SOURCE: Brandt Beef

August 29, 2007 17:44 ET

Culinary Leaders Band Together to Raise Funds for Aspiring Chef

Proceeds From a Five-Star Meal, Prepared by Some of California's Top Chefs, Will Help Pay Tuition Costs for Promising Culinary Student

BRAWLEY, CA--(Marketwire - August 29, 2007) - Starting a career is a daunting challenge for many. For some it's about finding inspiration which leads to passion. For others it's about overcoming the cost of education or getting an opportunity to show an employer they have what it takes. For aspiring chef Brandon Rodgers, his journey, at one time or another, has been about all three.

At the age of 21, Rodgers' culinary accomplishments are quite impressive, having worked in the kitchens of some of California's top chefs. Most recently, Rodgers was selected by Gavin Kaysen, chef de cuisine of El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, to be Kaysen's assistant for the prestigious Bocuse d'Or World Cuisine Contest held in Lyon, France. Rodgers trained under Kaysen, who was selected to represent the United States in the competition which showcases the extraordinary techniques, magnificent creations and culinary achievements of the world's leading chefs.

Following the Bocuse d'Or, Rodgers' desire to become a renowned chef in his own right motivated him to apply to the New England Culinary Institute in Montpellier, Vermont. As part of his application process, Rodgers submitted letters of recommendation from his former employers, including Kaysen, who is an alumnus of the culinary institute. Rodgers was accepted to the school and began taking classes in March. To support Rodgers as he pursues a formal education, several of his former employers, family and friends have banded together to create a fundraiser, the proceeds of which will help pay for Rodgers' tuition.

The Brandon Rodgers Benefit will be held on September 30, 2007 at Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, California. The event will feature a five-star, multi-course meal to be prepared by several prominent chefs who have guided and inspired Rodgers throughout his career, including:

--  Tony DiSalvo, Executive Chef of Jack's La Jolla
--  Marco Ferraro, Chef de Cuisine of Jack's La Jolla
--  Gavin Kaysen, Chef de Cuisine of El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo
--  Tom McAliney, Executive Chef of Brandt Beef
--  Robert Reilly, Executive Sous Chef of Cache Creek Casino Resort

Additionally, Rodgers will prepare the main course of the meal using products donated from Brandt Beef, a family owned, premium natural beef producer that is passionate about producing the most consistent, highest quality, 100 percent source verified natural beef on the market.

"We are very excited to be a part of this event," said Eric Brandt, Managing Partner of Brandt Beef. "At Brandt Beef, we are committed to giving back to the culinary arts, as we support a multitude of groups such as Slow Food, The American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF), the Master Chefs Association, local charities and community groups. Encouraging students to enter this challenging field is yet another way we continue to give back and support the future of our industry."

"I feel very lucky to have such a generous group of supporters who have so graciously volunteered their time and resources to make this event a reality," said Brandon Rodgers. "I'm grateful for the support I've received to pursue my education and career. This event is sure to be an evening filled with exceptional food and fun."

The fundraiser will begin with a welcome and wine reception at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. A silent auction will be held during the cocktail hour with winning bidders announced following the dinner portion of the evening. Commemorative t-shirts will also be available for purchase at the event.

For more information on the benefit, to RSVP or to make a donation, please contact Sara DeNio at 312.780.7223 or, or contact Jennifer Jameson at 312.780.7241 or Tickets for the event are $150 and all proceeds will help pay for Rodgers' tuition.

About Brandon Rodgers

Born and raised in San Andreas, California and a 2003 graduate of Calaveras High School, Rodgers first found inspiration for the culinary arts in a home economics class. That spark was later reinforced when Rodgers went to work in the kitchen as a dishwasher at the Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel located in Jackson, California. With some perseverance, Rodgers eventually moved up and acquired the cooking skills necessary to land a position at the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, where he benefited from the experience of working in the property's five restaurants.

In 2005, Rodgers took his experience to San Diego where he worked as a lead line cook at Jack's La Jolla under the direction of Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo. DiSalvo later recommended Rodgers to Chef Gavin Kaysen for consideration as an assistant for the Bocuse d'Or competition. Rodgers began working at Kaysen's El Bizcocho in March 2006 where he served as a cook and oversaw the sauté stations for the restaurant. Rodgers later accompanied Kaysen to Lyon, France in January 2007 to assist Kaysen as he competed as the U.S. representative in the world finals of the Bocuse d'Or.

About the Chefs

--  Tony DiSalvo is the executive chef and partner of Jack's La Jolla.
    Prior to opening Jack's in 2004, DiSalvo served as executive chef of Jeans-
    Georges in New York's Trump Tower.
--  Marco Ferraro is the chef de cuisine of Jack's La Jolla.
--  Gavin Kaysen is the chef de cuisine of El Bizcocho at the Rancho
    Bernardo Inn in San Diego. He was recently named one of Food & Wine
    magazine's Best New Chefs, and competed as the U.S. representative at the
    Bocuse d'Or World Cuisine Contest in Lyon, France.
--  Tom McAliney is the executive chef of Brandt Beef. He has extensive
    experience working as a corporate executive chef for special events and has
    hosted such events as the Grammy Awards, the Elton John AIDS Foundation
    Awards, and Hollywood movie premiers.
--  Robert Reilly is the executive sous chef of Cache Creek Casino Resort
    in Brooks, California. Prior to joining Cache Creek in 2005, Reilly served
    as executive sous chef at the Thunder Valley Casino where he was
    responsible for opening each of the casino's five restaurants.

About Brandt Beef

Brandt Beef - The True Natural is a family owned premium natural beef producer for the up-scale restaurant and retail markets. The Brandt family is passionate about producing the most consistent, highest quality, 100 percent source verified natural beef on the market. Through cattle selection, natural feeding practices and humane treatment of animals, Brandt Beef produces a product that is unparalleled in taste, tenderness and consistency. Brandt Beef received the Master Chefs' Institute Seal of Excellence in 2006 for its achievement in obtaining the Master Chef's Institute standard of quality. To obtain more information or to purchase various cuts of Brandt's premium natural beef, please visit

Contact Information