Chef Brandon Hughes, Executive Chef
Brandon Hughes developed his passion for cooking as a result of growing up in a major metropolitan area. He was influenced by the restaurant culture, diversity and availability of excellent produce and interesting foods from around the world that a large city can offer. "My mom can definitely cook," says Chef Hughes, "but ours was a family that loved to dine out." Growing up in LA "any occasion at all was an excuse to try an exciting new restaurant or visit those we loved to frequent," says Hughes. Submerged in a society of 'foodies' and surrounded by family, Brandon says he "found himself inspired by, and gravitated towards, Chefs who pursued creative culinary trends while still respecting the essence of the ingredients they used."
Hughes came to Santa Barbara in 2001 to attend Santa Barbara City College's School of Culinary Arts while simultaneously working in area restaurants. He honed his skills working at Epiphany and then Wine Cask as well as Bouchon, where he eventually became C hef in 2007. Those four years at bouchon, in particular, allowed Hughes to develop relationships with local farmers and fisherman that continue to flourish as a result of bouchon's market-to-table approach.
Now, as leader of the team at Wine Cask, Chef Hughes continues the tradition of classic cuisine at one of Santa Barbara's most well-known restaurants. "I believe without question that the 'as-fresh-as-possible' approach can be applied to the classic dishes of an iconic restaurant like Wine Cask and be successful both for this restaurant and my own development as a chef," Brandon states. "Our guests can tell the difference that sourcing fresh, local ingredients makes. And letting those ingredients speak for themselves allows me to create menus that are memorable", says Hughes. "My ultimate goal is to produce food guests crave while carrying on the 25-year tradition of culinary excellence at Wine Cask."
Rosie Gerard, Pastry Chef
Rosie found early gratification in the world of pastry, baking cakes, cookies and homemade breads with her mother. Rosie’s love of baking, experimentation, and the endless combinations available to her cultivated her desire to take her knowledge and passion further.
Chef Gerard graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Academy of Culinary Arts, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Upon graduating, she worked for Petit Louis Bistro, in Baltimore, Maryland under Chef Cindy Wolf and later for acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud at the famed Café Boulud, in Palm Beach, Florida.
Rosie’s favorite desserts are the perfect balance between sweet and savory, she likes to experiment with truffles, herbs, meats, cheeses and other surprise ingredients to achieve a flavor profile that is unique and intriguing, to those who indulge in her delicious desserts.
Jennifer Brodt, General Manager
Since completing her university studies in Fine Art and Photography, Ms. Brodt has devoted the past 17 years of her life to developing her skills in the art and business of fine dining. She spent her early years in the coastal regions of Maryland, Delaware and South Florida, developing her skills and enriching her knowledge of coastal cuisine and fine wine. Ms. Brodt relocated from Palm Beach, Florida to Birmingham, Alabama, to open another restaurant and further her education in the ever-changing restaurant industry. Since moving to Santa Barbara, she has worked as the General Manager of Bouchon, Seagrass and now Wine Cask, under owner and restaurateur, Mitchell Sjerven.
"My philosophy is simple," she says. "The most important part of any job in this business is to make the guest feel welcome, anticipate their needs, and make sure guests have a positive dining experience in an elegant, yet unpretentious atmosphere."
To that end, Ms. Brodt is a tireless worker, with little interest in being in the public eye, or securing titles. She enjoys the "mechanics" of the restaurant, making all the various elements, parts and challenges settle into a cohesive experience for both staff and guests alike.
When away from the restaurant, Ms. Brodt spends her time boxing at State Street Boxing Club, and shopping at Farmers Market trying to create culinary masterpieces for her boyfriend, Josh.
Branden Bidwell, Wine Director
I've been in restaurants since I was 10, cooking breakfast at my Father's restaurant before school in Temecula. I started working as a server when I was 14 by exaggerating my age on a job application and I've never worked in any other field.
After moving to Santa Barbara in 2002, I started working at Bacara, then San Ysidro Ranch, and served at Wine Cask from 2007 until 2009. I received a B.A. in Culinary Arts in 2009 and my last position, before moving back to the Wine Cask, was as General Manager for The Hungry Cat. When the Wine Director position at the Wine Cask opened up, I had to have it. For a wine geek such as myself, it's a dream job.
My wife, Caitlin, and I met in Santa Barbara and we recently purchased our first home here. We love this town, being able to walk to Farmer's Market, dining out and brewing a little beer in the garage on days off.
Sarah Rudd, Restaurant Manager
A long-time Santa Barbara resident, attending UCSB for Cultural Anthropology and Biology. Mrs. Rudd began as a hostess at Piatti while completing her studies; Sarah’s charisma and love of the business helped her transition to Assistant General Manager, Private Events Manager and General Manager of Piatti. Sarah decided to alter her original career path and make the food and beverage industry her focus and career.
Sarah is constantly educating herself and challenging herself. Sarah strives to create and develop guest relations and to motivate those around her. Sarah’s extroverted personality and sharp wit makes her a commodity for front-of-house operations. Sarah has boundless energy and a true love of the business.
When Sarah is away from work she spends her time channeling her inner Martha Stewart, baking, decorating and creating everything from food to décor for her family. Sarah spends her free time dedicated to her husband, Robert, and two daughters, Chloe and Eva.