LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) - The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for so many of us, including the dedicated staff that serves Arkansas' most powerful couple.
On Thursday, THV 11 News received an inside look at this team from the Governor's Mansion. From inside the kitchen to the Grand Hall and the grounds outside, we covered it all to give you an up-close and personal view of the people who keep the Governor's mansion running.
It's the fourth day in a row this week of another holiday reception at the Governor's mansion. So that means there are lots of "busy bees" around this place making sure it all goes off without a hitch.
"During the holiday season, the hectic holiday season, we may work 12, 13, 14-hour days," Mansion Administrator Ron Maxwell said.
Maxwell oversees a staff of nine people and 13 prison trustees whose work goes well beyond the holidays.
"We are always on call, it's a 24-7 job basically for most of us here," Maxwell said.
"I love it. It's my best cooking job so far," Lead Chef Gilbert Alaquinez said.
Alaquinez will mark four years this April as the mansion's lead chef. He's usually in by 7:30 in the morning and most of the time he and his crew prepares food for mansion events and private guests dining with the First Family.
"For tonight it's only 90, so we'll do one block of each, but tomorrow we have a party of 350 so we will probably do up to four or five blocks a piece," Alaquinez said, referring to blocks of cheese.
When it's just the Governor and his wife, Alaquinez said that they keep it simple.
"Like I said a tuna fish sandwich for lunch, and then he does peanut butter and jelly for dinner. He's pretty easy to cook for," Alaquinez said.
Staff makes sure the outside is shining here too. On the day we came by, the Governor's dog, Viper, was "supervising" in the golf cart.
"We have a wonderful staff. Everybody pitches in when its crunch time for something, especially during the holidays," First Lady Ginger Beebe said.
Ginger Beebe said she often offers ideas for decorations and food.
"I'm always looking in the cookbooks and magazines, and they are too, and we kind of come together and kind of talk about those ideas-if this menu will work or won't," Ginger Beebe said.
It's a team effort that makes this place a family for everyone involved.
"Obviously we all work very closely, and so you can certainly call it a second family, absolutely," Maxwell said.
"You know the governor comes in and says, 'Hey, Gilbert, what's going on?' or 'How has your day been?'" Alaquinez said.
They keep things casual behind the scenes while ensuring nothing but causal when the guests take their seats.
The mansion also employs a full-time maintenance director and horticulturist and has social staff to coordinate the events there. The workers THV 11 talked to said one of the best parts of the job was seeing the diversity of people come through the mansion, everyone from former governors to dignitaries from overseas.
There is actually a chance this weekend for you to see the Governor's Mansion from the inside. They are hosting a holiday open house from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday.
Maxwell said it's best to call for reservations. The numbers to call are either (501) 324-9805 or (501) 324-9806.