With the Fair season in full swing, that also means it’s time to crown the next winners of the 19th Annual Big Tex® Choice Awards. It’s no easy feat to make it to this point, considering there were 57 total entries submitted. These were then whittled down to 36 semi-finalists. Now, it all comes down to the final 10 that will compete live in the final round at this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards event. The esteemed panel of judges must choose which dishes can take home the titles of “Best Taste – Savory,” “Best Taste – Sweet,” and “Most Creative.” The panel of judges comes from a variety of culinary fields, from local celebrities to chefs; each person will have the enviable task of tasting these deep-fried delicacies at the Big Tex Choice Awards event on August 27.
And now the moment that everyone has been looking forward to, the State Fair of Texas is proud to present this year’s judges who will serve as taste-testers for the iconic competition:
Brad Batson — Karbach Brewing Company
Brad Batson, a Dallas resident, is one of the Co-Founders of Karbach Brewing Company. Brad was part of the group that launched Karbach in 2011 and has been a pivotal contributor to its ascension to the second-largest brewery in Texas. Prior to founding Karbach, Brad led a beer import/export company named BELUKUS (Belgium, United Kingdom, United States), where thanks to his hard work and contribution to the Belgian Beer Industry he received the Riddeschap van de Roerstok der Brouwers, the Knighthood of the Brewer’s Mash Staff.
Jazze Radio-Chica — Radio One – Dallas
Jazze is currently the Community Affairs Director and an On-Air personality at Radio One – Dallas! Outside of ‘She Represents’ (a segment highlighting women in the DFW), the Community Calendar program allows Jazze to interview various community leaders regarding informative topics, including education, health, domestic violence, arts, and community events. Jazze is a social media influencer with over 100k Instagram followers, a contributor on NBC 5’s the “Run Down,” a 2021 National Association of Broadcasting Crystal Award winner, Ma’at Award Honoree, and has been featured in various magazines and commercials for her support of community events. Currently, Jazze serves on the board of Young Leadership Professionals for the Dallas United Negro College Fund and serves as the Community Chair for the Dallas Fort Worth Association of Black Journalists.
Mark Followill — Dallas Mavericks
Mark Followill has more than 24 years of experience as a sports announcer. Mark has been the play-by-play announcer for iconic teams, like FC Dallas, for 11 years and for the Dallas Mavericks for 18 years. This Dallas native has quite the award shelf with five Lone Star Emmys for his work and was selected in 2018 as the National Sports Media Association’s Texas Sportscaster of the Year.
Norm Hitzges — Local Radio Legend
Drivers all over North Texas have heard this Texas legend’s voice for more than 50 years. Norm Hitzges recently retired after a successful career in radio. Norm has received almost every possible recognition from the Texas Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the Dallas All Sports Association, and the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame, but he also gives back. He hosts a yearly “Norm-A-Thon” — a day-long broadcast that raises money for the homeless in the DFW area, raising more than $9 million. Norm lives in Little Elm with his beautiful photographer wife, Mary, two dogs named Koko and Hazel, and Apple the vampire cat.
Richard Chamberlain — Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House
Richard Chamberlain created Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House in 1993. His restaurant was given numerous awards, with his specialty of the house, prime steak, getting rave reviews. When he’s not leading award-winning restaurants, he is being honored for his charity involvement. He was awarded the Restaurant Neighbor Award by the National Restaurant Association in 2006. Richard currently serves on the board of the Dallas chapter of the American Heart Association. His favorite things include welcoming guests to his restaurants, volunteer work, travel and spending time with his wife Lisa, daughter Victoria, son Stephen, and grandson Hudson.
Sumera Syed — Baker & Content Creator; @sumerathebaker
If you’re an avid watcher of baking TV shows, you can’t miss Sumera Syed. She has been featured on various programs like Masterchef UK, Holiday Baking Championship, and Bake It ‘Til You Make It. She is a self-taught baker that learned from, of all possible places, Pinterest. Her social media also features a series of baked goods based on a variety of popular fantasy series. Sumera resides in Dallas but grew up in an Indian-Pakistani household in England. When she makes desserts, she likes to use ingredients reminiscent of home: saffron, pistachio, fennel seeds, and the like.
Zach and Theresa (Tee) — Food Content Creators; @zachandtee
PB&J, baseball & hotdogs, Zach & Tee — three pairings that just go great together. Zachary and Theresa are content creators based out of Dallas that enjoy sharing their love for food, basketball, and fitness. The dynamic duo brings fans along their food journeys both locally and across the country to show how to maintain an active lifestyle while eating tasty foods. They have gained an audience of more than 4 million followers across their respective pages.
The 2023 Big Tex Choice Awards will take place on Sunday, August 27. Although this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards event is closed to the public, you can follow the event live on our social media channels – @StateFairofTX. RSVP on the Facebook event page, available at BigTex.com/BTCA, and you’ll receive notifications in real-time as the competition takes place. The 2023 State Fair of Texas opens Friday, September 29, and runs through Sunday, October 22. You can purchase season passes and premium tickets online at BigTex.com/Tickets.