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Benchmark Hospitality International Names Kevin McGowan Recipient
of the Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship

Presented Annually in Partnership with The James Beard Foundation, New York

The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, February 2012 …   Benchmark Hospitality International has announced the recipient of the Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship.  This year’s recipient is Kevin McGowan, a student at SAIT Polytechnic School of Hospitality and Tourism in Alberta, Canada.  The annual scholarship, launched in 2009 in partnership with The James Beard Foundation in New York City, celebrates the life and legacy of the company’s first vice president food & beverage, the late Bob Zappatelli, and serves as a memorial to his unforgettable magnetism and enthusiasm for the advancement of the culinary arts.

“The reason I entered the hospitality and tourism industry, and more specifically the culinary arts,” said Kevin McGowan, “is that I love to entertain people with food.  All my life I’ve enjoyed serving people and making them happy with creative, inspired and well-executed food.  This is my passion.  I’m so grateful for the support of the Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship fund in helping me continue my culinary education.”

“This is such a fitting tribute to Bob, and Kevin is an ideal recipient,” stated Burt Cabañas, chairman and CEO of Benchmark Hospitality International.  “Kevin is a mature student, furthering his education and developing his career while also managing the responsibilities of supporting his family.  Bob would have championed him, as he did so many young chefs who were driven to success while balancing this with the priorities of home.”

Kevin McGowan is a second-year student at the SAIT Polytechnic School of Hospitality and Tourism.  An ambitious student described by his professor as “curious, creative, intelligent and diligent,” Mr. McGowan is also a married father of one daughter, providing for his family while advancing his education and career.  Amazingly, he still finds time to give back to his community by helping raise funds in support of charitable culinary and social service organizations.  Mr. McGowan’s academic success led to an invitation to join the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

The financial challenges of attending school and supporting a family are significant, and opportunities like the Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship will help Mr. McGowan and other young chefs in the future stay on track to achieve their academic and career goals.  This is a most fitting tribute to Bob Zappatelli and his continuing legacy in the culinary world.

Benchmark Hospitality Vice President
Food & Beverage, Giorgi Di Lemis;
Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts
Scholarship recipient, Kevin McGowan

The Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship Fund

The Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship, established in 2009, is presented annually in partnership with The James Beard Foundation, the definitive culinary arts organization in the United States dedicated to showcasing American chefs' talents.  The scholarship celebrates the passion for the food & beverage profession of the late Bob Zappatelli, Benchmark Hospitality International’s first vice president of food & beverage, and serves as a living memorial to his unforgettable enthusiasm in the advancement of the culinary arts.  For many years, Bob Zappatelli worked closely with The James Beard Foundation, hosting the immensely popular Benchmark Holiday Dinner each December at the James Beard House in New York City.

The James Beard Foundation provides a Scholarship Program as one of its educational pillars, to which the Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship Fund has been added.  The Fund is included in the Foundation’s catalogue of nearly 80 annual culinary scholarships the organization administers and makes available each spring for students domestically and globally.  Each spring, generous scholarships are granted via the James Beard Foundation to students at many schools of note, including the Culinary Institute of America, Johnson & Wales, and Le Cordon Bleu International. The James Beard Foundation distributes resources through the Scholarship Management Services division of Scholarship America, a respected nonprofit organization that has helped award scholarships to over one million students.  

Contributing to the Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship Fund  
Details include:
  • Donations should be made to The James Beard Foundation, with "Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship" indicated on the Memo line.
  • Donations should be sent to:
                        The James Beard Foundation
                        Attn: Marilyn Platzer, CFO
                        167 West 12th Street
                        New York, NY  10011
  • Credit card donations can also be made by calling (212) 675-4984.  Request “Special Giving.”
  • The Foundation is a 501c-3 not-for-profit charitable organization and will follow up with acknowledgment of donations to all donors for their records.
  • A scholarship will be awarded annually from the principal accumulated in the Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship Fund.
To reference “In Memoriam, A Tribute to Bob Zappetelli,” please visit:
About Benchmark Hospitality International
Benchmark Hospitality International is a leader in the management and marketing of resorts, conference centers, hotels, and Personal Luxury Resorts & HotelsSM.  The independent company, launched in 1980, is a worldwide organization operating properties in major metropolitan and resort destinations.  Benchmark's international headquarters is located in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston. Benchmark Hospitality is also a founding member of the International Association of Conference Centers.  The company's eastern regional office is in New Jersey, western regional office is in Washington, 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 / 201-951-9511-Cell

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Also See: Benchmark Hospitality Names Taylor Amara as First Recipient of the Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship In Partnership with The James Beard Foundation, New York / December 2010

Benchmark Hospitality International's Steve Kander Receives Prestigious Certified Specialist of Wine Certification from The Society of Wine Educators; Mentored by Benchmarks Chief Sommelier, Mary Watson-DeLauder / December 2010

Benchmark Hospitality International Named A 2010 “Top Work Place” by The Houston Chronicle; Places in the Top 50 / November 2010

Benchmark Hospitality International’s Hawaii Resorts Achieve Travel + Leisure’s “2010 World’s Best Awards” List as “Top 25 Resorts in Hawaii” / August 2010

Benchmark's Turtle Bay Resort A Top 25 Hotel in Hawaii for 2008 According to Travel + Leisure Magazine / July 2008

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