Fierce

Las Jefas: JLo And Shakira Aren’t The Only Latinas Who Are Going To Leave A Historic Stamp At The 2020 Super Bowl, Meet Chef Dayanny

We don’t know who will face off in the 54th Super Bowl but we know who will be serving up delicious cuisine at Hard Rock Stadium the day of the big game and the big performance — a dominicana chef.

Meet Chef Dayanny de la Cruz the Centerplate Executive Chef of the Hard Rock Stadium who will be feeding guests with delicious sazón on Super Bowl Sunday. 

The woman responsible for coordinating the food experience for Super Bowl LIV is Dayanny de la Cruz. The mom of three is the executive chef of the Hard Rock Stadium. FIERCE recently spoke to Chef Dayanny about her beginnings, her connections with the world of food, breaking through the glass ceiling and what it’s like to design a menu that matches JLo and Shakira’s superstardom. 

Chef Dayanny was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and grew up in a home where everything happened around the kitchen table. It was the kind of childhood where her mother always insisted she eat before she play and she was able to run outside and pick ripe mangoes straight from surrounding trees. Chef Dayanny credits this early association with fresh foods and the warmth of a lively kitchen with her decision to enter the culinary world. 

She first went to school to get a degree in hospitality management from Universidad Central del Este in the Dominican Republic. It was here that she decided to move to the United States with her parents and pursue a career in culinary arts. After getting her degree in Grand Rapids, MI, the newbie chef accepted her first position in a kosher kitchen at the DoubleTree Hotel in Chicago — an experience that she says was one of the most difficult and rewarding of her career. 

It was during this time in Chicago that Chef Dayanny was exposed to the world of sports luxury entertainment. She quickly started building her resume with some of the most elite sports events in the US, such as the US open in New York, the Kentucky Derby and the NBA All-Stars. Chef Dayanny explained to FIERCE, the experience was a different challenge than what she was used to, but she was drawn to that difficult task.

Her experience eventually led her to Miami and the Hard Rock Stadium.

 As the executive chef, this means she would be in charge of the kitchen staff for each of these locations. Chef Dayanny also oversees the menus for each concession, kitchen and restaurant at the stadium, and ensures the quality of the food leaving the kitchen. Currently, the stadium has 7 kitchens, 167 suits, 7 all-inclusive clubs and 25 concession stands.

Among those responsibilities is a self-imposed rule that Chef Dayanny expects of her kitchens: to keep them extremely diverse. Listing Central America, South America, Africa and other countries as some of the sources of inspiration for the cuisine she serves, the chef explained to FIERCE that she not only includes her own Dominican flavors into her kitchens but she encourages the native flavors of her kitchen staff to be utilized as well. 

The road leading up to her high-profile career hasn’t been easy. Unfortunately, Chef Dayanna also experienced something many women — Latinas especially — experience coming up in her career.

Like in many industries, the culinary world is still very much a boys’ club. As such, women are given an especially difficult time when they enter the industry to gain experience. Sometimes the interactions are so traumatizing that women leave their industry completely to avoid facing more injustices. 

Chef Dayanny confirmed that as a Latina she bumped into the infamous glass ceiling several times before climbing up the ladder. However, it wasn’t her own struggle she was concerned about, but the struggle of the next generation of women. Acknowledging that we still have a ways to go in making strides in equality, Chef Dayanny explained, “If we are standing still, not moving forward, we aren’t clearing the way for the next generation.” 

As thrilled as she is about the upcoming Super Bowl, when asked how she feels knowing that she is somewhat responsible for feeding JLo and Shakira, Chef Dayanny left us with a reminder of what’s most important. 

Anyone who talks to Chef Dayanny can hear how much she loves to cook and how she adores food in general. So, to reach this point in her career where she receives this honor is obviously a big deal for her. In her interview with FIERCE, we hear in her voice how proud she is to land this role. While Chef Dayanny admitted she is excited about organizing the menus at the Super Bowl, for her, the real excitement comes when the party is over.

“My kids just want me to come home when it’s done. They’re excited for me but, to them, I’m just mom.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7l1R8R_A-g

J.Lo Speaks Up About The Super Bowl Halftime Show And How She Wants Girls To Raise Their Voices

Entertainment

J.Lo Speaks Up About The Super Bowl Halftime Show And How She Wants Girls To Raise Their Voices

jlo / shakira / Instagram

The J.Lo and Shakira halftime show at Super Bowl LIV was electric, powerful, empowering, and contagious. The two Latina performers gave Super Bowl viewers and audience the show of a lifetime. Latin pride was at the forefront of this year’s halftime show and there was also a strong political message because Latinos live in terrifying times.

