Friday, January 16, 2009

Sullivan University grad competes on Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown

Credit: Skirt Magazine
When the Food Network searched the nation for great burger recipes to include in their televised competition—"Ultimate Recipe Showdown"—they couldn’t pass up Sullivan University graduate Brigitte Nguyen’s Vietnamese-flavored specialty. Nguyen competed on the Guy Fieri-hosted show in the fall of 2008, and the results of the competition were aired on Sunday, Jan. 11.

"Being at Food Network, the home of all my favorite shows and television chefs, was unbelievable,” says Nguyen. The studios are gorgeous, the kitchens are pristine, and I was surrounded by a hard-working, fun-loving, gourmet group of foodies! My instructors at Sullivan University always pushed me to work quickly, cleanly and efficiently and these proved to be valuable skills, given the time constraints and the fact that I was cooking on-camera!”

Nguyen, a California native with Vietnamese heritage, took matters into her own hands when she could not find her favorite Vietnamese sandwich in Kentucky. Always ready for a new challenge, Nguyen headed straight into the kitchen and created the ultimate sandwich, combining her love for Asian cuisine with her all-American environment. In 2007, her Vietnamese Five-Spice Pork Burger won the first-runner-up prize at the Sutter Home 17th Annual Build a Better Burger Competition (recipe here). Her Vietnamese Bistro burger got her noticed by Food Network less than a year later.

Nguyen left her first career as a financial statement auditor to follow her passion for the culinary arts. In 2006, she relocated to Lexington, Ky., from Los Angeles and enrolled in Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies. In 2008, she traveled with a group of fellow Sullivan students and chef instructors to Beijing to work with Framboise Catering feeding the U.S. Delegation and athletes at the Olympics before graduating Summa Cum Laude. Nguyen currently does independent catering and bakes pastries for Wine + Market in Lexington.