Over two decades old, the black and white photograph shows a pretty blond grandmother with her young grandsons ready to haul freshly picked produce in their little wagons.
Brandon Frohne is the smiling 5-year-old in the grainy photograph which clearly portends his future as a rising young local chef; a moment captured back in the day with his older brother and famous restaurateur grandmother who still owns the popular La Cote Basque restaurant in Saint Petersburg, Fl.
“I’m a fifth generation chef,” said Frohne, 26, and Executive Chef at Mt. Juliet’s Rutland Place Catering since January.
Though not even 30-years-old, Frohne has catapulted himself in the chef arena so much so he was nominated and selected to compete in the 2012 World Chef Challenge in Las Vegas from Nov. 1 through Nov. 4. He will be pitted against 47 of the best chefs from around the world in skills, recipe, and taste challenges unlike anyone has ever witnessed before with a chance to snag winner-take-all and a $75,000 purse.
It’s a given Frohne is a “foodie,” but on a extremely elevated sphere. He has a family history enriched with Swiss and German restaurateurs. Frohne’s family has owned restaurants across the globe including Canada, “Unter den Linen” in Berlin, and “Al Ronco” in Switzerland.
Born in St. Petersburg, Fla., Frohne spent his childhood between the Smokey Mountains and Tampa Bay. At an early age he learned the fundamentals of classical European cuisine and technique in his grandmother’s restaurant.
Raised by a single working mother and with three older brothers, Frohne learned quickly to cook for the family.
“I think I cooked my first full meal when I was about 10-years-old,” recalled Frohne, who is married to Lizzie and has two sons, 5 and 17 months-old. “My fondest memory of cooking when I was young was when I was at my grandma’s restaurant. I learned how to make awesome salad dressings and chocolate mouse.”
Now he oversees teaching the sixth generation.
“I taught my son Nolan how to saute in a pan when he was 4-years-old,” Frohne said with a smile. “I’ve introduced food to both my sons. Nolan loves to flip food around in the pan.”
And his littlest one props himself on the oven door to stand and watch.
“I want to keep the legacy going,” he said.
Wife Lizzie has also learned a lot of cooking techniques from Frohne. Frohne laughingly revealed that wasn’t always the case.
“She burned down our kitchen,” he said. “Literally.”
Lizzie, inspired by the Food Network’s Rachel Ray, was making Fruity Pebble Crusted chicken when things got out of hand and the fire department had to come in and put out the fire.
“But, now she’s actually a really good cook,” said Frohne. “She’s learned the foundation of cooking.”
Perhaps a tiny bit more classic than cereal crusted chicken, some of Frohne’s award winning recipes go by the likes of “curry scented sweet potato and apple salad,” “smoked tomato bisque with goat cheese espuma,” “Bisque de Crevettes,” “modernist shrimp and grits with cherry smoked prawns,” “gouda grits,” “hay smoked porhetta,” “liquid nitrogen coke float with salted caramel and whisky ice cream,” and the list goes on and on.
Frohne said these childhood experiences inspired him and ignited his passion for the culinary arts. In 2003 he completed a formal culinary apprenticeship in Tampa Bay under critically acclaimed chef and restaurateur facade Miller of Savant Fine Dining, and Savant Fine Chocolates, and Antilia Fine Dining and Cities Restaurant. This mentor was a graduate of Culinary Institute of American and many other fine schools. Chef Miller was an influential force in developing Frohne’s skill set and elevating his career in progressive french cuisine and patisseire. Frohne was offered a Chef de Cuisine position at the Peninsula Inn and Spa and Six Table Fine dining. While Frohne was there they achieved the remarkable feat of earning the status of Top Hundred Rated Restaurants in America and the highest rated restaurant in Tampa Bay in 2004.
Frohne relocated to Nashville in 2005 and worked at several restaurants. It was then he learned the importance of supporting local farmers, sustainable agriculture and advocating for food securing.