The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

In case you missed this big news over holiday, I wanted to give a much-deserved shout-out to my friend – and Stonewall Resort chef – Fransicso “Paco” Aceves, who has been selected to cook at the legendary James Beard House in New York City.


He will join four other chefs from Benchmark Hospitality International (Stonewall’s parent company) to cook a seven-course holiday dinner there on Dec. 16. It’s the sixth consecutive year chefs from Benchmark properties have been invited to cook at the James Beard House. Former Stonewall chef Dale Hawkins also received the honor a few years ago.

Before moving to the Lewis County resort, Paco was executive chef at Charleston’s Bridge Road Bistro under the direction of Robert Wong. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and worked in some pretty high-profile kitchens before landing in West Virginia.

He has been a banquet chef at the four-diamond La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa in Santa Fe and sous chef at the Houston Country Club in Houston, where he trained under Certified Master Chef Fritz Gitschner. (There are fewer than 100 Certified Master Chefs in the world, by the way.)

During his tenure there, Paco was chosen by Gitschner to participate as part of the United States culinary team at the Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France, one of the world’s most distinguished culinary competitions. He also apprenticed at Handke’s Cuisine in Columbus, Ohio, where he trained under another Certified Master Chef, Hartmut Handke.

With credentials that impressive, it may come as no surprise that he’s cooked at the James Beard House before.

Way to go, Paco!

The Benchmark Holiday Dinner will begin at 7 pm on Dec. 16 with an hors d’oeuvres and wine reception, followed by a seven-course chefs tasting menu starting at 8. Reservations can be made by calling the James Beard House at 212-627-2308. The cost is $130 per person for members of the James Beard Foundation and $170 per person for the general public.   

The James Beard House was home to the storied James Beard, America’s first celebrity chef who is celebrated today as the dean of American Cookery. A gifted impresario who along with his great friend, Julia Child, led the way for many of today’s celebrity chefs, James Beard established cooking schools and published more than 20 important cookbooks, many of which are still in print.