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CPCE Spotlight: Brittney Derrick, CPCE

Our CPCE Spotlight is where professionals share their motivation behind earning the Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE). This month we are featuring Brittney Derrick, CPCE, Director of Sales & Events for The Duke Mansion.

If you are interested in being featured, please contact cpce@nace.net.



























Q. Please provide some background on your current position and organization, as well as your path to getting there.

A. I am currently the Director of Sales & Events at The Duke Mansion and have been with the organization since July 2017. I typically handle sales for corporate and non-profit events as well as working with our Development office to plan our very special donor events throughout the year. The Duke Mansion operates as a historic inn and meeting place and is one half of the non-profit organization, The Lynnwood Foundation. Our goal in business is to take funds that are earned and invest them back into this 30,000 sq. ft. mansion and 4.5 acres of property to protect and preserve this community treasure for years to come!


Q: What are your professional goals for the next 5, 10, 20+ years?

A. Yikes – after the unexpected 2020 I’ve just been in survival mode – it’s hard to even think that far ahead when we can only plan 30 days at a time right now. But big picture, I’m very fortunate that I’ve found what I love. The burnout rate in this industry is high, so I know it’s not realistic to be on the front lines in the event industry forever, but I truly have a passion for people and events. This is where my heart is and who knows what the future holds!


Q. Did you have a mentor or a group of colleagues who encouraged you to pursue CPCE? How did their encouragement help you through the process?

A. Of course – that’s what NACE is all about! At the time, our President, Cristin C. Lee, CPCE, and fellow board member, Megan Applegate both encouraged me to pursue my CPCE. I had been with NACE Charlotte for about 2.5 years when I started to seriously consider applying for my CPCE. I knew that I wanted to continue my education in this industry, so it was a decision between grad school or certification. Since I had the opportunity to attend 2 Experience Conferences by that time, plus my involvement on a local level, I knew that I had the credits needed to apply and so, the prepping began. Our chapter has purchased the study materials, so I joined forces with a fellow member to study.

Q. Any tips for future applicants of CPCE?

A. Attend all the education programs that you can, and of course, NACE Experience if possible, and then STUDY. When you think you have studied enough – study some more. But in the end, do not overthink it. There is so much you already know that you probably don’t give yourself enough credit for.


Q. Do you have a favorite food or beverage recipe you’d like to share with readers?

A. Well – my favorite surprise for all of my clients as I coach them through menu selections is to then tell them I’ve been plant-based vegan for 4 years and counting and have never actually eaten a single thing on our menu! At home, my family’s favorite comfort food is mac and cheese. Here is a recipe that I used 4 years ago to get started and have adapted to be my own now. I encourage you to give it a try!



Vegan Mac and Cheese with Nutritional Yeast

Total Time: 30 minutes

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 servings


1 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

1/2 cup Organic Nutritional Yeast

1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper, Parsley Flakes, Basil

2 tablespoons butter substitute (divided)

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (about ¼ cup)

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup unsweetened nut milk

2 cups dried elbow pasta

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs



  1. Start by making the garlic-herb breadcrumbs, if using. Place 1 tablespoon butter substitute in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add breadcrumbs, parsley, basil and the 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Toss with a spatula to evenly coat mixture with butter. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, place remaining 1 tablespoon butter substitute in a small saucepot over medium heat. Once melted, add onion and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until softened.
  4. Add flour, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and smoked paprika, and stir until combined and absorbed by the butter-onion mixture.
  5. Slowly add milk, whisking as you pour.
  6. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, whisking frequently until thickened.
  7. Drain pasta and rinse under warm water. Return pasta to the pot and set aside off the heat.
  8. Add nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper to milk mixture and whisk until smooth and combined.
  9. Pour nutritional yeast sauce over pasta and stir gently to coat.
  10. Serve immediately and top with the garlic-herb breadcrumbs.

For a heartier dish, try adding cooked sausage, peas, or broccoli. You can also adjust spices in the nutritional yeast sauce. For a spicy sauce, add cayenne pepper and chipotle. For an herb sauce, try basil, oregano, and parsley.


Get to know Brittney a bit more:

Brittney Derrick, CPCE is the Director of Sales & Events at The Duke Mansion in Charlotte, North Carolina and she has been in the Charlotte event industry for the last 8 years. She graduated from Johnson & Wales University Charlotte in 2004 with a Bachelor’s in International Hotel & Tourism Management and a concentration in Event Management. Brittney started her event career at Charlotte City Club where she had the opportunity to work with many coveted clients and events including the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She lives in Charlotte with her partner, Carl, daughter Brylie, and 2 pups, Arizona & Liam. She loves to travel, vegan food adventures, and binging crime documentaries.











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Crystal Irwin


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