Chattanooga Convention Center executive chef is back from the Grammys

Contributed Photo / Geoffrey Joynt is executive chef at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Contributed Photo / Geoffrey Joynt is executive chef at the Chattanooga Convention Center.


Chattanooga Convention Center executive chef Geoffrey Joynt will be in Louisville, Kentucky, next week preparing food at a tractor show. If that doesn't sound particularly glamorous, consider that he was in Los Angeles last weekend working the Grammys.

Sunday night, from a hotel room in Louisville, he'll be cheering on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII "since Travis Kelce has helped my fantasy team so much in years past," he said in a phone interview.

He'll be partly watching the game from a chef's perspective. He has an expert's understanding of what it takes to feed crowds that size, or at least the logistics involved in scaling up to crowds that size.

 

Joynt, 44, is employed by Levy Restaurants, a Chicago-based hospitality company that provides food and beverage service at more than 200 properties nationwide, including Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, where the showdown between the Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will take place.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga Convention Center outsources its food services)

Up to 72,000 fans are expected to fill the stands, skyboxes and luxury suites. According to various media outlets, the VIPs will dine on wagyu hot dogs, crab legs and surf-and-turf nachos made with filet mignon and lobster, among other indulgences. Concession stands will serve up such options as baked potatoes stuffed with seafood and mac and cheese, chicken tenders with waffle fries, and jumbo grilled doughnuts.

Joynt's trip to Los Angeles last week saw similar culinary feats for the celebrities attending the 66th annual Grammy Awards and the MusiCares gala honoring rocker Jon Bon Jovi, held at Crypto.com Arena and the Los Angeles Convention Center. As is customary for high-profile events, chefs from other cities flew in to support the Los Angeles culinary team, Joynt said.

"Basically, because it's such a large event that's so high-volume and so high-end, Levy will bring in support staff from other properties in the United States," Joynt said.

"It's definitely an honor," he said of being pulled into service. "I'm humbled to have been asked."

Joynt said he worked Thursday through Sunday, logging roughly 13 hours on duty each of the two event days. The MusiCares banquet Feb. 2 fed 2,400 people, he said.

"We were prepping food for that event and multiple other events taking place at the same time," he said. "The governor (Gavin Newsom) and other people were there for other events. That was Friday. Saturday, we prepped all day for the Sunday night awards ceremony."

A team of chefs handled food for the suites, skyboxes and concessions during the Grammys, "an impressive spread of hand-rolled sushi and seafood, cocktails, you name it," Joynt said.

He and other chefs helped oversee an after-party for about 5,000 people.

"We had an incredibly large area set up with multiple food stations and food trucks inside," he said.

"It takes an army to do what we do," he said. "I was in a leadership role because I'm an executive chef, and I was partnering with other executive chefs and a massive team under us that we guided through it."

Among his contributions were crab croquettes, a nod to his native Florida. He came back impressed by the array of cultures represented in the LA food scene and liking a vegan dish he plans to add to his menu.

"Most of the things were decided well in advance; the menus were already set," he said. "We were coming in to help them prep the food, put finishing touches on and make sure everything goes out on time. But we did have the liberty to put our spin on things, with the food or the plating and presenting."

While Joynt didn't interact with any celebrities, he was in the dining room while singer Sammy Hagar rehearsed.

"I was within 20 yards of him," he said. "That was pretty neat."

When Bon Jovi arrived with his guests for the MusiCares banquet, they were escorted through a back entrance near the kitchen. Melissa Etheridge, Jelly Roll, the Goo Goo Dolls and Shania Twain were among the celebrities singing hits by the honoree during the tribute.

"(Bon Jovi) performed with Bruce Springsteen, and sitting right in front is Paul McCartney, and knowing I just fed them was pretty cool," Joynt said.

Joynt said he allowed himself only a few peeks at the front of the house as the evening progressed, knowing the star-studded weekend will likely be a highlight of his career.

"You have to be very professional and just kind of focus on your task at hand," he said.

He said he was hoping to see Usher at the Grammys, but he'll settle for the Super Bowl halftime show by the R&B legend and former Chattanooga resident.

"I was kind of thinking in the back of my mind how cool would it be if he was there and saw 'Chattanooga' on my chef coat," Joynt said.

Next week in Louisville, he'll provide an extra hand for two big events at the Kentucky Exposition Center: the Championship Tractor Pull and the National Farm Machinery Show. Executive sous chef Robert Spier will oversee the Chattanooga kitchen in Joynt's absence.

"Without him, it would have been very difficult for me to have traveled to Los Angeles," said Joynt, who has been the convention center's executive chef a little more than a year.

Joynt said he operates with a full-time staff of about 12 and can request extra help from Levy for his own big events.

(READ MORE: Consultant lays out options for future of Chattanooga Convention Center)

"When we had the Chattanooga (Area Leadership) Prayer Breakfast, we brought two chefs in from other properties to help," he said. "That's a real big event for us -- 1,900 people -- and it starts at 6:30 a.m."

Contact Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6281.


 
 



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