It only seemed fitting to feature Delaware North’s executive chef at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, James Major, who led the company’s culinary efforts at last week’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game festivities.
Major, who’s known equally for his passion for cooking as he is for his personality, carved out a bit of time after a busy week to discuss his culinary journey.
Words that describe you
Fun-loving, happy and energetic.
Words that describe your food
I love all food, but I love to take old favorites and put a spin on them. So, with that said: whimsical and fun…never serious…food’s fun!
How long have you been with the company?
I am on my ninth baseball season. I started in Cleveland with the Indians [at Progressive Field] and today I’m keeping it in Ohio by being the Cincinnati Reds’ chef.
What is your favorite moment at Delaware North?
Wow. I have had the chance to experience so many wonderful events – from NHL, MLB and NFL playoffs to five different All-Star Games in soccer and baseball…to working the Super Bowl. But if you’re making me pick the favorite moment, it’s this week while hosting the 2015 All-Star Game here in Cincinnati. I took a break to take in the opening ceremonies, when they were singing the National Anthem (my favorite song), and it hit me that over a year of planning has come to the end and the wonderful job done by all marked the culmination of all the previous events at Delaware North that help to make this a great one. Just then, the jets flew over and a sense of pride came over me, and I’m so grateful that I get to be a part of all this and touch so many people.
What is the craziest thing you've ever eaten?
What is your favorite food?
My Italian grandma’s pasta Bolognese and my Croatian grandma’s desserts.
What is your least favorite food?
There’s not much I don’t eat, but smoked salmon and capers…yuck!
What is the hardest cooking lesson that you ever received?
When I first started in the business, I got to be a part of a huge event. We did awesome and as we were celebrating, the chef said, “Good job, but tomorrow we have to do it again. And you’re only as good as your last meal!” I know it’s an old saying, but I still use that philosophy to this day.
Who are you heroes (cooking or otherwise)?
I believe it takes a village to raise a chef and these are the people who made me who I am…I’m going to break it down.
As a kid: Batman and Superman.
In school: Indiana Jones.
High school: My first boss, Greg Federico, who taught me to LOVE what I do.
Navy: Senior Chief Olson and Petty Officer 1st Class Bryson, who pushed me to the very best at everything and to never give up.
Culinary school: Chef Fred Brash and Chef Mark Ainsworth, who were good role models and teachers.
Restaurants: Chef Vid Lutz and Joe Santisusso, who taught me fineness.
Delaware North: Joe Sims and Don Dierig, who always look out for me and taught me the sports business.
Life: My wife, who forever is there by my side.
PHOTO CAPTION: James Major (right) had the All-Star Game spirit, styling his mustache and sporting the same hat as Cincinnati Reds mascot Mr. Redlegs. The Reds, of course, hosted the 2015 MLB All-Star Game.