Michael Jordan's Steak House
An experienced chef who has honed his craft on the job at restaurants throughout the country for the last 20 years, James O’Donnell brings a culinary passion and attention to detail to his role as executive chef at the new Michael Jordan’s Steak House in Chicago.
Born in New Bedford, Mass., and raised in San Diego, most of O’Donnell’s earliest memories involve the kitchen and cooking. “My mother was a great cook who prepared meals for the family, and my father loved to bake,” he explains. “I was also fascinated with PBS cooking shows like ‘The Galloping Gourmet’ and ‘Julia Child.’”
O’Donnell’s first job as a teenager was in the kitchen of a local steak house, where he learned the ins and outs of the trade. Within six months, he began doing prep work and soon after became a line cook.
Realizing his passion for cooking, O’Donnell moved to the emerging restaurant mecca of Las Vegas and managed kitchens at Caesars Palace and New York New York. In 1997, O’Donnell was scouted by House of Blues Los Angeles and became the venue’s executive chef, working there for the next three years, followed by a stint at China Grill’s rumjungle in Las Vegas.
In 2001, he met Cornerstone Restaurant Group CEO David Zadikoff, who hired him as executive chef of Michael Jordan’s Steak House at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. “I love working with James,” Zadikoff says. “He is an intelligent, passionate chef who brings creativity and personality to his menus.” O’Donnell continued working as the group’s director of culinary operations from 2003-05. In 2006, he pursued the opportunity to become partner and executive chef at The Capital Grille in Jacksonville, FL.
After five years, O’Donnell is once again working with Cornerstone—this time as the executive chef at Michael Jordan’s Steak House at the Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile. “Our menu honors the traditions of a true steak house, while going a bit outside-the-box.” he explains. “Instead of serving steaks à la carte, we plan to have fun and complement them with seasonal ingredients and interesting sides.”
Now living in Chicago, O’Donnell enjoys reading, tennis, and spending as much time as possible with his wife, son and daughter.