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Benchmark Hospitality Chefs Featured at James Beard House, New York

New York, February 2008 - Benchmark Hospitality chefs from the company's restaurants, hotels and resorts in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas joined together recently at the invitation of The James Beard Foundation to cook dinner at the prestigious James Beard House in Manhattan.  This was the third consecutive year that Benchmark Hospitality chefs received the invitation by the James Beard organization. The dinner, entitled the "Benchmark Holiday Dinner," took place on December 27, 2007.

Featured Benchmark chefs included Richard Varga, executive chef, and Tom Drake, restaurant chef at The Heldrich of New Brunswick, New Jersey; Konrad Meier, executive chef and Thomas Pratt, executive pastry chef for Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, Pennsylvania; Rick Shell, executive chef at The Chattanoogan of Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Derek Fontenot, executive chef at Hotel Contessa, located in San Antonio, Texas.  Mary Watson, sommelier at Benchmark's Lansdowne Resort of Leesburg, Virginia, paired each course with wine.

The five course menu was served to over 90 guests at the James Beard House, which included members of the James Beard Foundation, members of the media, Benchmark Hospitality's invited guests, and executives from leading New York-area corporations.

L to R: Chef Zachery Lorber (Edith Macy Conference Center), Pastry Chef Thomas Pratt, Chef Richard Varga, Chef Konrad Meier, Chef Derek Fontenot, Chef Rick Shell, Sommelier Mary Watson, Bob Zappatelli, Benchmark's Vice President Food & Beverage, Chef Tom Drake, Chef Matt Pinner (The Chattanoogan). Photo courtesy of Philip Gross for the James Beard Foundation
The James Beard House was home to the Dean of American Cookery, James Beard, from 1976 until his passing at age 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 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.  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. 

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 


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

Also See: Benchmark Hospitality Chefs Invited by The James Beard Foundation to Cook at the Prestigious James Beard House in Manhattan; Benchmark Holiday Dinner, Will Take Place on December 27, 2007 / November 2007


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