James Beard Foundation Thanksgiving Holiday Table Winner: Lena Le
Lena Le found her way to food in a roundabout way. She spent her high school and college years in the United Kingdom before returning to Vietnam to help with the family business of importing and exporting scrap metal. She followed her parents' wishes and began a career in math and business before turning her attention to teaching English (after obtaining two qualified teaching certificates from Cambridge University and American Institutes).
She spent five years teaching English and cultures to all ages and opened her own English Center. "There, we did not just learn and share the language," she said, "but also we did a lot of social work and charity events to raise funds for orphanages and abused women and children." Her happiest times would be when, after hours, she would cook for herself.
Le relocated to the United States to be with her husband and continued to teach English online and through YouTube. She plans to continue teaching, hoping to have her own cooking show where she can teach viewers about Vietnamese Cuisine, how it evolved over time and how it is influenced by other cuisines and hoping to one day have her own restaurant.
"First and foremost, it is going to be a huge honor for me to cook for James Beard Foundation, so the experience is unspeakable," said Le. "I hope to expand my networking with fellow students as well as chefs and/or James Beard Foundation's members."
For more information about the event, please visit our James Beard Foundation Thanksgiving Holiday Table page.Lena Le
Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts
The Art Institute of Houston
Baking & Pastry
Use your talent and passion to turn desserts into works of art. You’ll explore everything from plating to preparing confections to managing a commercial kitchen.
Starting with fundamentals like kitchen tools and culinary techniques, you’ll explore more than 20 of the most popular international flavors and techniques.
Prepare to run both the kitchen and the front of the house, using your passion for food and your head for business to create a memorable dining experience.
Hospitality Food & Beverage Management
You can learn your way around both the front and back of the house while you prepare for the challenge of bringing something new to the table for demanding consumers.
Meet our Faculty
Patrick Brunelli-GuerraCulinary Arts
"Never say that something is impossible. See every challenge as a new opportunity for you to grow even more."Read More
International equivalency of a bachelor's degree, Culinary Arts, evaluated by Career Consulting International
B.S., Culinary Management, The Art Institute of Houston
More than 25 years' culinary experience and classical European training, including: Executive Chef, Marriott Hotels; Executive Sous Chef, Intercontinental Hotel Houston; Executive Chef, Trattoria Grappolo; Sous Chef, Sonnenalp Resort; Sous Chef, Restaurant le Beaujolais. Chef Guerra has competed and won 9 silver and bronze medals in ACF culinary competitions (2005 - 2013); Les Chaines des Rotisseurs Hospitality Award (2003); Swiss Culinary Cup, Lucerne (2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996); multiple international culinary competitions in Canada, Switzerland and Italy, including Swiss Cook of the Year 1994 and Best Apprentice of Switzerland for 1993. He is a Certified Executive Chef with The American Culinary Federation.Read More...
Zack ZwickyGraphic & Web Design
"Work hard—and do it for yourself."Read More
M.F.A., Studio Art - Graphic Communications, University of Houston
B.S., Graphic Design, The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
A.A.S., Visual Communications, The Art Institute of Houston
Professional and academic experience includes: Faculty Member, The Art Institute of Houston, University of Houston, Rice University School of Continuing Studies; Design Studio Director, The Art Institute of Houston; Graphic Designer and Pre-Press Manager, Midtown Graphics & Press; Owner / Designer, couchpotatographics; Graphic Designer, Tomorrow's Key. Exhibitions include: A Digital Cabinet of Curiosities video installation, Blaffer Gallery, 2009; Existential Motion & Mutual Migration video installation, Box 13 Gallery, 2008; Distraction installation, Commerce Street Artist Warehouse, 2007.Read More...
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