DECATUR — Leslie and Doug Hein were looking forward to their meal Friday night as they arrived at Richland Community College for Chef Ryan Rogiers’ charity dinner for Alzheimer’s research.
“We’re excited for this,” said Doug Hein. “We’ve been to Alinea, where he (Rogiers) worked in Chicago, and we both enjoyed it, and this (dinner) is a neat mix of a great cause and a great culinary experience.”
“My daughter took a class this summer, and Chef Rogiers was her instructor,” added Leslie Hein, “so when we learned he (Rogiers) was doing this, we thought we should come. It’s for a great cause.”
The Heins were two of the 45 community members who attended Rogiers’ five-course dinner, which he dedicated to his mother, Elizabeth Rogiers, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s several years ago, as well as the many others affected by the disease.
“It’s fun cooking for her (my mother),” Rogiers said as he made his way through Richland’s culinary arts kitchen, overseeing his students and adding last-minute touches to some of the courses. “She enjoys coming to the dinners, and this is a great cause.”
First-year culinary student Miranda Curry, who was helping to prepare an amuse bouche, or a bite-size hors d’oeuvre that accompanied the meal’s first course of corn chowder, said she was happy to be able to help.
“I love helping with this,” she said. “It’s close to home for me, too, because my grandpa had (Alzheimer’s disease). I think it’s awesome he (Rogiers) is doing this.”
Preparing to run in his third Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7 as part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Team Alz Stars, Rogiers said he was looking forward to donating $1,000 to his team as a result of Friday’s dinner.
With courses including corn chowder, heirloom tomatoes, watermelon “ceviche,” roasted chicken and chocolate, all accompanied by different nonalcoholic drinks, the dinner was a large undertaking, but Rogiers, his students, volunteers and Chef Brian Tucker, director of the college’s Culinary Arts Institute, were happy to do it.
“Any opportunity to raise money for a good cause is well worth it,” Tucker said. “It’s a cause that’s close to Chef Rogiers’ heart, and it’s a great opportunity for the students to learn that dinners like this can be used to bring everyone together for a great cause.”
Rogiers’ parents and sister, Shirley, said they were appreciative of the dinner.
“We’re so proud of Ryan,” said Terry Rogiers, (Ryan) Rogiers’ father.
“I’m happy,” said Elizabeth Rogiers.
Donations to Rogiers and Team Alz Stars can be made at http://