A long time Sonoma County resident, Ken has lived in Petaluma since 2003. An active father of two boys who attend Casa Grande High School, he enjoys riding his bike with his wife and boys around Petaluma, as well as hiking and photography. Some past and current examples of how Ken volunteers his time for youth and family causes are:
- Vice President, Board of Directors – Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition
- Former Chair of Petaluma City Youth Commission
- Former Kenilworth JR High, and current Casa Grande High School Site Council member
- Former Petaluma youth football coach, Petaluma American Little League coach and held several PALL board positions
Chadwick is returning for his third year as a Ribs for Kids judge! A 14-year mortgage professional, handyman, and home-brewer, Chadwick fell in love with Petaluma and settled down here in 2011, serving as President of Active 20-30 Petaluma #30 from 2012-2013, and achieving Past Active Life status. Chadwick lives locally with his wife, two sons, and their three dogs, and is passionate about food, live music, and the Golden State Warriors.
Ana Keller has been at the helm of Keller Estate Winery since 1998. Her focus has been to produce the most desirable wines from the fruit that they grow on their family property, ensuring that future family generations can continue to benefit and contribute toward the land. Ana has been at the forefront of creating the Petaluma Gap AVA (American Viticultural Area). Her commitment to this effort is reflective of her passion and love for Sonoma County and, most importantly, Petaluma. We are pleased to welcome Ana back as a returning judge for her 3rd year in a row!
Dan is the President of the Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce, an avid community volunteer, Rotarian, and amateur BBQ critic- returning for his 3rd time as a judge for Ribs for Kids!
Dan was named to the North Bay Business Journal's Forty Under 40 Class of 2014. Dan and his wife recently took a road trip across the U.S. They made it a point to enjoy the varying style of BBQ as they journeyed through the southern states – particularly enjoying the Memphis BBQ ribs and North Carolina pulled pork. Dan grew up learning in his grandmother's kitchen and enjoys spending time in the kitchen with his wife Megan – she's a phenomenal cook!