Celebrity Chefs Grace ‘Taste of NSU’

Chef Danielle Saunders

The Norfolk State University Foundation hosted its inaugural signature event, “Taste of NSU,” May 18. The event, which was held in the NSU Student Center, showcased NSU’s performing and visual arts students, as well as inspired cuisine from area restaurants, NSU tourism and hospitality management students and special guests, internationally recognized, Chopped Grand Champion, Chef Danielle Saunders and Chef Tod Wilson, also known as “Mr. Sweet Potato Man.”

Guest Celebrity Chef Danielle Saunders returned to NSU where she began her college education. She performed a cooking demonstration and assisted NSU catering management students in preparing sampling dishes. In 2011, Chef Danielle became the first black woman and first woman ever to win Chopped Champions, the Food Network’s championship chef competition. She has cooked on the Today Show and for the likes of noted celebrities Sean Combs, Mary J. Blige, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Alicia Keys. Chef Tod Wilson, a graduate of Portsmouth’s I.C. Norcom High School, is a 25-year baker and distributor. He launched Mr. Tod’s Pie Factory in 2002, with his signature bite-sized sweet potato pies. He later expanded his company creating two retail outlets and a nationwide mail-order business. Wilson is currently in talks with Portsmouth city officials regarding the sale of the old Mary Jane Bakery plant on High Street. Currently, Mr. Tod’s Pies are sold at select private outlets and restaurants in New Jersey and in Crown/Kennedy Chicken, a fast food chain operating 300 locations in New Jersey, upstate New York and Philadelphia.

Food lovers discovered an array of food presentations intended to delight the senses and the palate. Guests were able to sample cuisine from several Hampton Roads restaurants, NSU’s catering management students from the tourism and hospitality management program and from the celebrity chefs. A portion of the proceeds from the event will support activities in the NSU visual and performing arts — theatre, music and visual arts.

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