Irving, TX (Aug. 25, 2008) – James LoCascio, Chris Vogeli, Matthew Levin and Fitzgerald Dodd – just a few of the renowned chefs who will stir up excitement at The Omni Mandalay Hotel’s first-annual Gridiron Chef Classic. The Omni Mandalay Hotel has partnered with talented chefs from Dallas and Philadelphia to host a cook-off on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 6 - 9 p.m. on the hotel’s grounds overlooking Lake Carolyn. As a build-up to the big Dallas and Philadelphia Monday night football game at Texas Stadium, the chefs will compete for bragging rights, while raising an anticipated $20,000 in funds for the James Beard Foundation supporting local scholarships for the culinary stars of tomorrow. Now the famous Dallas/Philadelphia rivalry -- and the extreme passion that coincides with it -- extends well beyond the field of battle with the chefs ready to prove that football and fine fare go hand-in-hand. 

 “This is great for the cities of Dallas and Philadelphia as we’ll find out who the true culinary champions will be,” said Diane Brown, director of educational and community programming for the James Beard Foundation. “While we are all excited about the modern day ‘clash of the culinary titans,’ we really appreciate the cities, chefs, restaurants and the Omni Mandalay for making this event happen on behalf of our foundation.”

The evening will kickoff with the grand entrance of each chef team, Philadelphia by land and Dallas by boat, waving football team flags. The chefs will huddle and then take their place at the two specially-designed Electrolux® outdoor kitchens to begin the 60-minute cook-off. Once the mystery ingredient is presented, chefs will then select other ingredients from a Central MarketSM station. Guests can watch as each team creates a signature dish utilizing the mystery ingredient, to be served as one of two main courses. Wait-staff dressed in referee uniforms will serve guests the dishes along with a signature wine pairing from Vina Robles Winery. 

Guests will also enjoy several stations with high-end tailgate food, beer, wine and martini pairings during the cook-off. During the dessert course, Omni will collect ballots from each individual guest and tally up votes to determine the final score and winning team. 

Tickets are available at the Omni Mandalay for $100 per person, plus tax and gratuity. For further information and reservation details, visit the James Beard Foundation web site or contact the Omni Mandalay Hotel at 972-869-5506.

Participating chefs include:

Team Dallas

  • Chef Scott Romano, Charlie Palmer at The Joule
  • Chef Fitzgerald Dodd, Screen Door
  • Chef Christof Syre, Café on the Green, Four Seasons Resort
  • Chef Chris Vogeli, III Forks
  • Chef Michael Jackson, Trevi’s, Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas
Team Philadelphia
  • Chef Brian Duffy, Kildare’s
  • Chef Sylvain Harribey, Chez Colette, Sofitel-Philadelphia
  • Chef Matthew Levin, Lacroix
  • Chef James LoCascio, Barclay Prime
  • Chef David Wiederholt, The Oceanaire, Seafood Room 


Founded in 1986, the James Beard Foundation is dedicated to celebrating, preserving, and nurturing America’s culinary heritage and diversity in order to elevate the appreciation of our culinary excellence. A cookbook author and teacher with an encyclopedic knowledge about food, James Beard, who died in 1985, was a champion of American cuisine. He helped educate and mentor generations of professional chefs and food enthusiasts. Today, the Beard Foundation continues in the same spirit by administering a number of diverse programs that include educational initiatives, food industry awards, scholarships to culinary schools, and publications, and by maintaining the historic James Beard House in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a “performance space” for visiting chefs.


Located on Lake Carolyn in Irving, Texas' prestigious Las Colinas Urban Center, the Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas invites guests to experience the elegance of a luxury hotel with a sophisticated Asian touch. The Omni Mandalay Hotel is a luxury hotel offering the Dallas area's largest guest room accommodations, contemporary amenities, state-of-the-art meeting facilities, full-service Mokara Salon & Spa and world-class art collection.

Omni Hotels creates compelling, memorable guest experiences by tempting the senses in innovative ways, surrounding them with a balanced blend of scents, sounds, sights, textures and tastes. Omni Hotels offers luxury accommodations at 43 hotels and resorts in leading business gateways and leisure destinations across North America. From exceptional golf and spa retreats to dynamic business settings, each location features four-diamond services, including award-winning signature restaurants, Wi-Fi connectivity and unique fitness options. Omni’s mission for total customer service is further supported by its “Power of One” program that empowers associates to make on-the-spot decisions to meet or exceed guest expectations. Guests can locate hotels and book accommodations by visiting.

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