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