About Us

Our Talented Team

The River Center team brings nothing but the best to our events. 

Executive Chef Diego Critelli

A native of Padua, Italy, Diego Critelli found his calling to cuisine at a young age, learning the art of cooking from his father, who opened Trattoria Ai Porteghi in Padua in 1983. Critelli began his professional culinary career at 19, serving as the restaurant’s sommelier.
He worked in Paris and the U.K. as sommelier and chef. Eventually Critelli took over as head chef and owner of the family’s restaurant, focusing on traditional cuisine from the Veneto region of Italy. His connection with Des Moines began when he attended Winefest in 2005. Diego taught classes as part of the Iowa Culinary Institute at Des Moines Area Community College. He first made Iowa his home in 2014.

Executive Pastry Chef Nik Pugmire

Chef Nik Pugmire brings over a decade of global pastry experience from luxury hotels and restaurants. As the head Pastry Chef and creative visionary for Doré Bakery, every one of his creations deliver high-quality, elegantly designed and constructed desserts that are unique, delicious, and memorable. Working alongside the Port of Des Moines group, Doré Bakery supplies extraordinary cakes and desserts to catered events around the Des Moines area, as well as Trellis Café, the Riverwalk Hub, and personal orders for special events.