From Glass Blower to Celebrity Chef

From Glass Blower to Celebrity Chef

Former LVA student giving back

Viktor Slavov immigrated to Key West 14 years ago with what he called, at best, only basic English skills.

A glass blower by trade, he found himself in an apartment with several other Czechs before moving in with English speaking roommates.

“When people talk around you, you want to know what they’re talking about,” he chuckled. “Maybe they’re talking about you!”

Slavov began working as a dishwasher before advancing to “burger flipper” and prep cook at a handful of restaurants around Key West. He knew that in order to climb the ranks in the kitchen, he needed to advance his language skills.

“The better English you speak, the more doors are open for you,” he elaborated of his drive.

Chef Viktor Slavov is a former LVA student and current board member. He’ll be showcasing his skills next week for the Celebrity Chef Cook Off at Benihana in Key West.

He discovered Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) and Fred Marcus, who regularly met with Slavov for the next six months. By combing the pages of the New York Times together, Marcus explained to Slavov the “complicated words.”

For the past four years, Slavov has been serving as a chef at the Marriot Beachside Hotel in Key West, and when LVA Executive Director Mary Casanova asked him to join the board of directors, he eagerly obliged.

“I made it to be a chef from nothing,” he noted. “They helped me to get this far, so why wouldn’t I give them something back?”

Slavov not only serves on the board for the organization that gave so much to him, but he’ll also be showcasing his skills next Wednesday, Oct. 12 at the Benihana Celebrity Chef Cook Off benefit for LVA.

Most tables have already filled for the evening’s two seatings at 6 and 8:30 pm, but a few seats still remain in the newly renovated restaurant.

For information about this event or for information on how to volunteer, call 305-294-4352, visit their website at or email


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