The person tasked with bringing the unique flavors of Miami’s rich and diverse Latino heritage to round five of the F1 season is Hard Rock Stadium Executive Chef Dayanny De La Cruz.
The 48-year-old developed her love of cooking on a chair in her grandmother’s house in the Dominican Republic.
“I remember wanting to learn how to make rice, so I asked my grandmother, ‘How can I learn it?’ I was so small, the stove was in my nose. So she picked me up and sat me in a chair and she taught me how to make rice. And I still cook my rice like this.”
Her path has not always been a straight one. In 2011, De La Cruz was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, undergoing surgery and months of chemotherapy. Despite this health scare, the experience fueled her passion for her job.
“I’m here for a reason and…I’m following my purpose. It’s a very humbling experience, but I’m so thankful that I move forward with a sense of grace in whatever I do in life, so I’m just blessed,” she said.
“I love colors and flavors”
De La Cruz has grown into the executive chef for mega sporting events in Miami.
When Super Bowl LIV came to Miami in 2020, De La Cruz became the first woman to host the NFL’s season-ending showdown.
De La Cruz oversaw thousands of kitchen workers and was responsible for feeding the players and staff of both teams, as well as planning what foods would be available at concessions, restaurants, clubs, suites and stadium vendors.
“The Super Bowl was an amazing experience, a very humbling experience,” said De La Cruz. “But it also strengthened me. We set the standards very high and I’m very proud to say that.
“At the same time, we broke the stigma that no woman has ever done a Super Bowl — that no woman has ever walked in these shoes.
“I’m very proud to have opened the door and I’m sure there will be many more like me,” added De La Cruz. “So for me, the Super Bowl was about breaking stigma and setting the bar very high. So good luck to all who come!”
In May, F1 returns to Florida for the first time since 1959 and comes to Miami for the first time ever.
With a planned capacity of 80,000 fans, this will not be an easy task for De La Cruz and her team.
As with any new sport, the 48-year-old chef strives to create a unique offering that does justice to the event’s distinctive clientele and ambience.
“When we move from sport to sport, we move our energy. [American] Football is usually one o’clock, it’s also a bit bulkier. When we switch to tennis, we switch to a softer sport, a bit more international, so we change our menus.
“We love staying local. We love supporting all of our farmers. But at the same time, I love colors and flavors, and it’s almost like you can taste it just by looking at it.
“We love what we do, whatever sport we do. Let’s see how Formula 1 will be.”
As they say in Miami: “Dale” – let’s go!