J.Lo and Shakira used part of their halftime show to give a voice to the voiceless in the Latino and immigrant communities.

During J.Lo’s performance, her daughter Emme started “Let’s Get Loud” and the imagery struck a nerve with some viewers. Litter in front of the stage were children in orbed cages. Many have speculated that the children are a nod at the Trump administration’s immigration policies that forced children into cages and separated families.

The mother and daughter duo then covered “Born In The USA” by Bruce Springsteen and J.Lo flashed a Puerto Rican flag.

The Puerto Rican people, who are Americans, have been let down by the current administration as they try to recover from Hurricane Maria. Now, the island is recovering from devastating earthquakes. The Trump administration has actively cut funding to Medicaid in Puerto Rico as more and more people are reliant on the assistance.

J.Lo shared a video on Instagram right before the performance and included a rallying call to all Latinas and young girls around the world.

The global pop star wanted to use her performance at Super Bowl LIV performance to give people a chance to raise their voices. In a time where children are in cages, women are losing healthcare rights, and vulnerable communities are under attack around the world, these moments matter.

The Super Bowl LIV halftime show’s message is resonating far and wide.

The image of Emme “locked” in a cage while singing “Let’s Get Loud” caught everyone’s attention. Her voice, accompanied by a choir of children behind her, gave viewers a striking visual of children in cages.

Some pointed to other elements of the performance that referenced the administration’s treatment of migrants.

Credit: @HelloOElaine / Twitter

There were so many elements of the half time show that people pointed to as reminiscent of the policies devastating migrant families. The lights behind the performers interlocked in the pattern of a chainlink fence we have all seen along the border.

Some people were very much bothered by the strong Latino representation at the Super Bowl.

Pobercitos. Who knew that strong Latinas on stage showing their brown bodies and Latin dancing would trigger them?

Some people are showing the double standard that exists among performers at the Super Bowl.

Women, especially Black and brown women, are often treated to this double standard. Somehow, dancing as a brown or Black woman is overly sexual when white men are not subjected to the same scrutiny.

To top it off, let’s not forget that the Super Bowl was in Miami, a Latino enclave and the halftime performance was representative of that culture.

Credit: @ExtraLars / Twitter

Any questions?

READ: Italian Mayors Are Showing J.Lo A Lot Of Love After She Mentioned Wanting To Move To The Country

Shakira Is Famously Colombian-Lebanese And Her ‘Tongue Moment’ Meant A Lot For Middle Eastern Representation

Entertainment

Shakira Is Famously Colombian-Lebanese And Her ‘Tongue Moment’ Meant A Lot For Middle Eastern Representation

Last night Shakira and Jennifer Lopez gave us one of the most iconic halftime show performances we’ve seen in a long time. Not only did they become the first Latinas to headline a Superbowl show, they also brought out the whole Latino Gang —Puerto Rican trap super star Bad Bunny, Colombian reggaeton king J Balvin, and J.Lo’s own little girl, Emme. The show was filled with subtle cultural statements —and one of them became a viral moment. Here’s what Shakira’s tongue flicking gesture actually means. 

Sunday night’s half time show was nothing short of iconic. 

Shakira and JLo performed their biggest hits, including “Waka Waka,” “Let’s get Loud,” and a few others. They brought Bad Bunny on stage to perform Cardi B’s “I Like It,” and his own hit “Callaita,” anchored by Shak. J Balvin also joined in on the spectacle with his massive hit “Mi Gente.”

The Grammy Award-winner was just launching into her hit song “Hips Don’t Lie” when the viral moment happened. 

Shakira leaned down toward one of the cameras at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fl, stuck out her tongue and let out a high-pitched, warbling cry that instantly set the internet in flames. 

Viewers were quick to ridicule the singer, and the memes started rolling out. 

Countless memes likened her to a turkey, a petulant toddler and characters from Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants”, among a host of other unflattering comparisons. But a few of Shakira’s true fans pointed out the obvious; the sound was a nod to her Lebanese heritage. 

If you’ve followed Shakira’s career since the late 90s you might remember that the artist is inspired by her Middle Eastern roots.

