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National television is one of the best places to showcase your talent, and College of Lake County (CLC) culinary alum Vlad Briantsev will show off his cooking skills on the upcoming season of “Hell’s Kitchen.”
As a teenager, Briantsev fell in love with food. A self-proclaimed “watchaholic” of the Food Network, he enjoyed watching shows during which the chefs explained their process.
It wasn’t long before he started making culinary classes a focus in his education. After taking home economics classes in middle school, he enrolled in dual credit courses at CLC while in high school. This helped with his decision to attend CLC after graduation.
“I saw what CLC had to offer,” he said. “The instructors I had in high school were the same ones I had in college, and I formed great connections with them.”
Everything Briantsev was taught at CLC is what he said he wanted to learn for his career. The hands-on experiences he had, including working for CLC’s student-run Prairie Restaurant, helped prepare him to work in a restaurant before he even graduated.
“Working at Prairie took me over the top and gave me proper muscle memory and experience about what it's like to run a restaurant,” he said. “Serving students and getting feedback gave me the confidence that I knew what I was doing.”
Briantsev’s work ethic and drive to be great was evident to his instructors.
“You can tell by the early stages in the program through when he finished, he was hungry to keep learning every day at the college,” Hospitality and Culinary Management Department Instructor William Vena said. “He always wanted to push the envelope and veer off the recipe, do something different.”
Briantsev graduated from CLC in 2016 and got his first job as a line cook at GT Prime Steakhouse in Chicago. After a few years, and a stop working at Roister, a restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop, he came back to GT Prime with his dream position as a sous chef.
“I was operating at a high level and making amazing food in those kitchens,” Briantsev said. “I had everything I wanted at that point.”
Once the pandemic started, like many in the culinary industry, Briantsev was furloughed. While he was left wondering where his career might take him next, he found a great opportunity as a travel chef with Levy Restaurants, a company that specializes in fine dining at sports stadiums and events.
Briantsev worked events including the U.S. Open, Kentucky Derby and New York Auto Show, giving him opportunities to cook for people from around the country.
“I expanded my horizons and learned a lot about the restaurant industry,” he said.
He continued to experience new opportunities earlier this year when he filmed for the upcoming season of “Hell’s Kitchen.”
Briantsev received a direct message on Instagram for a contestant search. After what he described as a vigorous interviewing process, he was excited to be selected as a participant and showcase to the world what he’s learned during his career.
“I saw a new door open and a new challenge,” he said. “I grew up watching the show, and now I get to cook for legends. Everything worked out perfectly to get to this point, and I couldn’t be any prouder to represent Chicago and CLC.”
Vena said, “The ultimate goal for me is to watch students walk in the program and to watch them bloom and walk across the stage with all this knowledge they've learned and then go out there and be successful. On the show, people are going to notice a very talented young chef who is going to push the envelope and do some stuff out of the box.”
Briantsev is currently working as an executive sous chef at Park View Restaurant at Ravinia in Highland Park.
College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes in 2019 and is a national leader in many areas, including campus internationalization, sustainability and conservation.
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