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John Blansit
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.

Chris Freeman
Executive Chef 

Before coming to Fire & Ice, I spent seven years as a Chef Manager at Prime Inc.  I also worked at the Keeter Center, Big Cedar Lodge, Millwood, and Wichita Country Club.  

I like cooking different things, trying new things and experimenting when I get the chance.  I appreciate everything about food, from the way it can affect all of the senses at once to the artistry that can go into plating even a simple dish. It’s rewarding seeing people enjoy the work that you have done to prepare them a meal. 

Outside of work, I am the president of our local park board.  I enjoy spending time with my family and I bleed Liverpool Football Club Red!

A funny restaurant industry story is the time a manager at a previous place of employment forgot to do his inventory, so he ended up spending the night at the restaurant and taking a shower in the mop sink. 

I also taught the Intro to Foods Class at College of the Ozarks.  We had the kids making Coq au vin one day.  After going over the recipe with them, they took off to get their stuff together and I noticed one girl looking intently at the spice shelves. After she stood there for several minutes, I asked her if I could help her find anything.  She told me she was looking for the dry white wine.  It was all I could do to keep a straight face and point her in the right direction. My favorite thing about working at Fire & Ice is the comradery of the staff.  

DJ Ball
Sous Chef

I first got interested in cooking at a very young age. I always wanted to help my Grandmother with her baking, this is also I assume where I got my sweet tooth. As a teenager I fell in love with Julia Child, Alton Brown, and Anthony Bourdain. It wasn’t until I was two years into a major-less degree at big University did I decide that cooking could be a profession for me. I enrolled in culinary school and got my first job as a dishwasher in a very busy restaurant. I quickly moved up the ladder, finished my culinary degree and have been working in various restaurants around Springfield for the last 16 years including having my own cheesecake business for a short time.

I love cooking all types of food especially new-to-me cuisines, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for baking. It is more of a science than savory cooking and I enjoy the challenge as well the sweet rewards.

One of my biggest mistakes (which are almost always funny in the end) happened early on in my career when I first getting serious about baking cheesecakes and perfecting my method. I had just read a book given to me in which there was the inclusion of corn starch in a cheesecake recipe to “help prevent cracking”. I hadn’t ever heard of this at that time and thought I’ll give it a try. After being the oven for about thirty minutes I noticed a lot of steam escaping the oven and when I checked my cheesecake had boiled completely over the pan like a volcano. It took me a few hours of head scratching to figure out I had added baking powder instead of corn starch. Another lesson learned, don’t rush and you likely won’t grab the wrong item.

My favorite part of working at Fire & Ice is conversation and camaraderie of my co-workers. It is a special bond being in the daily battle of a professional kitchen.



Arihanna Whitlock
Service Lead

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

Monday         11AM-9:30PM (kitchen) 11PM (bar)
Tuesday     11AM-9:30PM (kitchen) 11PM (bar)
Wednesday   11AM-9:30PM (kitchen) 11PM (bar)
Thursday   11AM-9:30PM (kitchen) 11PM (bar)
Friday               11AM-10PM (kitchen) 12AM (bar)
Saturday     11AM-10PM (kitchen) 12AM (bar)
Sunday         11AM-9:30PM (kitchen) 11PM (bar)