Geovanny and Neena Villagran

Chef Geovanny Villagran, owner of the food truck La Casa De Mi Abuelita Maw Maw’s House, won the 2021 “Diamond Chef: On Demand” Arkansas cooking competition last night. The winning dish: Salmon Ceviche with roasted poblano pepper dip and caramelized baby turnips.

It’s the 13th year of the competition — which is put on by the UA Pulaski Technical College foundation — and the first time its been a virtual event. Originally scheduled for April of 2020, Diamond Chef was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and then postponed again in October.


A native of Mexico, Villagran operated a food truck in Mexico City before moving to the U.S. He’s been in the industry here for about seven years with stints at the Capital Hotel, Little Rock Marriott and DoubleTree Hotel. Villagran’s wife, Neena, his operating partner of La Casa De Mi Abuelita Maw Maw’s House, served as his sous chef in the competition.

The chefs that competed in the competition this year include the 2019 Diamond Chef winner Jordan Davis (Chenal Country Club), Bonner Cameron (Allsopp & Chapple), Matias De Matthaeis (The Alotian Club), Joseph Salguiero (Pleasant Valley Country Club) and chef Brian Townley, formerly of The Vault at 723.