Born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, to a Colombian mother and Lebanese father, the singer has drawn on her diverse cultural heritage to create her signature style —both vocally and stylistically. I mean come on, it’s her Lebanese background what inspired her belly-dancing and hip-swaying moves —duh.  

Shakira’s widely celebrated performance was full of nods to her Colombian and Lebanese heritage.

The seemingly random gesture actually carried deep cultural significance. To those familiar with Middle Eastern culture, the sound was akin to a traditional Arabic expression of joy and celebration called a zaghrouta. It was also interpreted as a reference to the world-famous Carnaval de Barranquilla, which is held in Shakira’s hometown in Colombia.

In the beginning of the 2000s Rolling Stone magazine wrote about what made Shakira stand out

“The stylistic breadth of Shakira’s music – elements of folk, Middle Eastern and traditional Latin styles over a foundation of rock and pop – gave her a degree of credibility the American teen queens lacked.” Shakira’s breakout single, which many Latinx millennials might remember from the 90s, was ‘Ojos Así’, a song heavily inspired by the middle eastern world —The Colombian even sings in Arabic. 

Her Latin sound has always been spiced with Middle Eastern elements and Colombia’s African heritage.

The salsa beats in her 2006 megahit “Hips Don’t Lie” are reggaeton-inspired, and it also has an Afrocolombian element to it. The singer she still featured a belly dancing arab-esque number in the video. The same mixture of cultures has been fed into countless of the artists biggest hits, like ‘Tortura,’ ‘Yo soy Gitana,’ ‘Whenever Wherever’, and the list goes on. Her own vocal style was also born from this melting-pot of cultures. Shakira has noted the importance of her sense of “mixed ethnicity,” saying “I am a fusion. That’s my persona. I’m a fusion between black and white, between pop and rock, between cultures – between my Lebanese father and my mother’s Spanish blood, the Colombian folklore and Arab dance…”

Shakira’s music stems from years of listening to Anglo and U.S. rock acts like Led Zeppelin, The Cure, The Beatles and Nirvana.

“I was so in love with that rock sound,” Shakira explained to BMI in 2002, “but at the same time because my father is of 100 percent Lebanese descent, I am devoted to Arabic tastes and sounds. Somehow, I’m a fusion of all of those passions and my music is a fusion of elements that I can make coexist in the same place, in one song.”

Fans praised her for including such a wide array of elements in the halftime performance. 

One person wrote, “In the melting pot that is Miami, you could not have picked a better Super Bowl act and this was a lovely touch.” Another fan tweeted: “Shakira sung in Arabic, Spanish, English. She played the guitar and the drums. She danced champeta, pop, salsa, reggaeton, son de negro, mapalé and arab dance.” The twitter user added, “And her 2-year-old songs are top 10 on USA iTunes. SHAKIRA, SHAKIRA.” 

Shakira has long been an icon for Middle Eastern Americans, especially the ones with Latinx backgrounds too.

“Shakira was all we had for the longest time,” one person tweeted. “Every Middle Eastern American, especially Lebanese, pointed to Shakira as the one entertainer with massive global appeal and popularity. To have our culture and our rhythms represented up there, even in the smallest way, is massive.”

Beyond the spectacle of glittery costumes, laser lights and high-energy dancing, the show was an impactful 15-minute-long homage to the singers’ roots. 

Shakira peppered her performance with Middle Eastern music and belly dancing while also incorporating elements of Latin American culture and traditional Afro Colombian and Latino dances. Jennifer Lopez, born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, sang her chart-topping anthem “Jenny From the Block” and later wore the U.S. territory’s flag as a reversible cape featuring the flag of Puerto Rico on the other face of it.

The show was filled with significant, yet subtle, cultural and political statements. 

While performing a remix of “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” and “Let’s Get Loud,” many young singers appeared on stage in circular cages—a subtle reference, but a possible nod to the thousands of children, most from Latin American countries, who have been detained at the border due to the migratory crisis and current administration’s family separation policy. The Puerto Rican flag flashed as the iconic Springsteen ‘Born In The USA’ song played, as if to remind viewers that Puerto Ricans are American citizens.

Lopez and Shakira’s performance was primarily a celebration of Latin American music and their own lengthy careers, but the subtle references to politics might serve as a guide for what the NFL will be like in the Jay Z era.