Preston Nguyen outcooked celebrity chefs at the fall World Food Championships in Dallas.
Contact: Cherie Yurco;
For immediate release — April 27, 2022
(DALLAS) — This week, the Nguyen family will pack their car and head to Columbia, S.C., where Preston Nguyen, 19, will try to out-cook nine other chefs for a $100,000 prize. The
Dallas College Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality program student secured a spot at the World Food Championships (WFC)
Final Table challenge after winning the chef category at the 2021 WFC competition in Dallas.
“This upcoming Final Table competition is a Cinderella story come true,” said Nguyen. “I have always had a passion for food and had planned on working hard and walking down the culinary path. With the win in November and the support of Dallas College, so many doors have opened.”
Nguyen, who also took home WFC Rookie of the Year, outcooked celebrity chefs and longtime industry veterans at the fall competition. The runner-up was none other than Fairmont Hotel executive chef Jean-Francois Fortin.
“This whole experience has been incredible,” said Nguyen. “I have to remind myself that last year I was a high school student with an interest in food, and now less than a year later, I am the 2021 WFC Chef champion. So many people support and believe in me, and that is truly humbling. Now it’s time to show the world the best that we have, and hopefully that will be what it takes to bring the title home.”
Preston Nguyen (center) gets to share the excitement of the World Food Championships with his parents (and sous chefs), Peter and Emma.
Preston’s parents, Peter and Emma, who met at Dallas College El Centro’s culinary school, serve as his sous chefs for the competitions. Peter, a lawyer, returned to culinary school with his son. While the family signed up for the November WFC event just for the experience, this time they feel added pressure to perform. The past few weeks have seen them fervently researching and testing ingredients and recipes in their Arlington home.
Preston is competing against the other WFC category winners — most of whom have been cooking longer than Preston has been alive, but none trained through Dallas College’s Culinary, Pastry and Hospitality program. “Dallas College’s unique approach to career-connected learning combines outstanding instruction by a professional and dedicated faculty, accredited curriculum embedded with industry certifications and credentials, and an intentional focus on student and industry engagement to create meaningful outcomes for our students so they can climb the varied professional career ladders in the greater hospitality industry,” said Steve DeShazo, senior director of Workforce and Career-Connected Learning at Dallas College. “While Preston‘s story is extraordinary, he is one of many talented and capable chefs and hospitality professionals who have come through this program during its over 50-year history.”
Final Table’s first challenge, to be held April 30, will have the 10 chefs creating a dish that features biscuits, grits and peaches. Then, the five top-scoring chefs will advance to a “catch and cook” fish challenge. So, preparation has also included fishing lessons from a family friend. The top three catch and cook scorers will advance to the final round, where they will create a new menu item for the McCutchen House (the competition venue) to compete for the $100,000 prize.
“To prepare for this contest, we have read dozens of southern low-country cookbooks and watched at least 100 related cooking shows. I am working 60 hours a week at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, and my dad has been working 25 hours a week at a restaurant in Dallas, to gain experience. My mom has made hundreds of biscuits in search of the best technique.”
During his studies at Dallas College, Preston also worked part time at Prince Lebanese Grill, a popular Mediterranean restaurant in Arlington.
If he wins, Preston said he would use some of the money to further his “culinary learning adventure.” “I hope to spend some time studying in Europe and perhaps around the country,” he said. Anything left over would be used toward opening his own restaurant one day.
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