Restaurant and foodservice industry leaders generated nearly $350,000 in contributions at the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) 19th Annual Ted J. Balestreri Leadership Classic last week.  The money raised will help support the NRAEF’s ProStart and scholarship programs to build and strengthen educational opportunities for students and educators across the nation. Contributions were made through attendee registration, sponsor donations and the Monterey Wine & Lifestyle Auction dinner – co-hosted by the Monterey Wine Educational Foundation – at the March 9-12 event in Pebble Beach, California.

The event's live auction drew celebrity attendees, including Thomas Keller, famed chef and owner of Per Se and The French Laundry, Franco Harris, NFL Hall of Famer and restaurant industry entrepreneur, and Leon Panetta, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. It provided attendees the opportunity to make an immediate, positive impact on the NRAEF. Each year, the NRAEF awards millions of dollars in scholarships to students and educators, and develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice leaders through its nationwide, two-year high school program ProStart, operated in coordination with state restaurant associations.

"The hallmark of this exclusive event is that it enables top restaurant and foodservice operators and suppliers to invest in the future of our industry,” says Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and NRAEF. “Through generous contributions like those from our Leadership Classic attendees, the NRAEF is able to positively impact the lives of 90,000 ProStart students and provide scholarships for hundreds of students and educators this year.”

A true highlight of the Ted J. Balestreri Leadership Classic was to watch the ProStart program in action. Throughout the event, students from Pacific Grove High School put their skills on display when they whipped up delicious snacks on the golf course, created tempting desserts, and worked side-by-side with the staff at the Inn at Spanish Bay to execute an outstanding menu for the Monterey Wine & Lifestyle Auction dinner.  Additionally, a former ProStart student and NRAEF scholarship recipient, Alyssa Van De Vort, spoke during the auction dinner about the power of ProStart and the positive affect it has had on putting her on a path to success.

The 2011 Ted J. Balestreri Leadership Classic included outings for golfers and non-golfers alike, including tee-times at three of the most picturesque and respected golf courses in the world: Pebble Beach Golf Links, host of the 2010 U.S. Open; Tehama Golf Club; and The Links at Spanish Bay. The Ted J. Balestreri Leadership Cup is engraved with the names of each year's winners of the individual tournament, and resides in the Pebble Beach trophy case alongside those from other tournaments.

This year's men's and ladies' winners with overall low-gross scores are:
•Kent Walrack, President/COO, Dairy and Contract Divisions, Lyons Magnus
•Barb Butorac, spouse of John Butorac, President and CEO, Marco's Franchising LLC

This year's men's and ladies' winners with overall low-net scores are:
•Jason Pak, Director, Geographical Marketing, Anheuser-Busch Inc.
•Julie Flik, Consultant, Compass Group

The first-place winners of the team scramble competition at Spyglass Hill Golf Course are Brooks Broadhurst, Jim Hope, Jack Butorac and Barb Butorac.

Time off the course was spent participating in wine-tastings, architectural tours, and activities specifically designed for attendees to enjoy the spectacular vistas that the events’ prime locations.

This year's event was co-chaired by Ted J. Balestreri, chairman and CEO, The Cannery Row Company; and Carlton Curtis, vice president, Industry Affairs, Foodservice & Hospitality Division, The Coca-Cola Company, and NRAEF Board of Trustees chairman.

Sponsors of the event included QSR.

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