Culinary Students Compete Live For $20K At Chase Sapphire Preferred Grill Challenge

For the marquee-name chefs in town for Vegas UnCork'd by Bon Appetit, a live cooking demonstration held onstage in front of 300 discerning foodies is all in a day's work...but for two of Vegas' brightest culinary students, it's the chance of a lifetime. They'll be sous chefs for Todd English and Akira Back, the two renowned chefs facing off during the Chase Sapphire Preferred Grill Challenge, the headline showdown at Saturday's Bellagio Block Party. The students, who are both currently enrolled in Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute, will be competing for major scholarship money — Chase Sapphire Preferred will give $20,000 to the student sous chef from the winning team and the runner-up will receive $5,000.

As most of Las Vegas' tastemakers gear up for a festive, food-filled weekend, students Andrew Merfalen and Todd Huelsman are preparing for a potentially game-changing few hours...taking place at the Bellagio on Saturday at 8 p.m. as part of Vegas Uncork'd. We interviewed both contenders to find out what they're thinking and feeling, heading into the big event.