The Deschutes Brewery Sagebrush Classic recently announced its line-up of celebrity chefs who will participate in this summer’s Classic Feast, the highlight of the popular two-day celebration which benefits the Deschutes Children’s Foundation.
The Sagebrush Classic, which typically sells out, is a favorite among the star chef crowd, many who return summer after summer.
“The Sagebrush Classic is just that for me – a classic event with national notoriety that is a must on my calendar year after year. I have cooked all over the world and feel the event is world class.” said Mark Kiffin, owner of The Compound Restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico and James Beard Award Winner as one of America’s Best Chefs.
“The event always puts together a great line-up of chefs, the outdoor event is spectacular in the Oregon high desert, and they pair our cuisine with beer. Chefs love beer, locally produced in Bend from Deschutes Brewery – truly the best of times.”
Indeed, an invitation to participate in the Classic Feast is regarded as a high honor in the chef community. (See sidebar for all-star chef line-up for 2009 Sagebrush.)
Celebrating its 21st year this summer, the Deschutes Brewery Sagebrush Classic had humble beginnings. It started in 1989 when Gary Fish, Deschutes Brewery founder and president, organized a golf tournament for the pub’s customers, employees and vendors.
That was followed by a barbeque in the alley behind the pub on Bond Street, and it benefited the Deschutes Children’s Foundation. In 1994 a gourmet dinner was added that involved some of the top chefs in the country.
Today the Classic Feast showcases the culinary artistry of national and international star chefs, and has evolved into a must-attend event for chefs and party-goers alike. In total, the Sagebrush Classic has generated more than $2 million for Deschutes Children’s Foundation, which each year serves more than 45,000 local children and families.
This year’s event begins on Friday, July 17, 2009 at Broken Top’s Golf Course. Fifty-two foursomes will compete for prizes and bragging rights in a friendly but fierce best ball competition.
The party continues on Saturday, July 18, with the Sagebrush Classic Feast, considered by many to be Central Oregon’s hottest night of the year. In the Broken Top Meadow, 1,000 or more guests will dine on small-plate samplings of cuisine that has been carefully paired with award-winning craft beers from Deschutes Brewery.
The gourmet grazing is followed by dancing to live music under the summer sky. This year’s entertainment features Portland’s concert rock violinist Aaron Meyer and Los Angeles’ AM/FM, a 70s rock show sensation.
Whereas many of the restaurants represented by these chefs have months-long waiting lists for reservations, the Sagebrush Classic allows guests to meet the chefs personally and enjoy their gourmet creations. Its unique setting draws those who want to treat special clients or just to enjoy a fun and special time with family and friends.
The price of individual tickets for the Classic Feast has been lowered to $200 in light of the current economic situation.
Asked about the how the local economy might impact attendance at the event, Fish said:
“We certainly expect it to impact Sagebrush, which is unfortunate because the people who are benefited by this event are those who are the most impacted by the economy that we are currently in. We are optimistic that the impact the event will feel will be minimized because ultimately this is a wonderful town full of wonderful people.
“We are also trying to extend the reach of this event to Portland and bring people down here, which of course will benefit the economy. There are already a number of people who come to this event from out of town. So we are optimistic that we can enhance this while we continue to work our way through these very troubled times.”
Major Cash Sponsors of The Deschutes Brewery Sagebrush Classic include Broken Top Club, Broken Top Community Association, Smolich Motors/Volvo, Wells Fargo, Columbia Distributing and Starview Foundation.
Pricing and detailed information for golf teams, tables and sponsorships are listed at www.sagebrush.org. In addition to ticket and sponsorship proceeds, the event raises funds via a much-anticipated silent auction.
2009 Chef Lineup
JOSÉ ANDRÉS – chef/owner of THINKfoodGROUP – Washington, DC
José Andrés is an internationally recognized culinary innovator best known for bringing both traditional and avant-garde Spanish fare to America. Andrés is the host of José: Made in Spain, the first major television series on American television to focus on Spain’s wine, food and travel.
MARK KIFFIN – The Compound Restaurant – Santa Fe, New Mexico
Widely hailed as a leader in Southwestern cuisine, Kiffin creates seasonal, contemporary American dishes that combine the diverse culinary influences of the Mediterranean with those of the New World.
JENNIFER JASINSKI – Rioja – Denver, Colorado
If Larimer Square is Denver’s dining destination, consider Chef Jennifer Jasinski its star. Jasinski has appeared on CBS’s “Chef on a Shoestring” and the Food Network’s “Challenge: Ultimate Thanksgiving Feast.”
ROBERTO DONNA – Galileo – Washington, DC
Born in the Piedmont region of Italy, Roberto Donna’s fervent mission is the promotion of authentic Italian cuisine. Chef Donna arrived in Washington, D.C. with a lifetime of cooking experience and education. His flagship restaurant, Galileo, immediately gained a passionate following in the DC metro area.
