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Culinary Resource Team

We know that building a successful restaurant business in today’s market is a challenge. You need an entire crew of culinary experts to guide you in everything from food costing, to menu development, to inventory control, to sanitation.

Introducing Ben E. Keith’s Culinary Resource Team. Our group of dedicated, experienced, highly-regarded professionals are waiting for you. These trusted advisors will provide custom solutions tailored specifically to your business needs.

 

TRUSTED ADVISORS PROVIDING CUSTOM SOLUTIONS

 

Meet the Team

 

Bud Andersen

Aged: Joined Ben E. Keith in 2002

Blend: “Ask a Markon Chef”, Ambassador Chef for 1855 brands, and a Culinary Instructor at Amarillo College. Bud appears weekly on “Back to the Table with Chef Bud” on KAMR, Amarillo.

Infuse: Increasing profitability and evaluating menu applications. Brand and key product development.

Favorites: "Kosher salt and coarse black pepper. A utility knife that can slice, dice, carve, and peel. You can’t do anything without a knife."

Whisk: "Creating complex flavors from simple ingredients. Food is a facilitator that gathers us. Since the beginning of time, folks have gathered to eat."

Location: West Texas


 

Brandon Behrens

Aged: Joined Ben E. Keith in 2006

Blend: Over 27 years of experience that ranges from both front and back of the house.

Infuse: Restaurant management and center of the plate.

Favorites: "Kosher salt and black pepper mix; 9 in stainless steel tongs."

Whisk: "Start with quality ingredients and this will greatly improve your chance of a good result."

Location: Oklahoma


 

Jack Bretzke, CEC AAC FEWMCS

Aged: Joined Ben E. Keith in 2008

Blend: Certified Executive Chef’s and named Texas State Chef of the Year. He was inducted into the American Culinary Federation’s Honor Society (American Academy of Chefs) in 1991. In 1992 became a lifetime member of the Epicurean Master Chefs Society (London UK). 50 years of food industry experience.

Infuse: Multi-unit management and fresh food manufacturing.

Favorites: "Fresh Bay Leaves & my Dexter Diamond Steel for sharp knives."

Whisk: "All Culinary successes requires two elements.

1) Select the best possible ingredients,

2) Execute ingredients using traditional standards."

Location: Dallas / Ft. Worth


 

Jason Bright

Aged: Joined Ben E. Keith in 2015

Blend: Food Service Director in the Contract Dining and Higher Education sectors of the Hospitality Business. Jason graduated from Missouri State University in December of 2007 with a degree in Hospitality Administration and received his M.S. in Organization, Learning, and Technology from Texas A&M Commerce.

Infuse: Food waste management, human performance improvement, business analytics, and program implementation.

Favorites: "Salt. Too much and it's overpowering, just enough and its perfection."

Whisk: "Food is about nuance. Take care of the details and the end result will be worth the effort."

Location: Dallas / Ft. Worth


 

Marcus Calderon

Aged: Joined Ben E. Keith in 2007

Blend: Started out as a sales trainee and transitioned to Produce Specialist shortly thereafter. After working in the grocery, restaurant, and beer industries, Marcus soon learned his passion for relationships and product development were highly regarded in the foodservice industry.

Infuse: Produce and product development.

Favorites: "Bacon. Bacon makes everything better. The ‘old faithful’ black iron skillet."

Whisk: "Food is more than ingredients, it is memories. Food is about experiencing life with those that you care about."

Location: West Texas


 

Chris Cukjati

Aged: Joined Ben E. Keith in 2013

Blend: San Antonio Division’s Executive Chef by title but serves in many capacities. Chris is a Markon Chef for 2017-2018 and has been involved in both High School culinary competitions and TCA events. In 2016, 2017, and returning in 2018, he is the guest Chef for Berkman’s Pavilion at The Master’s Golf Tournament in Augusta.

Infuse: Menu development, profitability issues, food cost, labor costs, and back of the house efficiencies.

Favorites: "Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Silpat, ricer, parchment paper, Angelo Po Combi Oven, and a paper towel roll."

Whisk: "Good food is good food. If the right ingredient or cooking method works use it. Keep learning and push yourself to be better!"

Location: San Antonio


 

Charlie Estrada

Aged: Joined Ben E. Keith in 2008

Blend: With more than 25 years’ experience in Center of the Plate products specifically, and the entire foodservice operation in general, Charlie has earned the reputation of “The Meat Doctor”, diagnosing the customer’s operation, offering consultative solutions, menu innovation, analysis, preparation techniques and much more. Following in his father’s footsteps, he has a passion for helping customers to succeed.

Infuse: Food costing, inventory control, and sanitation

Favorites: "Olive oil a must; sharp butcher knife"

Whisk: "Put passion on the plate."

Location: Gulf Coast


 

Shane Henderson, CEC

Aged: Joined Ben E. Keith in 2009

Blend: Executive Chef for Ben E. Keith Foods, Mid-South Division in North Little Rock, where he lends his expertise to independent restaurant operators. Shane also helps organize and support Ben E. Keith’s many philanthropic activities with a variety of area non-profit organizations. He graduated from Johnson and Wales Culinary School and continued to hone his culinary and management skills.

Infuse: Food costing, inventory control, and sanitation.

Favorites: "Heavy duty plating spoon, and a cast iron skillet."

Whisk: "Simple is far superior to complicated, you get too many items on a plate/menu/kitchen/life everything ends up muddled."

Location: Mid-South


 

Gary Hill

Aged: Joined Ben E. Keith in 1998

Blend: District Sales Representative, Produce Specialist, and currently as Division Chef. He has a passion for food and loves to share his knowledge of it with our sales force as well as our great customers.

Infuse: Menu development, product safety, food handling, and market trends.

Favorites: "Garlic and an immersion blender."

Whisk: "Ingredient-driven. Seek out the freshest most sustainable products available. Focus on making a single ingredient the star of the dish."

Location: Gulf Coast


 

Patrick Mitchell, CEC, AAC

Aged: Joined Ben E. Keith in 2008

Blend: 2016 USA National Chef of the Year, Patrick is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with 43 years experience in the industry. He is an American Culinary Federation Certified Judge as well as a member of the American Academy of Chefs, since 2005, and is the Central Region Director for the AAC. In 2004, Chef Mitchell was awarded the ACF’s – Chef Professionalism award for the Central Region. Patrick was the ACF’s National Chef of the year in 2016 and represented the USA in the Global Chef Challenge in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2018.

Infuse: profitability issues, food cost calculations, labor costs, workflow and station efficiencies, recipe development, and menu ideas.

Favorites: "A good sharp knife. Precision cuts are critical."

Whisk: “Focused Flavors. Well-seasoned with limited ingredients enhance the flavor of the item. Allow the flavor of the food itself to stand out."

Location: Dallas / Ft. Worth


 

Kenney Reneau

Aged: Joined Ben E. Keith in 2016

Blend: Kenny has over 28 years of experience in the foodservice business. He has managed and opened a variety of nationally known restaurants. He has over 16 years of experience on the sales/supplier side.

Infuse: Center of the plate.

Favorites: "Fresh avocado. Tongs, spatula, and an apron."

Whisk: "Strive to have a well-trained team from the manager to the dishwasher. A good team creates an atmosphere where customers will gravitate to. Everybody wants to be on a winning team."

Location: San Antonio