Rising Star Chef Nick Wong of UB Preserv - Biography

Houston, TX

November 2019

What do you want to be when you grow up? Nick Wong knew the answer to that question from the moment he started cooking in the sixth grade. Though he was eager to jump right into the restaurant business, his parents urged him to pursue a more conventional career path than that of a chef. Finding middle ground, Wong, a Califoronia native, attended the University of California, Berkeley, and studied nutritional science⁠—the most food-related degree available. After graduation in 2007, Wong enrolled at New York’s International Culinary Center and quickly joined David Chang’s Momofuku crew at Ssäm Bar and KO, where he found a mentor in Peter Serpico. He then moved to iconic Gramercy Tavern, adding Michael Anthony as a mentor, before moving to San Francisco to work for Chris Cosentino at Incanto. In 2013, Wong returned to Ssäm Bar as sous chef, becoming chef de cuisine one year later.

In 2017, he embarked on a cross country trip, during which he stopped in Houston to visit Chris Shepherd, who he had met at a dinner in New York. A few weeks later, Shepherd gave Wong a call and invited him to head up his new concept in Houston. At UB Preserv, Wong is cooking his heart out, serving dishes like Vietnamese short rib fajitas and duck egg curry that reflect Houston’s diverse population. The restaurant ranked 8th on Houston Chronicle’s list of the “Top 100 Restaurants” in 2018, rising to 7th in 2019. Food & Wine named UB Preserv’s brunch “the most interesting in America.”