Virginia Beach, Va. – The historic Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach faced demolition had the city not stepped in to help fund its renovations, and the thought of it coming down hit particularly hard for the family of the Bertram Anderson. Anderson was the first African-American head chef at the Cavalier from 1958-1970.
“He gave a lot of his life to the Cavalier,” said Anderson’s stepdaughter Tina Warren. “Food and cooking was what he just enjoyed.”
“How he learned to actually cook was in the Army,” she said. “He was in France and he learned a lot about French cooking.”
Old photographs brought tears to her eyes.
“He put his heart and soul into his job there,” she said.
Warren and her husband Sam feared Anderson’s legacy would be lost when talks of demolishing the old Cavalier made the headlines.
“It’s so many like Mr. Anderson that fall through the cracks,” he said. Warren reached out to NewsChannel 3 hoping to surprise his wife with a tribute to her dad.
“We haven’t forgotten the trail you blazed,” he said.
Even though Anderson was head chef, he wasn’t allowed to eat in the dining where guests enjoyed the very food he prepared.
“He would have us in his office and serve us dinner,” she said.
Warren said her dad gave everything he had to the old Cavalier until his dying day in 1970.
“The day he died he had gone to work and he became ill, and he came home and suffered a stroke and died,” she said.
Decades have passed but the memories of Anderson are ever-present in his stepdaughter’s heart and the halls of the old Cavalier Hotel.
“I just think it meant the world to him,” she said.