nicole stephens and Chef Stephan Johnson

Chef Stephan Johnson and partner Nicole Stephens

Last year’s most exciting and wildly fun fundraiser — Dancing Under the Atlantic City Stars — was an overwhelming success for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey — Southern Branch. The event sold out in an amount of time unprecedented for this area and was the biggest single-day fundraiser that the FoodBank has ever seen.

It returns this year to Hard Rock Atlantic City on Nov. 2, bringing with it 12 new “celebrity dancers” and their talented professional partners. Each week from now until the week of the event, Atlantic City Weekly will feature one of our dancing couples.

Couple No. 4 is Stephan Johnson and partner Nicole Stephens.

Executive Chef Stephan Johnson, Dock’s Oyster House

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Stephan Johnson spent 20 years as a chef in the Atlantic City casino industry before becoming Executive Chef at Dock’s over 15 years ago. Johnson’s talent, creativity and personality make him a true culinary leader at Dock’s, turning out some of the best soft shells crabs, crab cakes and potato-crusted flounder the world has ever tasted. Johnson also helped at the other Dougherty family restaurants, creating menus and training the staff at Knife & Fork Inn and Harry’s Oyster Bar. Both the Dougherty family and Johnson are passionate about food and dedicated to the community that contributed to their successes. Growing up in the projects with five siblings, Johnson has a deeply personal connection to the Community FoodBank’s mission, saying “It was a struggle sometimes to get a meal on the table, so I can really appreciate helping out and feeding families.”

Nicole Stephens, Professional Dancer

South Jersey native Nicole Stephens has studied a range of dance for over 25 years. A graduate of the Southern New Jersey Academy of Performing Arts, where she majored in dance, she furthered her education at Morgan State University before heading to Stockton University where she was a member of the All-Star dance team and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

Her resume is filled with various performance credits, including: the Atlantic City Card Sharks, Philadelphia KiXX and Philadelphia 76ers dance teams, as well as performances and training from the Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Theatre, Cygnus Performing Arts Academy, and the Performing Arts Theatre of Hammonton. Locally she choreographed many projects including the Miss Atlantic City Pageant and she performed in the Las Vegas show “Voices” at Tropicana, and in Maxine Nightengale’s “Disco Lady” at Resorts.

Nicole is a recurring dancer in the production “Elvis — The King in Concert” at Casino Rama in Canada, as well as in “The Burlesque Show” at Borgata for seven years. Most recently she was in the Motown-inspired production hit “Motor City Live” at Hard Rock in A.C. and MGM Casino in National Harbor, and she just began her journey with the Atlantic City Blackjacks AFL team as head coach and choreographer of the Diamonds Dance Team. Lastly, Nicole has been a dance instructor, choreographer and competition team director at Paul Morris DanceXplosion in Hammonton since 2003.

Tables for the 2019 Dancing Under the Atlantic City Stars are sold as tables of 10 and start at $2,500. No individual tickets are currently on sale.

However, you can start voting for your favorite dancing couple now for $10 per vote.

Go to for more info on voting, tickets, our dancers’ bios, and rehearsal videos.

For more information on the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, as well as volunteer opportunities, go to or call 609-383-8843.