Being an executive chef serving large groups of people presents different challenges for Executive Chef James Hice.

“There’s a whole process we have to deal with and a little more science,” said Chef James.

He’s in charge of the kitchen at the Albuquerque Convention Center (ACC), where gatherings with hundreds of attendees come to meet and to eat. Feeding that many people presents certain unique challenges his team has to overcome.

“The main thing is how food holds up in a hot box,” said Chef James. “There’s certain ways we have to prep things and there are certain foods I will not use because the quality won’t hold up.”

Albuquerque Convention Center Executive Chef James Hice holds a dish he made

Photo Credit: Briana Salazar/Albuquerque Convention Center

Chef James grew up in Boston. He’s always enjoyed cooking, learning from his mom’s Italian heritage and his uncle who was a chef from a young age.

“I started working fast food in high school,” he said. “I was just moving myself up the ladder until I finally had a chef that mentored me and classically trained me…and then he made me drop out of culinary school so I could become his sous chef.”

Chef James been at the Albuquerque Convention Center for 22 years, focusing on serving restaurant-quality food in high quantities. One of his signature dishes is a buffalo tenderloin with a red chile demi glace paired with his take on a chile relleno: a Hatch green chile stuffed with manchego and goat cheese wrapped in serrano ham.

Executive Chef James Hice makes the final touches on a dish at the Albuquerque Convention Center

Photo Credit: Briana Salazar/Albuquerque Convention Center

But his favorite thing about working at the ACC is teaching the staff.

“I love when somebody I mentor becomes a chef,” Chef James said. “I had somebody a couple of months ago in Arizona call me and tell me that they were promoted to a catering manager and it wouldn’t have been without my guidance, so things like that are very rewarding to me.”

He also takes pride in representing Albuquerque and New Mexico.

“Sometimes we have conferences where this [the Convention Center] is the only place they get to hang out at, so I’m really proud to be the face of Albuquerque when we have our large catered events.”

@visitalbuquerque The Albuquerque Convention Center has some of the best food in the biz. Check out this dish: 7 Spiced Seared Buffalo Tenderloin Fillet with Red Chile Demi Glace. This dish is accompanied with a serrano ham-wrapped Hatch chile relleno stuffed with goat cheese and Spanish Manchego with Mornay sauce, served with duck fat roasted fingerling potatoes and grilled asparagus. #trueabq #albuquerque #gourmet #cooking ♬ original sound - Visit Albuquerque