New culinary technology program director pairs well with RCBC
Monday, Sep 20, 2021

Desmond Keefe

To say that Rowan College at Burlington County’s newest director of culinary technology is passionate would be an understatement. Desmond Keefe, who learned to cook from his mother at five years old and began working in restaurants at 15, boasts over 20 years of experience in culinary and hospitality education, previously as the culinary program director at The Art Institutes in Atlanta. Now, he’s happy to circle back to his home state.

“What is interesting is this is somewhat of a homecoming for me,” Keefe shared. “I was born in NJ and spent the first four years of my life here. My older brothers have a much stronger memory than I do, but I am very excited and happy to be back in my home state.” 

Prior to his career in higher education, Keefe spent over two decades as an executive chef in Boston and the greater New England area, working at The Bay Tower Room, Top of the Hub and Seaside Restaurant. He also served as executive food service director for the Gloucester Seafood Festival by coordinating business and non-profit organizations in a joint effort to produce the first nationally-attended Gloucester Seafood Festival. He was even featured on Netflix’s “Best Leftovers Ever,” which pits three competitors against one another to complete two challenges. In both challenges, participants repurpose leftovers into a delicious and artfully-presented dish. 

Keefe’s strengths lie in his strong leadership and collaboration skills, as well as his abilities as an organizer. Having been involved with the American Culinary Federation throughout his career, he’s served as a national board chair, a presenter and an evaluator for accreditation visits, as well as lead an accreditation self-study for his own program and coached students competing at regional and national levels for many years. 

Most recently, Keefe ventured into culinary consulting, through his company Truly Seasoned, where he helped restaurants improve their bottom line and processes. His services included recipe and menu development, kitchen staff training and food cost control. 

Keefe’s primary goal now is to expand RCBC’s culinary program and increase its applicability to current industry needs. 

“I have had great success at other institutions doing just that and plan to use my experience and networking to achieve the same here,” Keefe said. “I want to make the culinary and hospitality programs at RCBC the best in the state. I plan to connect with local businesses and create partnerships and collaborations. I will be looking at organizing events and competitions in the culinary building in the near future. In addition, I have plans to bring in visiting chefs to present demonstrations for students.” 

Although most of his hobbies involve food in some way, Keefe also enjoys traveling with his wife Carol and hiking. 

To learn more about RCBC’s culinary and hospitality programs, visit