Culinary Council

James Benson

Director of Culinary Excellence

Yale Hospitality | Yale University New Haven, Connecticut

James Benson is the Director of Culinary Excellence for Yale Hospitality where he is responsible for overseeing recipe, menu, and product development and culinary training as well as setting the culinary vision, strengthening the culinary program, developing talent, and creating innovation.

A native to California, James was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated from the Hotel and Restaurant Management School at the City College of San Francisco. Inspired and driven by his Italian roots he set off to Italy to apprentice at the best restaurants on the Riviera Ligure. Upon returning to the U.S., he joined the opening team at Le Cirque 2000 in New York. After a few years, James moved to Las Vegas to take the role of Executive Sous Chef at Le Cirque and Osteria del Circo at the Bellagio. He then joined Wynn as a member of the pre-opening team as Chef de Cuisine of Catering and Special Events. Over the course of his time with Wynn Resorts James held the positions of Chef de cuisine and Executive Chef of Catering and most recently as Executive Chef of Food and Beverage of Wynn and Encore in Las Vegas.

Throughout his career James has been a guest chef at several national and international food events, including preparing a dinner at the James Beard House, serving as a guest chef at The Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok and at the Hotel Adlon in Berlin, Germany. He received numerous accolades in publications such as Gourmet Magazine, Wine Spectator, and Grace Ormonde to highlight a few.

Culinary Tips

If you want to make perfectly crisp and nearly translucent potato chips, blanch thinly sliced potatoes with the skins on in acidulated water (8-10%) for 10 seconds, dry thoroughly, and then fry in olive oil at 350°F until crisp.