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Benchmark Hospitality Chefs Invited to Cook
'Benchmark Holiday Dinner' James Beard House,
New York
Joined by Benchmark's Pastry Chef & Sommelier

New York, November 14, 2006 - Benchmark Hospitality chefs from hotels and resorts in West Virginia, Virginia, Long Island New York and New Jersey have been invited by The James Beard Foundation to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in Manhattan.  The dinner, entitled the 'Benchmark Holiday Dinner,' will take place on Thursday, December 28, 2006.  

This is the second time in as many years that Benchmark chefs have been invited to cook a Benchmark Holiday Dinner at the Beard House, which is located at 167 West 12th Street in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.  Last year's event sold out weeks before the dinner took place and the expectation is for the same this year.

The Benchmark chefs include Dale Hawkins, executive chef at Stonewall Resort of Roanoke, West Virginia; Jason Lage of Lansdowne Resort, located near Leesburg, Virginia; Todd Wolfson, executive chef at Glen Cove Mansion in Glen Cove, New York; and Jennifer Chambers, pastry chef at North Maple Inn of Basking Ridge, New Jersey.  Mary Watson, Benchmark's award-winning sommelier at Lansdowne Resort, has paired each course with wine.

The Benchmark Holiday Dinner begins at 7:00 p.m. with hors d'oeuvres and superb California wines.  A five-course chefs' tasting menu will be served at 8:00 p.m. Reservations can be arranged by calling the James Beard House at 212-627-2308 and are $100 per person for members of the James Beard Foundation and $130 per person for the general public. 

"We feel so honored to be invited back to the James Beard House," said Bob Zappatelli, vice president of food & beverage for Benchmark Hospitality International. "Three of our top executive chefs as well as our superb pastry chef and award-winning sommelier have planned an exquisite menu for the definitive Holiday Dinner.  We expect to set a new culinary benchmark for extraordinary holiday dining."

Mildred Amico, director emeritus for The James Beard Foundation, which is housed in the Beard House, stated, "The Benchmark chefs cooked a fantastic Holiday Dinner last year to a sell-out group of gourmands.  The chefs this year are equally wonderful and have planned a superb menu.  We look forward to Benchmark once again setting a new standard in holiday dining."    

The James Beard House was home to the Dean of American Cookery, James Beard, from 1976 until his death at 81 in 1985. The multifaceted Beard, who established cooking schools and published over 20 important cookbooks, many of which are still in print, left a legacy of culinary excellence and integrity to generations of home cooks and professional chefs. His name remains synonymous with American cuisine. 

The Benchmark Holiday Dinner Menu
for 2006 includes: 

Reception Hors d'oeuvres
Crispy 'Sandwich' of Sweet Breads
Benton's Smokey Mountain Bacon, 
Winesap Apples
50 year-old Sherry Vinegar
Pemiquid Oyster
Chili Mint Salad
Blood Orange Bellini
Venison Bresaola
Huckleberry Gastrique
Rock Shrimp 'Corn Dogs'
Mango Ketchup
2005 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma
2004 Byron Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley
First Course
Rolling Thunder Farms Celery Root Soup
Celeriac and Winter Truffle Fritters
Parmegiano-Reggiano Froth
2004 Freemark Abbey Viognier, Napa 
Second Course
Pan Seared Sea Scallop
Potato and Black Truffle Salad 
Brussels Sprouts 
Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
2005 Hartford Court Four Hearts Chardonnay, Sonoma
Third Course
Roast Breast of Squab
Savory Bread Pudding 
Cranberry-onion Marmalade  
Squab Essence
2005 Hartford Court Lands Edge Pinot Noir, Sonoma
Fourth Course
Tenderloin of Beef and Braised Venison 
Wild Mushroom Compote
Baby Vegetable Stew 
Sweet Potato and Beet Hash
2001 La Jota Howell Mountain Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa
Dessert Course
Braised Pineapple Napoleon
Toasted Brown Butter Cake 
Pink Peppercorn Caramel Sauce
2005 Kendall Jackson Late Harvest Chardonnay, California

Meet The Chefs
Dale Hawkins is Executive Chef of Stonewall Resort of Roanoke, West Virginia. 

Chef Hawkins has incorporated his childhood passion for food into Stillwaters, the renowned restaurant at Stonewall Resort.  Chef Hawkins' menu in Stillwaters reflects the four seasons, as well as local harvests while taking advantage of the availability of specialty foods from across the globe. The restaurant's cuisine is best described as New Appalachian Fare, which is a fusion of global cuisines and local ingredients embodying a regional interpretation.  Hawkins' ultimate mission is to use the freshest, high-quality ingredients for every component on the plate. 

Hawkins culinary philosophy was shaped by his early years on the family farm where gardening, baking bread and preserving food was the order of the day.  Under the tutelage of his parents and parishioners in the small community of Rock Cave, West Virginia, he developed at an early age a deep appreciation for seasonality, food and culinary traditions.   Chef Hawkins draws from family traditions like baking pies and Sunday supper. He is driven by his natural curiosity for food, cooking, preserving fruit and pickling vegetables, and joining with neighbors in an annual seasonal ritual of making maple syrup. 

All of this has instilled a deep-rooted respect for seasonality and tradition, which Chef Hawkins took with him to Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, located in Pittsburgh, where he learned the art of extraordinary cooking.  After graduating, Hawkins joined the acclaimed kitchens of Victoria and Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Beach Resort where he honed his culinary skills under the tutelage of some of Disney's finest chefs.

