Tourism and Hospitality Industry Honors Convention Center CFO, Executive Chef

Two members of the San Diego Convention Center team were recognized at the 38th Annual Gold Key Awards ceremony on February 22, 2017 at the Town and Country Resort. 

Executive Chef Daryl O'Donnell received the James V. Cunningham Personalized Service Award.  The award, given by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, honors "the individual who, regardless of palpable pressures and demands, consistently displays - through measurable action - a willingness to serve." 

As the San Diego Convention Center’s exclusive caterer, Centerplate is renowned for its impeccable, world-class service and food. Always exceeding culinary expectations, you'll find Chef O'Donnell walking the events and interacting with guests to make sure every detail is to perfection.  His commitment to the environment and our community elevates him in the service industry.  In his kitchen, there are no garbage disposals. Instead, all inedible food waste is composted, while edible food is donated to the San Diego Rescue Mission. In 2016 alone, Chef O'Donnell's team composted 163 tons of non-edible food.  They donated 91 tons of edible food; enough to plate 227,500 meals for hungry San Diegans in need.   From sending homemade cookies overseas to men and women serving our country to coaching high school culinary groups, he shows unwavering outreach to the local community.

Sous Chef Steve McGee and Executive Chef Daryl O'Donnell making pies for Mama's Kitchen.

"It was emotional for me to see all my friends' and peers' excitement last night. Being recognized for 18 years of service for the city I love, in the building I love, for the industry that I love, truly meant a lot," said Chef O'Donnell. "I thought it was cool just to be nominated.  But to actually win an award on behalf of our entire team here, that devotes so much time ensuring each guest leaves with a positive experience, is definitely something I cherish being a part of."

Senior Vice President Finance & CFO Mark Emch was honored with the Patti Roscoe Allied Person of the Year Award by the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association. This award recognizes individuals affiliated with the tourism industry that do not work in a lodging establishment, but have shown significant industry contributions, community involvement and high quality service.

"I am very honored to have received this award from the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association based on my contributions to the hospitality industry and the San Diego community," said Emch.  "I am and will continue to be very passionate and dedicated to the betterment of our industry and our local community overall."  

Emch is key in the efforts of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation to promote transparency, helping others relate to our business and identify the convention center as a long-serving economic driver.  Emch is known for his ambition to find ways to improve not just our business, but the tourism industry as well.

Most recently, in 2016, Emch was an integral part of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation securing a historic $25.5 million state loan that is financing several infrastructure projects in the convention center, including the renovation of the iconic Sails Pavilion.  Emch worked tirelessly with the Board of Directors, other convention center staff, the State of California and the City of San Diego to create a responsible funding plan that helped launch the largest series of upgrades in the building's history.   In his personal time, Emch is extremely active in our local non-profit community.  He currently serves as Board Chair of San Diego Habitat for Humanity and Vice Chair of ACCION San Diego.

"Chef Daryl and Mark live out our core values on a daily basis and I am proud to be a part of this award-winning team" said Clifford "Rip" Rippetoe CFE, President and CEO of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation.  "It is because of their work and the work of our entire dedicated staff that we are the region's premiere gathering place."

The event was co-sponsored by the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Association and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International.  Awards were presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the betterment of the tourism industry.

Rita de la Fuente's picture
Posted by Rita de la Fuente, on February 24, 2017
Between Meetings, News and Developments

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