Center Stage at the Alhambra with Chef DeJuan Roy

While growing up in Chicago, Chef DeJuan Roy knew what he wanted to do with his life. He spent his teens working in the kitchens of various restaurants, and joined the Army as a cook.

While stationed in Europe, he began to successfully compete in culinary Olympic events – and enjoyed it so much that he knew the direction of his life would be creating culinary masterpieces in restaurant kitchens.

After returning to Chicago, he attended culinary school and worked in some restaurants. During that time, he met the love of his life, who was attending graduate school in the Windy City. When she got homesick for her family in Jacksonville, he followed her here. And for the last twenty-five years, he and his family have called Florida home.

“I love Jacksonville,” says Roy, who for three and a half years has been overseeing the kitchen at Alhambra Theatre & Dining, which he enjoys, because it provides a different type of career challenge. “I’ve cooked so many different kinds of cuisines and enjoy that, but my favorite is anything seasonal and fresh,” he says.  What’s different about being a chef in a dinner theatre versus a restaurant? “We seat almost four hundred people at once,” he says. “We have eight performances a week, Tuesday through Sunday, with matinees on Saturday and Sunday. As it turns out, we probably feed more people than most places in the city.”

“We used to have a buffet here,” he says. “I didn’t like that because by the time people got back to their seats, their food may have been cold or lackluster or it just didn’t leave a lasting impression.” The menu changes with each show, and is designed to complement the show. “When a new show starts, we put on our creative hats and see what kind of food we want to pair with the show,” he says.

Performances run anywhere from five to eight weeks, and the menu stays the same for the duration. Before a show begins, menu items are created and then sampled by the owner and staff. “Laymen” are also brought in from time to time to get their opinion, and the tastings are a part of a season partnership package. “We’ll cuss it and discuss it, and figure out collectively in which direction we should go with it,”

Chef Roy says. “We get the job done and we have a good time while we’re doing it.”

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