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Crystal Bridges is open Wed. through Mon. Reserve your free, timed tickets.

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Learn More >
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CR(eat)E Food BLOG: A Day in the Life of the Director of Culinary at Crystal Bridges

Case Dighero works the crowd during a WOW event.

 Indeed, I have the dream job of any professional foodie, not just in Arkansas, but anywhere on the planet; surrounded by inspirational works, architecture, and people…I wake up every morning hitting the ground running, and I don’t stop until I’m home in bed, dreaming of food, art, and a life no less extraordinary.!

A Typical Wednesday 6 am Alarm sounds; hit snooze once, climb out of bed at precisely 6:10 a.m.  Brew coffee, turn on the news.  I have my two daughters, Lily and Georgi, two or three mornings throughout the week–Make lunches if necessary for one or both of them.

6:30 am   Wake up the girls.  Scramble eggs and make pancakes for breakfast (I stick with coffee); next, proceed to count down to time of departure every 10 minutes until we leave the house at 7:10 a.m.

latte7:45 am   After the girls are dropped off, I proceed to the nearest coffee house, usually Onyx or Mama Carmen’s in Fayetteville; order a Red Eye with Room:  Double shot of espresso with brewed coffee, finished off with honey and a splash of half and half.

8:45 am Arrive at the museum; swing by the Eleven kitchen to check on the crew.  If everyone is happy and they have what they need, there is typically an impromptu serenade to Elva and Mercedes on the pantry side, or a heartfelt duet with Roberto on the hot side of the line.  I don’t leave the kitchen until somebody laughs or giggles.

9 am Enter my office, comprise a To-Do list of things to accomplish that day.  Review previous day’s sales numbers.  Construct timeline and run-of-show for WOW event later that night.

9:45 am Meet with Eleven management and Special Event coordinators to discuss upcoming wedding and go over details and timeline.

Braised Beef Short Ribs a la Eleven.

Braised Beef Short Ribs a la Eleven.

11 am  Travel to the Great Hall to make Beef Short ribs for the Dinner Menu.  Although Eleven is chock full of great chefs and cooks, I always try to have one or two items on the menu to keep my head in the game, whether through a specific dish or perhaps a weekly special.  Plus, I like wearing an apron…if cinched just right, it can take 10 pounds off like that (snap fingers here)!

11:30 am  Host a tasting for an upcoming dinner for a large company in Northwest Arkansas; discuss parallels of food to art, logistics, wine, and any alterations to the menu.  The guest leaves happy and energized about their event.

12:45 pm  Grab a quick bite; usually a cup of soup, sandwich from Grab-and-Go at the coffee bar.

Lunch1:30 pm   Work on the lunch floor of Eleven, greeting guests, delivering food, checking on staff, and watching the flow of business.  Even on busy days it’s important for me to spend time with staff and guests alike.

2 pm   Attend Leadership meeting with directors/managers of museum.  Give presentation on Strategic Initiatives of Culinary to team, discussing over reaching goals, self-evaluations, and intentions and benchmarks for success.  Nobody falls asleep during my discussion…success.

3 pm   Break out for a three mile run on the trails and Orchard park; this is also one of the most important parts of my day, as a chance to meditate and contemplate the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Also, because of the occupational hazards of being in the food business, these daily runs help me maintain “chubbiness” rather than morbid obesity.

4:30 pm Culinary pep rally for WOW staff and volunteers.  Check on kitchen staff in the Great Hall, sample wares, lick the spoon if at all humanly possible. (Don’t worry, it goes in the sink afterward, not back in the pot!)

4:45 pm Attend the Eleven Dinner Pre-Shift Meeting.  Jay Dee Bratcher, the Eleven Front of the House Manager, typically leads this crucial, informative meeting.  I’m typically there to review, support, and to sing a song with the staff…if I’m lucky.  Lately, it’s been Selena Gomez’s “Come and Get It.”

Case Dighero works the crowd during a WOW event.

Case Dighero works the crowd during a WOW event.

5:30 pm Return to the Great Hall to greet WOW guests and host the event.

7:30 pm Return to Eleven to check on dinner service.  Have dinner with special WOW guests.

9 pm Exit museum en route to home; satisfied and energized from another extraordinary day at Crystal Bridges!

Live, Love, and Eat with Art!

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