San Diego Native Daryl O'Donnell Promoted to Executive Chef

Bringing over 20 years of industry experience to the table, Chef Daryl O’Donnell has been promoted to executive chef of the San Diego Convention Center’s exclusive food and beverage provider, Centerplate. A native San Diegan and veteran in the kitchen, he has been with Centerplate for 14 years, most recently serving as senior executive sous chef at the facility.

“We are pleased to promote Daryl O’Donnell,” said Nancy Murgillo, Centerplate’s general manager. “Being mentored under former executive chef Jeff Leidy, Daryl comes with an intimate skill set and knowledge of our business niche in high volume, high quality food preparation, planning and executing extraordinary events.”

“Chef Daryl’s culinary expertise is immense and his training has been top-notch. We look forward to continuing to share Centerplate’s exceptional food and beverage services with our clients through his leadership,” said Carol Wallace, the San Diego Convention Center Corporation’s president and CEO.

We recently chatted with Chef Daryl to get to know the person behind the apron a bit better. Read about his most memorable moments, his home cooking and even his favorite local brewery.

Being a chef at the convention center for 14 years, what event stands out as most memorable to you and why?

My most memorable event would be Oracle in 1999. It was my first show after only working at the convention center for three short weeks. It was for 6,000 attendees - breakfast, lunch and dinner for four days straight. It was the first time I had ever worked an event of that magnitude.

Centerplate has received numerous accolades over the years from the industry and community. What do you attribute as the key ingredient to its success here at the convention center?

Feeding thousands of attendees at one time is never a simple task but our team has it down to a science. I believe that our success has always been contributed to having a solid team, keeping up with current trends, consistency and our team's attention to detail.

As a San Diego native, what is your go-to local restaurant?

It really depends on the occasion and mood but I have fond memories of going to Anthony’s Fish Grotto on the bay for seafood or fish and chips in our family boat. For special occasions, I gravitate towards Primavera Ristorante in Coronado or Nobu downtown. Although if you ask my two sons, they would tell you it’s Islands!

I enjoy having a cold Wreck Alley Imperial Stout or Fullsuit Belgian Brown Ale when it’s in season at Karl Strauss.

If we were invited to your home for dinner tonight, what would we most likely be eating?

Our household favorite is prime rib and roasted fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus and homemade garden salad with herbed vinaigrette - all freshly picked from my backyard garden. For dessert we would have strawberry shortcake.

When you’re not in the kitchen, what do you do for fun?

Any and all outdoor activities. My family is always on the go, either boating on San Diego Bay, hiking and going for family bike rides around Mission Bay. I also coach my son's sports team.

Whether you are hosting a group of 60 or 6,000, contact Centerplate to create a crowd-pleasing meal prepared by Chef Daryl and his team.

Posted by Marit, on June 21, 2013
Attendees, Meeting Planners, News and Developments

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