Jimmy Don Holmes
Jimmy Don Holmes is a born-and-raised Texan with deep roots in the great state of Mississippi. His great-grandfather moved his family from his native Mississippi to Dolorosa and then to Crawford in search of good farming land. Jimmy Don now lives on that land with his wife, Lori, and their 4 kids. An avid hunter and champion calf roper ,he boasts a Texas-sized appetite and has eaten more chili than some men twice his size. Currently the metal working magician on HGTV’s most popular show in history, Fixer Upper; he takes Joanna Gaines’s sign ideas and makes them into solid steel realities. Stars Over Texas, a custom metal sign company, has become so popular through her store, Magnolia Market, that he no longer takes on custom orders.
Ben Napier is owner of Scotsman Co., a woodshop where he makes simple, history-inspired fine furniture from reclaimed wood. Co-owner of Lucky Luxe Heirloom Design with his wife, Erin, together they host the new HGTV pilot Home Town where they help restore historic houses in their hometown of Laurel. Ben graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Mississippi in 2007. He appears every year as Laurel Main Street’s Loblolly Festival Lumberjack and says he knows chili like his mama knows cooking.
Jeff Good is the President of Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group, parent of three uniquely successful Jackson, Miss. restaurants: BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar, Broad Street Baking Co., and Sal & Mookie’s. Moving from Salt Lake City, Utah in 1980, Jeff attended Murrah High School and graduated from Millsaps College with a degree in Business Administration. He is past president of both the Jackson Restaurant Association and the Mississippi Restaurant Association and, through Soul City Hospitality, he has an ongoing mission to develop Mississippi’s local food economy.
Jay Cherski was born and raised somewhere in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. While attending college in Texas, Jay visited the historic town of Terlingua and experienced his first Chili Cook-off. Jay has been a chili cook-off fan ever since, judging several and frequently competing. He has eaten chili in the jungles of Guatemala, the frozen wastelands of Siberia, and even New York City. He is currently a medical management software consultant for Jefferson Medical Associates in Laurel.
Whitney Pickering’s career began in the test kitchens of Southern Living, spans 20 years with its parent company and includes over 20 cookbook titles as a foods editor, most notably Bounty of Biltmore, a collaboration with the chefs of The Biltmore Estate, and being named National Vice President for Southern Living at HOME. In 2007, the Mississippi Business Journal recognized her as one of Mississippi’s Top 50 Business Women. The next year she was named one of Mississippi’s Top 40 Under 40. She is currently a grant writer for the City of Laurel and an active board member of Laurel Main Street.
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