Meet Chef Joseph Cameria

Meet Chef Joseph Cameria

Executive Chef Joe Cameria brings experience and culinary arts expertise for healthy and pleasurable eating for the guests of Spirit in the Desert. Chef Joe is responsible for supervising kitchen operations, creating a varied menu for an increasingly diverse clientele, and directing and training a staff of six. He is also an instructor in the well-known Classic Cooking Academy in Scottsdale and finds time for a side baking business.

Joe said, “Sometimes guests who are new to Spirit in the Desert expect a retreat center to serve camp food. That is not a description of what we offer. We want to give them more than they expect.” Joe returned to Spirit in 2016 and set about revamping and rotating menus, adding what he calls “moderate Southwestern cuisine,” as well as Italian, Mediterranean and Asian dishes.

With several college degrees, including an MBA, Joe was teaching math to middle school students when he decided to act on his life-long interest in cooking and baking and become a fulltime chef. When asked what excites him about food planning and preparation, he said it is the fact that every day is a busy challenge. He likes meeting new people and figuring out their eating needs and desires.

He said one of the challenges at Spirit in the Desert is learning about the people before they arrive on campus. With guests from all over the U.S., and recently from 41 countries, Joe works hard at anticipating and discovering preferences and diet restrictions.

Asked to describe, “Culinary arts,” Chef Joe said, “It is the whole thing, the quality and taste of the food, and what you see when it is presented. It is a creative process and product.”

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