Beer, Bread, & BBQ: NYC Bates Alumni on Entrepreneurship and the Food and Beverage Industry

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 — 6:00pm
until 8:00 pm
RSVP by Wednesday, March 15
New York Athletic Club
180 Central Park South
New York, NY 10019
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Three Bates Alums discuss their stories of starting or working in the food and beverage industry and their advice on becoming entrepreneurs.

Andrew Buehler ’13 – Founder & CEO Urban Smokehouse

Rhonda Crosson ’97  – Independent Bread Baker

Eric Ruta ’14 – Founder & Owner Magnify Brewing

$25 per person; $15 for alumni classes 2013–2023. Hosted bar and hors d’oeuvres provided.

Learn about the speakers:

Rhonda Crosson ’97

Rhonda has worked for and with some of New York’s best bakeries and high-profile chefs, from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and Per Se to Amy’s Bread, Greg Braxtrom, Daniel Boulud and Marcus Samuelsson, where she first got her interest in Scandinavian bread making and with Claus Meyer (the culinary entrepreneur behind Noma) in the US and Denmark.

Rhonda used to work as a chemist and holds a degree in Biological Chemistry from Bates College, as well as diplomas in both Bread Baking and Culinary Arts from the International Culinary Center, where she has also been a bread instructor and most recently the recipient of the ICC 2017 Outstanding Alumni award for excellence in bread making.

Rhonda takes great pride in perfecting her rye bread so it tastes like that of a Danish grandmother, and when not baking, she loves to travel the world.

Eric Ruta ’14

While attending Bates College in Maine, Eric Ruta interned at a local brewery and became captivated by the vibrant culture and community around local craft beer. Upon graduation, he saw an opportunity to bring this culture back to his home state of NJ, where very few craft breweries operated. He opened Magnify Brewing in 2015 at the age of 23 and became the youngest brewery founder and owner in the United States.

From the beginning, Magnify pushed the boundaries of brewing, from intense flavors and wild ingredients to colorful labels and collaborations with brewers across the US and Europe and bands like Young the Giant and Real Estate. Within six months of opening, Beer Advocate named Magnify Brewing Company as one of the 33 Best New Breweries in the U.S.

After a year, it was time to expand, and Magnify doubled each year through 2018 when capacity was reached at its production facility. The Magnify team has grown from a team of 4 people to over 20. Magnify Brewing Company currently sells to over 400 retailers in NJ and has distribution in ten other states: ME, NH, MA, NY, PA, VA, NC, SC, FL, and IN. Magnify also exports to several countries in Europe and Asia. Magnify is in the process of opening a second brewery and tap room in NJ.

Andrew Buehler ’13

Andrew spent 10 years in “Corporate America” before finally saying, “this sucks,” and traded my suit for an apron.

During high school, he was the President of the Grilling Society. In college, he founded the second collegiate competitive eating club in the country, The Fat Cats, and hosted an annual pig roast for the entire school.

His entire life has been very close to food. For his mother, it was a passion, and she was an avid home cook. For his father, it was a profession, and he is a supplier and contract manufacturer for grocery stores and restaurants.

Andrew is the guy who orders for the table at restaurants, cooks for friends and family weekly, and, when traveling, knows where and what he wants to eat in advance. Simply put, he loves food and has been around it intimately his whole life — now being able to call it not only his passion but also his job. He looks forward to serving you the best ribs and soon to be many more dishes of your life. Join him on the Urban Smokehouse journey!

Contact Stephanie Dumont at or 207-786-8370 with questions.

By attending, I agree that I will follow local COVID guidelines in effect on the day of the event.