Arkansas chef wins Food Network competition

The Vito and Vera owner made it to the finale of the six-part cooking competition series that aired Tuesday and won the quarter million investment.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Editor’s Note: The video shown above is from December 2021.

Little Rock chef Alicia Watson is the 2022 winner of Food Network’s “Big Restaurant Bet.”

Food Network star, acclaimed chef, and restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian looked to invest $250,000 of his resources for the next rising star in the restaurant world and he’s found the one.

Watson is the owner of Vito and Vera, a culinary wellness business that strives to meet people wherever they are on the plant based continuum.

The Vito and Vera owner made it to the finale of the six-part cooking competition series that aired Tuesday, May 10 and won the quarter million investment.

With six, one-hour episodes, the show premiered Tuesday, April 5, following eight talented chefs, given with the opportunity to take the next step in their culinary career. They faced challenges to determine who has what it takes to run their first restaurant.

After Watson was announced the winner, she took to Twitter to express her excitement on the accomplishment.

“Overwhelmed with love over here. I can’t believe I won #BigRestaurantBet. I’m humbled that I was able to rep my grandparents, my vision, and be an advocate for all the #plantbased folks out there. Thank you for everyone that supported me along the way.”

Watson’s culinary career was catalyzed by her grandparents’ love of food, which is why they are the namesake of her business- Vito and Vera Damiani. Both immigrants to this county, food was a way to bring family and friends together to build memories.

She sources locally, eats seasonally, and uses all of her items with little to no waste.

Her fascination with culinary wellness and the belief that “Food is Medicine” is perfectly complemented by her 20 years as an occupational therapist.

In 2019 she returned to culinary school with a focus on plant-based cuisine.

Outside of the business, Chef Alicia remains passionate and deeply rooted in protecting the environment, reducing the business’s carbon footprint, and honoring women as leaders in and out of the kitchen.

Her passion for delivering vibrant flavor profiles is only overshadowed by the hope to change people’s plates to change their lives, according to a press release.

You can watch Watson win on “Big Restaurant Bet” on Discovery+.

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