The Judges

(Click images to learn more)

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Reina Cruz

 

Chef Marlee Belmonte

Marlee Belmonte is a professional chef with 10+ years of experience in the Bay Area’s culinary scene where she has perfected the art of cooking in private, restaurant, and tech kitchens. She is also a sought-after expert in designing safe, equitable work cultures. Marlee made her national television debut on The Food Network's Chopped in 2019. As of 2021, Marlee has co-founded the emerging grocer, Marcellus Foods, as VP of Culinary. Marcellus Foods, opening in Salt Lake City, UT, in late 2022, eliminates most of the time and effort of cooking from scratch by selling prepped ingredients that are one step away from becoming great meals. Visit www.marcellusfoods.com to learn more about Marcellus Foods and its mission to make it easy for everyone to eat well at home.

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Anne Gelhaus

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Anne Gelhaus is editor of Silicon Valley Community Newspapers, a group of weeklies that covers the communities served by West Valley Community Services, among others. A longtime community journalist, Anne has covered the arts and education extensively, with occasional forays into wine and business coverage. She has served on the board of Poetry Center San Jose and has volunteered for numerous local animal rescue organizations. Anne is a borderline foodie and an adventurous eater, who of late was disappointed to discover that fried crickets are flavorless, if crunchy. 

 

Reina Cruz

Reina migrated to California in 2004 from El Salvador and has been working for Chateau Cupertino for the past 16 years. She has always loved working with people, but had no intentions of being involved with food. Food was Reina's destiny, as her mother owned a restaurant in El Salvador and her sister was a culinary chef.

 

Reina helped her mother run the restaurant and it was easy for her to look for a job in the food industry, once in California. Reina worked her way up at Chateau Cupertino. She started filling in for the cook, baker, servers and soon became the lead cook. With the help and support of the manager before her, she came to take her place and run the Dining Services Department. Reina loves food as it is not only her career, but it’s part of her.  

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