Alumnus Success Story | Celebrity Chef Tony Nguyen to open restaurant in St. Louis

Posted on 06/22/2022
Nguyen attended Becky-David Elementary, Hollenbeck Middle and graduated from Francis Howell North in 2006.

One of St. Louis’ most exciting chefs and former Francis Howell student Tony Nguyen is coming home to open a new restaurant. Snō, a modern Asian concept restaurant, is slated to open in the historic Tower Grove Heights area this summer. 

While traveling and working with top chefs all over the world, Nguyen said St. Louis will always be home.

“There is something very unique about St. Louis and my family is here but it’s not just that; it’s the Midwest hospitality. Everybody is very friendly. Here you can take the time to relax.”

Nguyen is opening the restaurant with his wife and business partner, Jessica. After updates and renovations, the two transformed the multi-level space completely. 

 “We are still playing with the space. It is two levels. I love the dim sum concept and am excited about the appetizers and tapas. We wanted to do a huge section of modern dim sum,” Nguyen says of his menu that will be built around sustainable seafood, an incredible steak presentation, and a large selection of small plates.

“You can go and spend $25 but try a couple of different flavors. Get a taste of different small plates. We will have craft cocktails as well,” Nguyen said.

While Chef Tony Nguyen’s restaurant is set to open in late summer, he says the planning and dream really began long ago. As a young child, he was interested in what was happening in the kitchen, spending hours watching cooking shows while growing up in St. Charles County. To this day he says the cuisine of his Vietnamese-born mother is the best he has ever tasted. No surprise, then, that he named the restaurant after his mother.

Nguyen attended Becky-David Elementary, Hollenbeck Middle and graduated from Francis Howell North in 2006. 

“High school was critical and crucial for me. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. My home-ec teacher, Becky Crawford, had a huge impact on my career. To this day I look back and think about how that class was a pivotal moment in my life,” said Nguyen. “She believed in me and she was always supportive.”

Nguyen says some of his first memories as a child are related to food and the passion he felt when cooking. 

“It’s so weird because I couldn’t tell you what I had for lunch yesterday, but I can remember bringing a mango to class for show-and-tell as a kindergartener,” Nguyen said, laughing. “Then, at Hollenbeck Middle school, I had my first introduction to food in a school setting. In home-ec class, we made a banana milkshake and I was intrigued.”

By the time he reached high school, he knew that he wanted to turn his passion for food and cooking into a career. He joined DECA, and his marketing and business class allowed him to learn more about the aspects of being an entrepreneur. His class ended up competing at state where his project was to create his own quick-service restaurant. 

Since then, he interned with some of the world’s masters of cuisine and ran some of the most well-known restaurants in Las Vegas, Houston and Beverly Hills. 

Chef Nguyen has been featured on Food Network, Bravo, Food and Wine Magazine, LA Times, EATER, Forbes, Robb Report, LA WEEKLY, and recently named Best Asian Restaurant in Los Angeles by USA TODAY. 

Fast-forward from his days at Francis Howell North, his high-school DECA homework assignment is becoming a reality! Snō is set to open late August.

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