2020 Judges

The judges for the 2019 Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off are:

  • Debby Benaim
  • David Feder
  • Dotty Griffith
  • Danny Hall
  • Jordana Kohn
  • Michael Mrugala

Debby Benaim

Chef Deborah Benaim was born in Caracas, Venezuela but her background is from Spain, Morocco, and Israel. Chef Benaim’s food is as eclectic as her heritage, and together with her culinary training she has developed a unique cooking style.

Chef Benaim received a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management from the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. Upon graduation she landed a job at Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant Spago in Beverly Hills. She has since then worked in many acclaimed kitchens and now owns her own catering and events company.

Chef Benaim has made several appearances on top cooking competitions including the hit primetime NBC show Food Fighters. Her cooking style can be best described as global cuisine.

Due to her extensive travels and family background, she has refined the craft of fusing different cuisines and flavors.  A notable example of this was at SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas where she debuted the first ever Kosher Latin food truck showcasing Venezuelan cuisine with Middle Eastern influence.

Chef Benaim is now working on several different projects including a cookbook that explores her rich family history.

David Feder

David Feder and his family have been a part of Tiferet Israel for almost 60 years. David has been involved in the food business in one form or another for more than 40 years. He is currently Executive Editor–Technical for Prepared Foods magazine (http://www.preparedfoods.com).

A former noted chef in Dallas and Austin, he has written for the Dallas Morning News and the late lamented Dallas Times Herald. He taught Food Science and Nutrition at UT Austin before becoming a full-time journalist.

David had worked for a number of magazines, including Better Homes and Gardens, LightStyle, and First. He is the author of The Skinny Carbs Diet Book (Rodale Press, 2010).

Fool that he is, in 1995 David moved to the cold, dark, humorless Midwest, living outside of Chicago with his wife, their 2-year-old son, plus a pair of spoiled dogs (a wiener and a pug). He freezes his tuchas off every year waiting for the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off to begin.

You can read his 2012 write up of the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off at https://www.preparedfoods.com/blogs/17-our-viewpoints/post/111118-a-bowl-of-red–hold-the-bagel.

Dotty Griffith

Dotty Griffith teaches culinary journalism at The University of North Texas and is Food Editor of Katy Trail Weekly.  She is an award-winning journalist, best-selling cookbook author and television-radio personality.

A former Food Editor and Restaurant Critic of The Dallas Morning News, Dotty has written 12 cookbooks including the recently released The Ultimate Tortilla Press Cookbook.

Danny Hall

Danny Hall is the executive chef for the Embassy Suites Hotel in Frisco, TX.

Believe it or not, Chef Hall started out washing dishes about 25 years ago while in his teens in an Italian restaurant and soon found a passion for the kitchen that influences everything he does.

Upon arriving at the Adams Mark hotel as the restaurant chef he quickly fell in love with his wife Adriana. At the age of 28 their love grew into three children.

He is creative, committed to his art and has a real passion for fine food and people. He specializes in Italian, French and Thai cooking, plus the Art of Cuisine.

He received training from Ernst Gruch Certified Master Chef, Uwe Rudnick Executive Chef, Jim Anile Executive Chef and Michael Braun Executive Chef. They gave him a love for food that will never fade.

Jordana Kohn

Jordona Kohn attended Queens College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Education. She attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu of Dallas, earning the honor of valedictorian and graduating with a bachelor degree in Culinary Arts and Hospitality.

Jordona had been working in the food industry for the last 13 years, but she has been exposed to food preparation all her life. Her Great Grandfather, Grandfather, and Father were all kosher butchers and her father was a restaurant owner for a time.

Jordona has worked in the food world in Miami, New York, Baltimore, Jerusalem, and now Dallas. Jordona started gaining traction in the Dallas kosher scene as the executive chef at A Taste of the World Catering. But Jordona’s goal was always to start her own restaurant.

She opened The Market Local Comfort Cafe. She and partner Stacey Clark have worked tirelessly to provide the community with a unique take on a casual café, that happens to be kosher. They have been open for six months and, please g-d, will continue to impress for years to come.

Jordona lives with her amazing husband Justin and her three beautiful children, Arianna, Gaby, and Ezra. You can follow Chef Jordona on Instagram and along with The Market journey at Facebook @ChefJordona and the @themarkettx

  • Michael Mrugala
  • Chef Michael has been in the industry for over 43 years.

    He is currently the Culinary Instructor at Tarrant County College.

    He is a member of the Culinary Advisory Board at Tarrant County College, and he is the Membership Chairman and on the Board of Directors for the Dallas Chapter of the Texas Chefs Association.