Lots of Disney Parks Blog fans stopped by to say hello at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival this past weekend as I was on the “Spotlight Stage” in the Festival Welcome Center to talk about the Disney cookbooks, sharing stories about how the books come together. Along with cookbooks, I also shared “kitchen secrets” from some of Disney’s award-winning chefs. Here are some of the best:
- Chef Frank Brough, The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, never cooks without fresh herbs (his favorite is cilantro). Store herbs for up to five days in the fridge wrapped in a barely-damp paper towel and sealed in a zip-top bag. Chef Tim Keating from the Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s BoardWalk says you can delete extra salt if you season instead with lots of fresh herbs. And Chef Phillip Ponticelli at Cítricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa recommends basil, “easy to grow and adapts well to container gardening.”
- Chef Robert Adams in Magic Kingdom Park shares a technique that guarantees deliciousness: When grilling or roasting meat, cook it just under doneness, for instance, medium rare if you want it medium. Remove from the heat and let it rest on a platter before serving. Grilled steaks need about five minutes; a 10-pound roast needs about 30 minutes. The resting process keeps juices in the meat instead of on your cutting board.
- Chef Robert Getchell, Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village, says never, never use ground black pepper for cooking. “Purchase or repurpose a small coffee grinder, buy whole black peppercorns and grind them in small quantities, about a quarter of a cup at a time,” says Chef Getchell. Not only is it much fresher and better tasting, but you can grind the pepper to the consistency that you like. “You will notice the difference immediately and never go back to the pre-ground stuff again,” he says.
- Chef Jens Dahlmann, Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, can’t live without a sharp knife. “I love Japanese blades, super sharp, light and easy to maintain,” he says. A Japanese mandoline is another essential tool in his kitchen, a machine with adjustable blades for thin to thick slicing with precision.
- Chef Scott Hunnel, Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, creates fancy dishes, but says it’s great salt and pepper he can’t cook without. “Without them, food doesn’t taste good. . . don’t forget finishing salt over sliced meat, it brings it to a whole new level of taste.”
- Chef Christine Weissman, Disney Cruise Line, always has her handheld immersion blender handy. “It makes nice soups and sauces and also allows me to get more vegetables into my children when they cannot see them!” says Chef Weissman.
- Chef Tim Keating, Flying Fish Café at Disney’s BoardWalk says, “I preach repeatedly to all of my team here and in every kitchen I have ever been in: you can have the best knives, tools, gadgets, machines but the most important tool in your arsenal is your tasting spoon. Your taste buds help you season properly, and check for balance.”