As the Executive Chef for Centerplate at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Desiree Neal oversees all culinary operations in the Center. A creative visionary and self-proclaimed food enthusiast, Chef Desiree views the kitchen as the starting point to bring together all cultures and walks of life in celebration of food and drink.
A native of Seattle, Chef Desiree found her calling at an early age when her father introduced her to cooking so she could help with responsibilities at home. By age 15, she successfully prepared Thanksgiving dinner for her family and knew then that she enjoyed delighting guests with delicious food. Despite humble beginnings in food service kitchens, Chef Desiree steadfastly followed her passion. Her culinary journey has included positions of increasing responsibility in restaurant, executive conference center and now convention center venues.
Constantly inspired by the variety of guests who visit the Convention Center, Chef Desiree and her team relish learning new recipes and creating custom menus for special events. They consider them an adventure and opportunity to showcase the region’s natural flavors.
Centerplate is a verified participant in the Food Recovery Verified Program. This program recognizes food businesses that are working to fight waste and feed people through food recovery by donating surplus food to hunger fighting non-profit organizations. Participation in food recovery diverts large amounts of food from landfills and provides much needed support to food insecure individuals.
In the spring of 2008, the Centerplate culinary team at the Virginia Beach Convention Center decided to try their hands at growing a small fresh herb garden. They started with throwing some plants in the ground to see how they would grow and over the next couple of years it steadily expanded with Chef Desiree Neal and her team managing the upkeep.