Lincoln restaurant owner in international cooking competition

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – A Lincoln restaurant owner is a finalist in Bon Appetit’s “Favorite Chef” cooking competition, competing with chefs from around the world. The winner will be featured in the magazine and receive $20,000, but it’s what he wants to do with that money that’s making all the difference.

It wasn’t culinary school that taught Pepe Fierro, owner of Pepe’s Bistro, how to chef things up, it was his passion to connect with others using food.

Out of the 13 years he’s owned his vegan and vegetarian Mexican restaurant, he never thought he’d have a chance to win a competition like this. Well, the time is now here, and he’s asking for Lincolnites’ help to win.

If Pepe walks away as the winner with the $20,000, he wants to build an earth-ship restaurant, which would sustain itself by sourcing its own power and resourcing its own water.

It would be open for all of the Lincoln community to come and learn how to grow fresh produce and how to cook. Pepe also wants it to be a place where at-risk youth and those recovering from addiction would find new opportunities.

“Go to the community, become a part of the community, see what needs to be done and do it. Instead of going in to change it, by becoming part of the community, it’ll change you. I’m just doing my part,” Pepe Fierro tells 10/11.

Pepe says he was encouraged by a friend to enter the competition, saw he got into the top 15 and says he became a bit nervous about competing with his Chile Relleno, a vegetarian stuffed pepper dish, going up against other international dishes.

He says he knows the support Lincolnites give to their community and says it blows him away every time. That’s what he hopes will happen in order for him to win this competition.

“They appreciate that I source locally. They appreciate that ‘keep it small.’ They appreciate that I’m doing my part in the community and, that’s their way of doing their part also. It’ll be one step closer to my dream of having the ‘Healing Center’ in southside Lincoln,” Pepe said.

The competition Pepe’s in is also raising funds for Feed America.

You have until February 25, 2021 to vote for Pepe in the first round of the competition. You can vote every day, and it’s free to vote through Facebook. CLICK HERE to vote.

Pepe tells 10/11 if he wins “Favorite Chef,” it wouldn’t be all for himself but rather a victory for the entire Capital City.

Copyright 2021 KOLN. All rights reserved.

Rebecca R. Ammons

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