Graduates of CNM: Jim Griego

Jim studied Culinary Arts at CNM and was recently hired as the executive chef at Isotopes Park
May 04, 2022

If you head out to a game at Isotopes Park this summer, you might notice a few new items on the menu. There’s the Green Chile Philly, the Chicago Dog-inspired Wild West Sausage, and the I-Chee-Wa-Wa BBQ Sandwich. All three are the creation of Jim Griego, a graduate of CNM’s Culinary Arts program and the stadium’s newest executive chef.


For Jim, an Albuquerque native who grew up watching the Dukes play at what was once the Albuquerque Sports Stadium, the executive chef position is something of a dream come true.


“When this used to be the Dukes’ stadium, as a kid I always thought to myself that I’d love to work here one day,” Jim says. “So my high school dream actually did come true.”


Before going into the food industry, Jim spent nearly a decade working in the corporate world as an information management contractor. However, his passion for food and customer service eventually led him to enroll in the Culinary Arts program at CNM in 2009.


“I decided that I wanted to do something that’s meaningful to me and I’ve always liked food. Food makes people happy and it makes every occasion better,” Jim says.


While still attending CNM, Jim was able to land his first job in the food and beverage industry as a bar manager at Sandia Resort and Casino. He says he landed that job after one of his instructors encouraged him to reach out to Sandia’s food and beverage director as part of an assignment.


“The entire staff and faculty at CNM were very supportive,” Jim says. “Not only did they want to see you succeed in class, but they also wanted to make sure that when you actually went out into the field you had all the tools you needed.”


Jim graduated with his associate degree in Culinary Arts in 2012. Since then, he has worked as a culinary manager at PF Chang’s and Bonefish Grill and served as executive chef for Presbyterian Hospital. He was even nominated for the New Mexico Restaurant Association’s Chef of the Year Award in 2019 before being hired earlier this year by Spectra, the company that runs concessions for Isotopes Park.  


As the stadium’s executive chef, Jim’s had fun coming up with creative new menu items such as the Wild West Sausage, which features a meat choice of alligator, duck, elk, or a rattlesnake-and-rabbit mix. His personal favorite is the I-Chee-Wa-Wa BBQ Sandwich, which consists of barbecue pulled pork layered with green chile and nacho cheese.


“Something that’s really important to me is making sure we use as many products as possible that come from New Mexico,” Jim says. “I’m a big supporter of New Mexico agriculture and this is a perfect venue for it, so that’s one of things that I’m trying to do.”


Looking ahead, Jim is excited to continue exploring different types of cuisines and flavors. He also hopes to expand the stadium’s gluten-free and vegetarian offerings, and says his eventual goal is to get to the point where Isotopes Park is known across the country as a must-visit food destination.


Ultimately though, it’s Jim’s desire to uplift and serve his fellow New Mexicans that he cites as his greatest motivation.


“We have tremendous opportunities here in New Mexico. I think a lot of people don’t realize there is so much help out there,” Jim says. “If you’re willing to put in the effort and ask for help, you can do amazing things. We all need to support each other.”