MICHAEL SMITH – Michael Smith & Extra Virgin – Kansas City, Missouri
A James Beard semi-finalist in 2009, Chef Michael Smith and his recipes have been featured in numerous publications both locally and nationally including Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Wine Spectator and Robb Report. Having loaned his face and name to a number of major ad campaigns, including those for Grey Poupon mustard, Vita-Prep Blenders, Kikkoman Products and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Smith continues to rank among the nation’s most recognized and respected chefs.
TOM FLEMING – Preferred Restaurant Services – Dallas, Texas
Chef Tom Fleming has achieved national recognition and awards for his culinary accomplishments at some of the world’s best restaurants. A proven leader in the kitchen, Fleming has graced the pages of Bon Appétit, Southern Living, Gourmet, Esquire and USA Today, and has earned the James Beard Foundation’s award for “Best New Restaurant.”
KEN FRANK – La Toque – Napa, California
Chef Ken Frank has spent more than two- thirds of his life in the kitchen. He was a celebrity chef in Los Angeles at the tender age of 21, when he made a name for himself as a grand master of French-California cuisine at La Guillotine. By the age of 24, he owned his own restaurant, the original La Toque on Sunset Boulevard, which he ran for 15 years.
CATHY WHIMS – Nostrana – Portland, Orregon
Chef Cathy Whims has been serving Italian fare to Portlanders for years, first at Genoa, where she was executive chef, and now at her restaurant Nostrana, where “Many of the dishes offered are otherwise hard to find in this country, but are just what an Italian food connoisseur might crave,” according to Bon Appetit magazine.
GAVIN McMICHAEL – The Blacksmith – Bend
Talent, opportunity and pure motivation have been the hallmarks of Chef Gavin McMichael’s 15 years of culinary experience. Rated one of the best new restaurants in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, McMichael’s Blacksmith Restaurant opened to immediate accolades from residents and tourists eager for an upscale, new American menu.
JACKIE LAU – Roy’s Restaurants – Honolulu, Hawaii
Chef Jackie Lau began as a pastry chef at Roy’s Restaurant in Honololu, her first job out of culinary school. She quickly mastered Hawaiian fusion cuisine and became Chef de Cuisine; later Yamaguchi sent Lau to open his restaurants in Japan and Guam.
GREG & MARY SONNIER – Gabrielle – New Orleans, Louisiana
Chefs Mary and Greg Sonnier opened Gabrielle in 1992. Bon Appetit, Southern Living, Esquire, Travel & Leisure and Gourmet have recognized the restaurant many times nationally for its excellence in contemporary Creole cooking. In 1994, Food & Wine named Greg one of the “Top Ten New Chefs in America.” Sadly, Gabrielle had to shut its doors due to damage from Hurricane Katrina.
MATT NELTNER – Deschutes Brewery – Bend
Deschutes Brewery’s Executive Chef Matt Neltner uses only the finest ingredients in the production of the food. The emphasis is on fresh and handcrafted products with everything possible made on premise including the sausage, breads and mustard.
MATT MULDER – Broken Top Club – Bend
Chef Mike Mackie knew he wanted to be a chef as early as age 12 while following his mother around the kitchen. He attended Western Culinary and The Greenbrier in West Virgina. Mackie’s career included stops at The Oregon Convention Center, Black Rabbit at Edgefield, Timberline Lodge, and Cascade Ski Club and Lodge.
SCOTT NEUMAN – ¡OBA! Restaurante – Portland, Oregon
In addition to his duties at the restaurant, Chef Scott Neuman has hosted a radio show, “Dining Out in the Northwest,” for more than eight years. Oba was called “the best place to eat while in Portland” by The New York Times and chosen as “Restaurant of the Year” by Willamette Week. Oba serves Nuevo Latino cuisine – “the kind of comfort food you’d find on a sultry Cuban plantation in the 1950s, or in a spacious South American hacienda today,” as Neuman says – and is strongly committed to using sustainable, natural, organic and regional products whenever possible.
SONTHAYA KAEWPRADIT – The Chedi Hotel – Phuket, Thailand
Chef Sonthaya Kaewpradit, a native of Thailand, serves as head chef and teaching instructor at The Chedi Phuket, a luxury hotel located in Thailand’s Pansea Bay. His culinary background includes time at many 5-star restaurants and hotels throughout Thailand. He has been with The Chedi Phuket for five years.
AND SPECIAL GUESTS
JOHN FINGER AND TERRY SAWYER – Hog Island Oysters – Marshall, CA
BILL MARINELLI – Marinelli Shellfish – multiple locations in WA and CA
NIGEL VIET, ANNA TRUONG AND CHRISTINA NGUYEN – Sheraton Saigon Hotel, Vietnam