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Local chef in national competition

By Nathan Tsukroff

AUBURN – Amazing food from a celebrity chef is not just on television.

Everyone has heard of the Food Network, where chefs from around the country demonstrate their skills.

And Auburn can now boast of having its very own celebrity chef – Sayvepen Sengsavang, “Chef Sav”, from the Mu Noi Brunch restaurant on the north end of Center Street in Auburn.

Sayvepen Sengsavang, “Chef Sav”, preps an area to roll out dough for bread for one of the sandwiches sold at the Mu Noi Brunch restaurant on Center Street in Auburn. Sav competed in a recent episode of the Food Network’s Supermarket Stakeout. (Tsukroff photo)

Chef Sav competed in a recent edition of  Supermarket Stakeout on the Food Network, with filming in October and  the episode airing the beginning of February.

In the competition, presented by Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, four chefs have to create dishes from groceries they purchase from customers coming out of a nearby supermarket. With a starting budget of $500 each, the final chef wins a prize of $10,000.

Sous-chef (the second chef in command in a kitchen) Molly Hinkel prepares a fried chicken sandwich at the Mu Noi Brunch restaurant on Center Street in Auburn. (Tsukroff photo)

Chef Sav took part in episode 6 of season 3 of the show. Titled “Who’s Hot, Who’s Cold”, the episode saw him competing against chefs Danny Bullock, Tony Biggs and Ayo Cherry.

The first of three rounds saw the chefs creating a Super Spicy meal to be judged by Jeremy McBryde and Brooke Williamson.

Chef Sav survived the first round and went on to create a Family Picnic in the second round. He did not make it to the third round, called Ice Cream Truck. Ayo Cherry was the final winner of the episode.

“It was kind of crazy! It was insane!” Chef Sav said. “You have to run up to people and try to get food to cook with, and you have to meet the challenges that they set” for each round.

As for his restaurant in Auburn, Chef Sav provides what he calls a “modern American” cuisine for his guests. The menu features items such as French Toast, Chicken Fried Stake Sando (sandwich), a vegan Green Curry Peanut Noodle dish, and a pastrami sandwich.

“We’re not known for a specific dish, but we’re known for being over-indulgent,” he said. “We want to make food that people crave. We want to make food that people dream about.”

Megan Cullins creates pastry cream for a French toast dish for guests at the Mu Noi Brunch restaurant on Center Street in Auburn. (Tsukroff photo)   

The restaurant has four tables for guests, socially-distanced, and has a constant stream of guests arriving for takeout orders.

 Sav also runs Le Mu Eats, a food truck in Bethel, which he hopes to “transition to a brick and mortar by this summer.”

As with his restaurant in Auburn, Sav offers a fusion of cuisines at the Bethel location.

He was trained at the Culinary Institute of Virginia.

Born to Laotian immigrants in New York, his family eventually moved to Virginia, where he met his future wife while in high school. He brought some of the styles of food from there to Maine when he moved to Bryan Pond, near Bethel, ME, with his family about five years ago.

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