Executive Chef Jason Lage of Lansdowne Resort, located near Leesburg, Virginia, has nearly 20 years of progressive experience in fine dining restaurants, luxury inns and hotels, working at some of the finest establishments in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.  Chef Lage's first position at Lansdowne was in food and beverage operations for The Golf Club at Lansdowne, the resort's private golf club.  
Prior to joining the resort, Lage was executive chef at the renowned Oval Room Restaurant in Washington DC, where he received the prestigious DiRoNA (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) Award in 2004.  Before The Oval Room, Mr. Lage was executive chef and food & beverage director for The Jefferson Hotel, an historic Four Star luxury hotel in Washington, DC, located near the White House. 
Jason Lage also coordinated the opening of the Saint Basil Restaurant in Washington, DC, a 130-seat fine dining restaurant voted 'Best New Restaurant' by Washingtonian Magazine in 2000.  Lage came to the Saint Basil from the Hilton Hotel in Springfield, Virginia, where he was executive chef.   
Executive Chef Todd Wolfson of Glen Cove Mansion of Glen Cove, New York, has three decades of extraordinary culinary expertise. During his career he has worked along side renowned culinary greats, including Wolfgang Puck, Paul Prudhomme and Julia Child.  He also engaged in a three-year apprenticeship with Master Chef Stephen Rieger.  
Chef Wolfson has been responsible for dazzling culinary extravaganzas over the years. These include high-end society gatherings, major corporate events, extraordinary weddings and bar / bat mitzvahs celebrations. Three US Presidents and their Top Aids have been attended to by Chef Wolfson in separate culinary events.  

Previous to joining the culinary team at Glen Cove Mansion, Chef Wolfson was executive chef of the historic Berry Hill Plantation Resort of South Boston, Virginia.  In this role he was responsible for overseeing the entire culinary operation as well as menu development for this storied 19th Century former antebellum plantation.  Wolfson also served for a period as executive chef and food & beverage manager for Virginia Tech University.  At this time he received Certification at the Pennsylvania State University in the creation and production of superb ice creams.  Prior to this, he served as a consultant within the restaurant industry. 

Chef Wolfson invested many years of his distinguished career with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, opening and managing multiple restaurant and banquet operations as well as developing and launching new menu concepts.   During his career, Chef Wolfson has gained significant experience working with renowned figures in the fields of entertainment, the arts, national sports, and politics.  Wolfson is a graduate of Hiram College of Hiram, Ohio, and numerous culinary training programs of Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. 

Jennifer Chambers is Pastry Chef for the North Maple Inn at Basking Ridge, New Jersey.  In this position she is responsible for overseeing a full service pastry department, which serves the Inn's restaurant, lounge and banquet operations, as well as group and VIP functions.  Ms. Chambers has extensive expertise in working with chocolate confections and specialty items such as wedding and Torah cakes. 

Prior to North Maple Inn, Jennifer Chambers was Pastry Chef for the Tewksbury Inn, located in Oldwick, New Jersey.  In this position she managed lunch and dinner pastry operations and serviced numerous VIP functions.  Ms. Chambers also served as Chef de Partie for the signature property, Kingsmill Resort of Williamsburg, Virginia.  Prior to this position, she was Pastry Cook for the resort.  

Jennifer Chambers is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America of Hyde Park, New York, where she majored in Baking and Pastry Arts.  She is the recipient of the prestigious APEX Gold Award from the Convention Industry Council. Ms. Chambers is a member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs through The Culinary Institute of America.  
Mary Watson-DeLauder is Sommelier extraordinaire at Lansdowne Resort.  Ms. Watson has directed the beverage program at Lansdowne Resort for over a decade and has been recognized nationally with numerous awards and accolades.  She hosts monthly wine dinners at Lansdowne, helps direct the resort's Culinary University program alongside the property's executive chef.  She also developed and teaches a wildly popular Wine & Food Camp weekend recently featured in Southern Living magazine and presented on NBC's The Today Show.  

During the summer months, Watson tends a large formal English-style herb garden and hosts wine and herb pairing classes in the garden.  Ms. Watson is a 12-time Wine Spectator Award Winner, a Gold Cluster of Virginia Award Winner, a 15-time judge for the Virginia Wine Growers Association Wine Competition, and is listed in The Sommeliers Guide to Restaurants in America.   She is a member of Women Chef Restaurateurs, Knights of the Vine, and Society of Wine Educators.

The James Beard Foundation (, based in New York City, is the definitive culinary arts organization in the United States dedicated to showcasing American chefs' talents. It is named after the great American chef, Dean of American Cooking, and Father of American Gastronomy, James Beard, who authored over 20 cookbooks and hundreds of articles, many of which are still in print. Beard appeared on network television's first cookery program in the 1940s and established a renowned cooking school. The Foundation and The James Beard House, where chefs from around the world showcase their talents, are situated in Manhattan in Beard's original townhouse home, located in Greenwich Village. 
The mission of The James Beard Foundation is to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America's culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of the nation's culinary excellence. The Foundation is a national not-for-profit ¬ 501(c)(3) organization. According to the James Beard Foundation, all performing artists deserve a great stage: Musicians have Carnegie Hall; Opera singers have The Metropolitan Opera House; and Chefs, Winemakers and Cookbook Authors have The James Beard House. More than 20 dinners, lunches and workshops are held each month at The James Beard House to showcase culinary artists from America and around the world. 
Benchmark Hospitality International, an independent hospitality management company based in The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, operates resorts, conference centers, hotels and condominium resorts both domestically and internationally.  For locations of Benchmark Hospitality properties and for additional information, visit Benchmark's Website at  


Benchmark Hospitality International
The Woodlands (Houston), Texas

Ken Ellens
Ken Ellens Communications 
201-758-2864 / 201-758-2865-Fax

Also See: Three Benchmark Hospitality Chefs Preparing Holiday Dinner at James Beard House in New York / November 2005
Benchmark Hospitality Chefs Showcase Talents at Renowned James Beard House in New York / January 2006

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