Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has just crowded a new culinary champion for the first season of his reality cooking series, Next Level Chef. She is none other than Los Angeles-based chef Stephanie “Pyet” DeSpain.
DeSpain, who is a Native and Mexican American, took home the coveted $250,000 grand prize Wednesday night (March 2), which also includes a one-year mentorship from the Next Level Chef judges.
“This journey hasn’t always been easy, but it was worth it,” DeSpain commented on social media Thursday (March 3). “I dedicate this win to indigenous people across the world. I dedicate this win to the people working on themselves for the better of future generations. I dedicate this win to my parents and grandparents that helped raised me, to every friend that helped me when I was down. I dedicate this win to myself.”
During the series finale, DeSpain outlasted her fellow chefs, Mariah Scott from Houston, and Reuel Vincent from Brooklyn, during three rounds of competition, which included preparing an appetizer, fish course, and meat dish.
“What a wild ride!” DeSpain wrote. “[Reuel] and [Mariah], it was [an] honor to cook with you. You both deserve this just as much as I do.”
DeSpain’s winning menu included pork and sweet potato empanadas, seared striped bass with spiced sweet potato purée, and roasted rack of lamb with fingerling potatoes, prosciutto-wrapped green beans, and a red wine reduction.
Originally from Kansas City, Kansas, Pyet’s nickname is a shortened version of her inherited Native American name, Pyetwetmokwe. According to her bio, she spent part of her childhood living on the Osage Indian Reservation and is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Tribe. After living in Kansas City for most of her life, she relocated to L.A. to “promote wellness and nutrition through food.” She also “embraces both her Native American and Mexican heritage equally.”
DeSpain added, “This is more than a cooking competition; this is representing the voices of all that have been silenced. We conquered the table.”