Four Delaware North Companies Sportservice executive chefs were featured Oct. 8 on the hit Food Network series “Chopped.” The episode was titled “Big Hitters,” a play on the fact that each runs the culinary operation at a Major League Baseball venue.
And while all four of the chefs served up dishes that went beyond the judges’ expectations – drawing a significant amount of praise – it was James Major, executive chef at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, who came out on top in the competition-based program.
Major outlasted fellow Sportservice executive chefs Cris Vazquez (Globe Life Park in Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers), Josh Distenfeld (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles) and Jessica Helms, who served as executive chef at the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium when the show was filmed.
In a three-round competition, the chefs were each given baskets filled with ingredients/food products and were tasked with creating original dishes.

Major’s winning dishes included spicy Italian sausage with sunflower seed pesto, pan-seared flank steak with pretzel popover, blue cheese horseradish sauce and port wine reduction, along with desert consisting of popcorn ice cream, blueberry churros and hotdog bun tiramisu.
“We taped the episode last year,” Major, a Cleveland native, explained to CleveScene.com in a story that can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/ll7dqp9. “We had to cook an appetizer, entrée and dessert using food in a basket. There was always a few normal ingredients and a few curveballs, no pun intended.”
Major’s victory even drew a social-media shout-out from the Cincinnati Reds’ official Twitter account.
“Congratulations to GABP Executive Chef James Major, winner of ‘Chopped’ tonight on the Food Network,” the Reds tweeted to their following of more than 334,000.
The episode will be aired again Oct. 16 at 9 p.m. ET, Oct. 17 at 12 a.m. ET and Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. ET.
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