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Five Benchmark Hospitality International Chefs Featured
at New York’s Renowned James Beard House


Benchmark Holiday Dinner Honors Bob Zappatelli

New York, January 2010 … Five executive chefs from Benchmark Hospitality International, one of the nation’s leading independent hospitality management companies, cooked the fifth annual Benchmark Holiday Dinner recently at the storied James Beard House in New York City.  The dinner honored the memory of Bob Zappatelli, Benchmark’s beloved first vice president of food & beverage, who passed away unexpectedly last May.  Mr. Zappatelli was instrumental in Benchmark’s active involvement with the James Beard House over the years and together with the five chefs had planned the evening’s menu. 

The culinary event featured Benchmark Hospitality chefs Hector J. Morales, Jr., executive chef for the landmark Turtle Bay Resort and its signature restaurant 21 Degrees North, North Shore, Oahu; Peter Csikos, executive chef, The Heldrich Hotel & Spa and its signature restaurant, Christopher’s, New Brunswick, New Jersey and David Rodriguez, executive chef at Costa d'Este Beach Resort and the property’s acclaimed restaurant, Oriente, Vero Beach, Florida. 

L-R:  Benchmark Hospitality International chef in James Beard’s kitchen, James Beard House (L to R):  Francisco Aceves, David Rodriguez, Hector J. Morales, Jr., John Billings, Peter Csikos.  Not pictured, Mary Watson, Chief Wine Officer, Giorgi Di Lemis, Vice President Food & Beverage.  Photo credit, Eileen Miller.
Also featured were John Billings, executive chef for Eaglewood Resort and its restaurant Burnham’s, Chicago, Illinois; and Francisco Aceves, executive chef of Stonewall Resort and Stillwaters Restaurant, Weston, West Virginia.  Mary Watson, Benchmark Hospitality’s Chief Wine Officer, paired each course with fine wines, including her Signature Blend, “Mary’s Cuvée,” produced by the award-winning Corcoran Vineyards, located in Loudoun County, Virginia.

The James Beard Dinner also introduced Giorgi Di Lemis, who joined Benchmark Hospitality International last October as the company’s new vice president food & beverage.

The Benchmark chefs cooked for a full house of over 80 guests, including James Beard Foundation members, several members of the national press, executives from leading New York-New Jersey-Connecticut corporations, and Benchmark Hospitality International's invited guests, which included Mr. Zappetelli’s family.  Last June, Benchmark established the Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship in partnership with The James Beard Foundation 

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, 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 is a leader in the management and marketing of resorts, conference centers, hotels, and Personal Luxury Hotels™.  The independent company, launched in 1980, is a founding member of the International Association of Conference Centers.  Benchmark Hospitality is a worldwide organization operating properties in major metropolitan and resort destinations.  Benchmark's international headquarters is located in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston.  The company’s northeast regional office is in New Jersey, with international offices in Tokyo, Japan, and Santiago, Chile. For the location of Benchmark’s properties and additional information, visit 


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

Also See: Benchmark Appoints Hector Morales Executive Chef at Turtle Bay Resort; A Former Chef to the King of Norway / September 2006
Benchmark Hospitality Appoints Peter Csikos Executive Chef for The Heldrich Hotel & Spa in New Brunswick, New Jersey / March 2009
Benchmark Hospitality International Names Francisco “Paco” Aceves Executive Chef at Stonewall Resort / March 2008

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