Meet the People Behind the Flavors

Dedication to quality & decades of industry experience.

Judson C. McLester

Executive Chef & Ingredients Sales Manager

Judson C. McLester came to McIlhenny Company in 2010 as its new Executive Chef and Manager of Ingredients Sales. He is a 1986 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY.

Chef McLester had nearly 20 years in the restaurant industry before transitioning to food product development where he shared his culinary training with food technologists to help bridge the gap between food science and culinary. He is a member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), the American Culinary Federation (AFC), and a founding member of the Research Chefs Association (RCA).

He has worked with flavors, marinades and rubs, salad dressings, soups, sauces and value-added seasoning blends for both foodservice and consumer packaged goods markets.

Troy J. Romero

Vice President of Operations

Troy came to work for McIlhenny Company in 1999 as Plant Manager. He worked for Frito Lay Inc., for 10 years in packaging, processing, distribution, logistics and national initiatives on cost reduction. Troy was certified as a national continuous improvement trainer with Frito Lay and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University. Troy has played a vital role in providing leadership for the factory and improving our efficiency.

Charlie Cheng

Senior Manager, Research & Development

Charlie holds a Master of Science degree in Food Science and Technology and has been with McIlhenny Company since 1978. As R&D Manager, he has in-depth experience in processing, quality control and food chemistry. Charlie is the creator of the formula for TABASCO® brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce.

Hernan Cobo

Quality Assurance Manager

Hernan Cobo is responsible for managing all QA/QC and HACCP programs at McIlhenny Company. Prior to his current position, Hernan gained several years of pepper sauce manufacturing experience at Peppers Unlimited, located in St. Martinville. Hernan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador, and a Master’s degree in Food Science from Mississippi State University.

Leslie DeRise Hall

Quality Assurance Industrial Specialist

Leslie has been the Quality Assurance Industrial Specialist with McIlhenny Company since 1999. Her major duties include lab analysis of all TABASCO® brand Industrial Ingredients including heat analysis on the HPLC; providing Certificates of Analysis for all industrial products; fielding and follow-through on requests for samples; and providing all technical support and correspondence. Leslie holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and is a member of the American Spice Trade Association and Institute of Food Technologists.

Linda Bonnett

Quality Assurance Product Specialist

Linda Bonnett has been with McIlhenny Company since 1985, and her areas of responsibilities are extensive, including daily calibrations of laboratory equipment, pepper mash inspection and testing, TABASCO® brand Original Red Sauce and Family of Flavors® pepper sauce analysis, product specifications, nutritional analysis, GMP inspections, and HACCP, HPLC (pungency). In addition to completing a Food Science & Technology course with the American Institute of Baking, a Sanitation and GMP compliance course with the Institute of Food Technologists (of which she is a member) and Food Science, Nutrition, Management and Agri-business courses, Linda holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Sciences from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Debbie Bernard

Ingredient/Direct Specialty Entry Specialist

Debbie was with Trappey’s Fine Foods for 16 years prior to her employment at McIlhenny Company. Debbie’s main responsibility is customer service and order entry for the Ingredients Division and direct specialty sales. Her experience includes inventory control in public warehouses, sales, transportation and working in credit departments.

Tanna Dooley

Ingredient/Direct Specialty Entry Specialist

Tanna was raised on Avery Island and has been with McIlhenny Company since 1987. Her main responsibility at McIlhenny Company is customer service and order entry for the Ingredients Division and direct specialty sales. She has also worked in direct specialty sales as well as with brokers, in the credit department, in public warehouses, and in shipping and customer service.