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Cleveland Indians Executive Chef Cooking for Destroyer Crew at Naval Base Where His Culinary Career Began

Chef James Major of Delaware North Sportservice preparing holiday meal aboard USS Bainbridge at Naval Station Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (Dec. 11, 2009) – Cleveland Indians Executive Chef James Major, who began his career 15 years ago as a culinary specialist at Naval Station Norfolk, is set to return there Monday (Dec. 14) to prepare a holiday meal for the 280-member crew of the USS Bainbridge.

Major served in the U.S. Navy at Naval Station Norfolk from 1994 through 1997, helping serve more than 2,000 meals a day and managing the officer's dining hall and bake shop.

Today he is a regional executive chef for global hospitality provider Delaware North Companies and its Sportservice division, which is the food service partner of the Indians and more than 20 other major professional sports teams. As the top chef at Progressive Field, he oversees a culinary staff that serves more than 40,000 fans in concessions, clubs and suites on game days.

Major is also an American Culinary Federation-certified chef de cuisine (CCC) who has won several culinary awards in the Cleveland area.

Last month, Major was contacted by a friend who is a crew member of the USS Bainbridge to gauge his interest in being a guest chef and working alongside the ship’s culinary specialists to prepare the holiday meal for the crew. The Bainbridge, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, recently returned to Naval Station Norfolk from a seven-month deployment to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, where it conducted counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations.

Major quickly pursued the opportunity to volunteer his time and services to the effort. Delaware North is covering Major’s travel expenses.

“I’m honored to have been asked to come aboard the ship and help the culinary staff prepare a great meal for the crew and the officers,” Major said, also thanking Delaware North for its support. “This is allowing me to give something back to the Navy for helping launch my career.”

Major will be working with the ship’s culinary specialists, overseeing preparation of the meal and demonstrating several finishing and presentation techniques. They will use ingredients available onboard in preparing the meal, which will feature meat loaf, chicken cacciatore, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, black eyed peas, green beans, chicken and dumpling soup and focaccia.

The role will be a familiar one for Major, who as a regional executive chef often mentors other Delaware North chefs and manages culinary teams assigned to some of the company’s most complex events. Last July in St. Louis, he directed more than 15 chefs in heading Sportservice's catering of two huge parties for Major League Baseball®, the All-Star Gala and All-Star Pre-Game Party, each attended by 4,000 people.

While at Naval Station Norfolk, Major received three Navy and Marine Corps achievement medals and at one point deployed with the Marines as a field cook.

Delaware North Companies Sportservice is one of the nation’s leading food, beverage and retail management companies, providing concessions, gourmet catering and fine dining operations at more than 50 professional sporting venues, entertainment complexes and convention centers across the United States and Canada.