Corporate Food & Beverage Director
I started working in the restaurant industry at age thirteen, and worked my way from dishwasher, bus-boy to waiter. Many people still remember Koi Garden in my hometown of Branson. We occasionally do cashew chicken Wednesdays at Fire & Ice, and I still draw on what I learned at this first restaurant job. Upon high school graduation, I was offered a college art scholarship, but chose not to pursue it, instead attending Texas A&M for Engineering. During college, I worked at a restaurant under a chef who encouraged me to pursue culinary instead. I took his advice, and became a Certified Chef de Cuisine at age 27 and onto a Certified Executive Chef at age 29.
I spent ten years with John Q Hammons Hotels, working in Missouri, Kansas, Florida, Texas, and Montana, and serving on a taskforce for opening new properties. I have been in my current role as Corporate Food & Beverage Director for 6 years, and I oversee operations for Fire & Ice, the Oasis Hotel & Convention Center, and Prime Northstar Grille in two locations- Springfield and Pittston, PA.
I find myself drawn toward the classic French style of cuisine, with its rich sauces and heavy handed butter and cream usage. I think it’s fun to infuse with other types of cuisine. One thing I really enjoy about cooking is the instant gratification of taking raw ingredients and making something people enjoy, and knowing immediately that you’ve made them happy.
Though I didn’t pursue that art scholarship, the culinary field gives me an outlet for my artistic side. In addition to creating new dishes, I also enjoy making ice carvings. I even get to throw in the engineering background, using chainsaws, chisels, and grinders to create a unique sculpture from the ice block. Ice carving is really quite simple- the finished carving is already in the ice, you just have to remove the part that doesn’t belong!
When I’m not at Fire & Ice, I enjoy being a hobby beekeeper. I also enjoy beer and wine making, and love spending time at my family’s distillery, Copper Run. My wife has a local dance studio so we find ourselves traveling often. I enjoy trying many different restaurants while we travel, and when I eat something that I like, I have a knack for recreating it back at home.
One thing I think about often, is the blessing that is said over a meal. You often hear, “Bless this food, and bless the hands that prepared it.” I think of the way I have been blessed throughout my career and this connection with those that prayed for me, and it’s one that I am extremely grateful for.
Ward Daughters, CEC, CCE
In 1984, I graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and began a long career. I left Missouri over 40 years ago and have traveled around most of the Southwest developing my skills. I have been a chef in Colorado, New Mexico, California, Iowa, and most recently in Las Vegas, Nevada. After working as an Executive Chef for many of the casinos, I began teaching at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. There I also finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Business with an emphasis on Hospitality Management. Soon though the casinos called me back and my last position in Vegas was as an Assistant Executive Chef at Caesars Palace.
Many years ago, I found a passion for cooking. It was the one thing I truly loved. My father always told me to find something I loved to do and then find someone to pay you to do it. Fortunately there have always been those that needed someone to prepare good food in the world.
I have been with Fire & Ice since 2011. My Bachelor’s degree is in Technical Theatre, but I have been cooking since I could walk. I grew up on a farm in the country, so gardening and cooking all of our meals was a way of life that I learned from my Grandma and Mom. It’s just something that sticks with you. I made the decision I wanted a career in this field, and went back to school and graduated in 2012 from the Culinary Arts program at Ozarks Technical College.
In a way, my theatre background can still be used, because working in an open kitchen IS kind of a show. Of course the Wok station is a show in itself, with the fire soaring, but we are the biggest open kitchen in Springfield… all of the chefs are in view of the entire restaurant. You’re on a stage and you have to be on your game, on point. I love the open kitchen because it gives an instant gratification for me to look out and see guests enjoying the food I prepared.
I love southwest flavors and oriental flavors, but my favorite thing to cook has to be comfort foods, because of the feeling it gives you. The comfort food aspect of something like a pot roast or braised short ribs can take you right back to Grandma’s house. I like to infuse that feeling into my cooking.
I am the daytime Sous Chef at Fire & Ice, but at the Oasis/ Fire & Ice, we are all one culinary family and I help in any kitchen that needs it- breakfast, convention, or Fire & Ice. That’s one of the things I love about working here, we have a broad range of culinary talent and knowledge between the two kitchens and can tap into that whenever we need to. The staff is my family, and I spend just as much (or more) time with them than I do my own family. They are my brothers and sisters, and we know each other’s ins and outs, and how to motivate each other.
When I am not at Fire & Ice, you can usually find me watching baseball. I have my grandfather to thank for making me a Cardinals fan when I was two years old! I still enjoy gardening, and have been an active member of the American Culinary Federation since 2012. I enjoy judging Missouri Pro Start competitions with the ACF because it gives me a chance to meet people from all across the world. At the end of the day, the global culinary community is a lot smaller than you think. It’s a very tight knit community and one I’m proud to be a part of.
I have always loved the restaurant industry. I started working in restaurants at the age of 16 as a hostess, and have done every job imaginable in the restaurant- I can even cut meat! I run the front of the house at Fire & Ice as our Service Lead. My favorite thing about working here has to be my work family. Some are employees here, and others are regulars who I’ve gotten to know through the years. I love meeting new and interesting people each day, and the restaurant being inside a hotel lends to many opportunities for that!
Address: 2546 North Glenstone
Springfield, Missouri 65803
Located inside the Oasis Hotel
Phone: (417) 522-7711
Available for DELIVERY on the carGO app!
Monday 11AM-9:30PM (kitchen) 11PM (bar)
Tuesday 11AM-9:30PM (kitchen) 11PM (bar)
Wednesday 11AM-9:30 PM (kitchen) 11PM (bar)
Thursday 11AM-9:30PM (kitchen) 11PM (bar)
Friday 11AM-10PM (kitchen) 12AM (bar)
Saturday 11AM-10PM (kitchen) 12AM (bar)
Sunday 11AM-8PM (kitchen) 9PM (bar)