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
When Shakira and Jennifer Lopez accepted the gig to perform at the Super Bowl Half Time Show in 2020, after many musicians, like Rihanna and Afro-Latinx Cardi B, turned down the offer in support of Colin Kaepernick, they were met with some strong feelings.
Many believed the iconic singers were aligning themselves with an anti-black institution, a critique that was similarly leveraged against rapper Jay Z who recently partnered with the NFL along with Travis Scott and Maroon 5 who performed at the 2019 show. In 2018 Diversity Inc reported, according to an NFL Insider, “Nobody wants to be associated with it.”
In an interview with the Guardian, the “Hips Don’t Lie” singer spoke about her decision and what it means in Trump’s America for the very first.
Shakira says performing at the Super Bowl Half Time Show is good for Latinxs.
“Well, you know, I think it’s the right thing to do for the Latino community because we’ve also been through so much in Trump’s America, with walls being built and …” Shakira told the newspaper. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate our culture, you know?”
Many began to wonder: the right thing to do for which Latinxs? After all, some are black. Nevertheless, Shakira has a semblance of a point. Increased visibility, in a time where hate crimes targeting Latinxs have reached a fever pitch, can present an alternative to the narrative of the Trump administration in which Mexicans are “rapists,” that there is a “Hispanic invasion,” and DACA recipients are “criminals.”
However, betraying one sect of Latinxs and black Americans to benefit another sect may not help promote an anti-racist agenda overall or appease her critics.
“I’m so honored to be taking on one of the world’s biggest stages in the company of a fellow female artist to represent Latinos and Latinas from the U.S. and all over the world!” Shakira said about performing. “This is a true American dream and we are going to bring the show of a lifetime!”
Some Twitter users accuse Shakira of anti-blackness.
“I am only one person, but as a Black Puerto Rican/Afro-Latina women Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, a Puerto Rican and Columbian in my opinion are engaging in anti-Blackness by performing at the #SuperBowl half time show this year,” Rosa A. Clemente, a lecturer and organizer tweeted.
Another person tweeted: “Once again, white Latinxes are happy to perpetuate anti-Blackness in exchange for proximity to & acceptance by whiteness in the US,” one user Tweeted. ” (But ya’ll should know that this acceptance isn’t real b/c its predicated on the oppression of others. A snake’s a snake.)”
While some admitted they were excited to see two Latinas take a major stage together but, nevertheless, were torn on the decision.
“I know I was happy for JLo and Shakira for being latinas performing the Super Bowl but after thinking I’m actually super upset that they said yes and we’re not willing to stand in solidarity w. CK. We (non Afro latinas) need to work harder to stand in solidarity with black folks,” another user Tweeted.
While another user took their message right to Shakira, saying : “@shakira please don’t play the Superbowl. You don’t need the money. You stood for Palestine. You need to stand in solidarity with the American black community.”
Artists boycott the Super Bowl Half Time Show in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee to protest police brutality each time the national anthem played in 2016. Fueled by the right-wing media, Kaepernick’s protest became a national controversy, causing him to be fired from the NFL abruptly. Since then, artists, including Jay Z initially, have protested the sports league.
“The majority of artists we’ve reached out to are standing in solidarity against the NFL. They do not want to be associated because of the protest that was started by Mr. Kaepernick against racial injustice and police brutality,” Gerald Griggs, VP of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP who reached out to multiple artists, told the Observer.
Jay Z was criticized for changing his mind and partnering with the organization. A move many believed was performative justice or simply put a way for Jay Z to make bank while looking like he is doing activism.
“Many black activists made similar market-based civil rights arguments through the 20th century, using the logic that wealth-building could undo the evils of racism,” Brentin Mock writes in City Lab. “None of those arguments have quite panned out for black people, as here we are in 2019 still struggling with these issues. The question is whether Jay-Z has learned from the failures of the past or if he’s simply employing more of the same.”
Needless to say, if Jay Z is going to catch heat for aligning himself with the NFL there is little reason Shakira wouldn’t.
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