1000 Fillmore Road, State College, PA 16803 • ContactCart

RE Farm Café team

Brenda Palmer, Culinary Composer and Preserving specialist, has 30 years combined experience in fine dining, catering, and as a personal chef, mostly in Central PA.  In 2011 she attained a BS in Environmental Studies which has enriched her love and understanding of the natural processes of this world we share.  Brenda raises Angora goats, blueberries and mushrooms.

“I am excited to share my knowledge of mushrooms with our guests at RE Farm Café, in everything from miso shitake soup to morel tiramisu shortbread.”

Laura Valchar, Composer and Home Foods Conductor, is a Pennsylvania native spending many years in the farming and culinary world armed with an undergraduate degree in Resource Management and a graduate degree in Sustainable Agriculture. Laura spent years honing her culinary skills here in State College and in Oslo, Norway.  Upon her return she worked as an organic vegetable farmer before starting her own local prepared home food enterprise.

“A huge part of my life is my love of travel.  It is inspiring to see how people have built their lives and culture around farms and food!”

Rebecca Elman, Culinary Composer, Cooking School Conductor and Personal Home Chef is devoted to cooking locally-sourced organic cuisine. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City, Rebecca perfected her culinary skills at the prestigious James Beard Foundation, and at the Mercer Kitchen(a Jean-George Restaurant).  For six years Rebecca ran a successful personal chef business, The Hidden Hostess, in Manhattan, cooking for families and corporations, and teaching adults and children how to prepare nourishing wholesome food.  Rebecca’s family history in Centre County goes back to the 18th century with the Dale farm on the Branch Road.

Today, Becca chooses State College “to raise her own family and offer her professional expertise to the local community.”

Brittney Pereda, Culinary Composer, was raised in the melting pot of Miami, Florida where, as a young Cuban-American, helped her grandmother cook and create wonderful meals.  She has been working with food professionally for 12 years and prides herself in ethnic and vegetarian cuisine.  Brittney is a certified trainer for raw food handling and specializes in banquet/catering operations and well versed in Mexican, English, Irish cuisines.

“I’m eager to create and provide fresh locally inspired flavors and to grow with RE Farm Café!”

Chris Langford, Culinary Composer, originally from woodsy northwestern Connecticut draws his culinary inspiration from family and the outdoors. With over a decade combined of professional cooking, catering, and organic farming experience, including two years working as a sous chef at Spats Cafe and Speakeasy, he continues to advance and strengthen his culinary knowledge to produce good food from sustainable sources.

"When life is hard, good food can always be there for you. Everyone loves food, and I love making people feel full, healthy, and happy."

Meg Weidenhof, Windswept Grower and Marketer, a State College native with almost a decade of experience in organic farming in Central Pennsylvania. Her focus has been on sustainable field and greenhouse management of diversified vegetables, herbs, and flowers.  She has established deep rooted relationships with local food lovers, producers, and purveyors.  Meg has promoted and managed on and off farm sales through community supported agriculture programs, retail and restaurant sales, farmers market development, workshare programs, social media, and visual marketing. She has also served on the board of the Friends and Farmers Co-op.

“I love eating and growing delicious, healthy food and embrace every opportunity to share this love through connecting land, bounty, and community.”

Erik Hagan, Windswept Farming Conductor, is a graduate student in the Ecology Program at Penn State.  With years of organic growing experience, including his own farm in Washington State, Erik is often teacher and presenter to dozens for agricultural professional organizations and government agencies.

“I just want to continue to learn about what Windswept Farm wants to be and together grow AWESOME foods!”

Valerie Thurnau, Re Farm Café Facility Conductor, is primarily focused on providing guests with dining experiences unlike any they have experienced before.  Valerie majored in Applied Human Nutrition at Penn State and has years of service and management experience.

It is my goal to provide our community with a wholesome and thoughtful place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and to have their every need anticipated and met with a warm and effortless dining experience.”

Tatjana McPartland, Special Events Conductor, has a meticulous eye for detail and extensive experience in managing both single operations and larger restaurant groups in US and the Caribbean. Tatjana holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a minor in Public Administration and has completed the first level class of Court of Master Sommeliers Americas.

“Some of the happy moments in life are the times people enjoy great food with their friends and loved ones.  Helping to create those beautiful lifelong memories while being environmentally conscious is my mission here at Re Farm Café.”

Monica and Duke Gastiger, LLC managing members, bring specialized talents and passion to RE Farm Café.

During Duke’s “corporate life” with Sheraton and Hyatt Hotels he embraced the priceless training with master chefs from around the world, learning the essence and nuances of each of their cuisines.  With a strong entrepreneurial drive, Duke returned to Penn State in 1985 to acquire The Rathskeller, opened Spats Café and Speakeasy in 1987, and continued as Chef/Owner with Monica until 2018. 

Monica’s first career as a landscape architect drove her appreciation for responsible development, recognizing land and environment are limited resources to be respected. Always a home gardener, Monica embraced locally grown foods and an appreciation for healthy options.  Monica is also a speech-language pathologist working in the education sector.

“Education about living responsibly is essential for all generations, and the opportunities with RE Farm Café are limitless.”

“RE’s cuisine?  Simplicity is the essence of style and grace.  We let the natural goodness of farmed foods steal the show!”