Stephanie “Pyet” Despain: Where is Next Level Chef Season 1 Winner Now?

Season 1 of Fox’s ‘Next Level Chef’ premiered in January 2022 and introduced several contestants buzzing with excitement to prove their mettle on a spectacular multi-level cooking set. They were divided into three teams of five under chefs Gordon Ramsay, Nyesha Arrington, and Richard Blais, who served as their mentors and judges. On team Arrington, Stephanie “Pyet” Despain, an unassuming woman of Native American descent, beat all odds to sweep the victory. Having heard her remarkable story and watched her thrilling journey, fans may find themselves asking what Stephanie has been up to since her historic win.

Stephanie “Pyet” Despain Stayed Calm and Let her Skill do the Talking

From the beginning of the competition, Stephanie strove to keep a cool head and clearly pick out everything she needed in her dishes. Her temperament allowed her to perform well in the initial stages, while her unique cooking of Native American and Mexican fusion carried her through to the finals. Having always been a spiritual person, Stephanie connected with herself and remained focused in the final round. Up against professional chefs Mariah Scott and Reuel Vincent, Stephanie stuck to her strengths and emerged victorious in a heated cook-off finale. Her winning declaration became an emotional moment as she bagged $250,000 and a one-year mentorship under all three mentors.

Stephanie “Pyet” Despain is Actively Promoting her Heritage Through Food

Since Stephanie “Pyet” Despain’s victory in the first season of ‘Next Level Chef,’ she has continued to create Indigenous Fusion Cuisine, combining her Native American and Mexican American heritage. She has done this through private events, taught in online classes, appeared on various shows, and even been invited as a speaker for prestigious organizations and forums. Soon after her victory, Stephanie vacationed in Hawaii and continues to travel with her boyfriend. She spoke at UNITY, a Native youth-serving organization. In October 2022, she visited Gordon Ramsay and cooked at his restaurant Lucky Cat in London.

Stephanie continues to do pop-up kitchens, especially oriented toward Native American cuisine, while collaborating with other professional chefs. She supports the Indigenous Enterprise, a Native American performing and apparel company. She appeared and cooked on the Rachael Ray Show with mentor Richard Blais. When the season 2 finale of Next Level Chef was filmed, Stephanie showed up as a guest and encouraged the finalists, prompting them to give it their all.

Talking of shows, Stephanie competed on Food Network’s 2024 season of Tournament of Champions, putting up a good performance and stalling to get past the qualifiers. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Every miss is an opportunity to come back stronger,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “I’ll be waiting for my call back!” She became one of The National Center’s 2024 40 Under 40 awardees as she empowered Native American communities, preserved traditional foodways, and inspired future generations. Despain was a pick on Food Network’s ‘Hot List’ 2024 and appeared on an episode for Native American Heritage Month, making mouthwatering venison fry bread tacos.

Stephanie also appeared on an episode of Tastemade’s ‘Deliciously Entertaining’ with chef Danni Rose. She had a reunion with Gordon Ramsay on episode 6 of the ‘Food Stars’ show. She proudly gave a guest lecture at the Barton School of Business, sharing her story and life experiences. The institution named her an Entrepreneur in Residence. In May 2024, Stephanie was invited as a speaker for TEDxUCIrvine to tell her story and reflect on her journey. Those wishing to learn directly from her can sign up for her occasionally held virtual cooking classes.

Read More: Next Level Chef Season 2: Where Are The Contestants Now?