Celebrity Chefs, Restaurateurs to Host Restaurants Rock in Support of ProStart Program

Three of Bravo’s “Top Chef” reality show’s biggest stars – Richard Blais, Spike Mendelsohn and Fabio Viviani – will be harnessing their star power to help raise funds for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) ProStart program at Restaurants Rock. The three celebrity chefs and restaurateurs will host the second annual party held on Sunday, May 6, 2012 during the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, and will conduct demos on the NRA Show floor in the World Culinary Showcase.

Restaurants Rock – to be held at Chicago’s LaSalle Power Company – is the official all-industry party of the NRA Show and International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event (IWSB) and will celebrate the spirit of the restaurant and hospitality industry. The event, sponsored by Crown Imports, will feature Bravo’s “Top Chef” stars Blais, Mendelsohn and Viviani, live music, as well as an action-packed live mixology competition to crown the IWSB Star of the Bar. Proceeds from Restaurants Rock will support the NRAEF’s ProStart program – a nationwide, two-year program that unites industry and the classroom to develop the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice leaders.

“NRAEF programs like ProStart are developing a stronger workforce and building the next generation of restaurant and foodservice industry leaders,” said Lynette McKee, executive director of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “As the industry convenes in Chicago to celebrate food, drink and hospitality, we’re excited that Richard, Spike and Fabio are joining with us at Restaurants Rock to raise funds needed to put rising ProStart stars on the path to success.”

Richard Blais, winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef All-Stars”, is chef/partner of The Spence in Atlanta, and chef/owner of multiple Flip Burger Boutiques and HD-1 outposts. Blais will be publishing his first cookbook with Clarkson Potter in the coming year. Spike Mendelsohn, celebrity chef and television personality, is the head chef and owner of Good Stuff Eatery and We, The Pizza, both located in Washington, D.C. Mendelsohn is a two-time “Top Chef” contestant and contender on this season’s The Next Iron Chef. Fabio Viviani, born in Florence, Italy, is Executive Chef and Owner of Café Firenze in Moorpark, CA and Firenze Osteria in Toluca Lake, CA. A two-time “Top Chef” contestant and voted “Top Chef” Fan Favorite, Viviani is the author of 5 cookbooks.

Restaurants Rock runs from 9 p.m. to midnight, and entry is limited. Registered NRA Show attendees may purchase tickets for $50 each and limited to first-come, first-served. IWSB registrants may purchase tickets for $25. After March 30, tickets increase to $60 for NRA Show attendees and $35 for IWSB attendees.

Blais, Mendelsohn and Viviani will also be conducting demos in the World Culinary Showcase on the NRA Show floor. The cooking demonstration theater provides event attendees an interactive setting to soak up the passion, innovation and inspiration shared by world-class culinary masters who perform live on stage all four days. The three Top Chefs will conduct demos on Sunday, May 6, 2012.

By bringing industry and the classroom together, ProStart gives 90,000 students nationwide a platform to discover new interests and talents and opens doors for fulfilling careers. From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart’s industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and builds practical skills and a foundation that will last a lifetime. With national and local support from industry members, educators, the NRAEF and state restaurant associations, ProStart reaches 1,700 schools nationwide. For more information on the ProStart program, visit www.prostart.restaurant.org or find us on Twitter or Facebook.

The annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals. NRA Show 2012 will be held at its new dates May 5-8, at McCormick Place in Chicago. The event attracts 58,000+ attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 100+ countries, and showcases more of the latest products, services, innovative ideas, up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues and other growth opportunities than any other industry event. For more information, visit the Show Web site at www.restaurant.org/show.

As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) enhances the restaurant industry’s service to the public through education, community engagement, and promotion of career opportunities. The restaurant and foodservice industry comprises 945,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 13 million employees, making it one of the nation’s largest employers. The NRAEF is focused on working with the Association to lead America’s restaurant industry into a new era of prosperity, prominence and participation by providing the valuable tools and resources needed to educate our current and incoming employees. For more information on the NRAEF, visit www.nraef.org.