Walt Disney World Resort may serve more than 54 million meals every year, but rest assured, attention to detail isn’t lost as chefs look for new ways to wow their guests. And the trend for sourcing locally brings beautiful tastes to fine-dining restaurants.
Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s BoardWalk heads to local farms for veggies and pork, and to both coasts for seafood. “Beets, turnips, radishes, kale and chard from Palm Beach County, citrus from local groves, tiny greens from a farm in Mt. Dora, tomatoes from Florida – we love our local growers,” says Chef Tim Keating. Chef Tim serves pork from Ocala, clams from Cedar Key and Royal Red shrimp from the Atlantic.
California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort reaches out for local pork, seafood, eggs, fruit and vegetables. Chef Brian Piasecki serves Atlantic flounder with Florida citrus and tomatoes, and his Gulf Coast white shrimp dish includes local arugula, watercress and tomatoes. “Local sourcing means we get ingredients at their peak of flavor,” says Chef Brian. “And we love to share with our guests the great diversity that Florida has to offer – and, in turn, we feel more connected to our community.”
Also at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Chef Frank Brough at The Wave … of American Flavors features products from 21 local and regional farms, such as their rock shrimp and blue crab cake using Florida seafood, eggs, avocados, sweet peppers, corn and micro greens. Over the last three years, The Wave … of American Flavors has hosted more than 20 local farmers in monthly farm-chef dinner.
At AAA Five-Diamond Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Chef Scott Hunnel features a poached local chicken egg wrapped in fresh pasta, garnished with lardons from local pork. “Sourcing local is important to sustain our farmers and our community,” says Chef Scott. “And it’s wonderful to be able to visit the farm and discuss what produce we can showcase.”
Next door to Victoria & Albert’s, Chef Phillip Ponticelli at Cítricos sources Florida pink shrimp and local tomatoes for his signature shrimp with feta and tomatoes appetizer. “Fresh shrimp is abundant in Florida, and we’re supporting our local fishermen,” says Chef Phillip. “And the fresh shrimp is tender as butter.”
Also at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Chef Dennis Thompson at Narcoossee’s is using Florida sweet corn with both the halibut and lobster, and wild Florida shrimp is the star of Chef Dennis’ shrimp and grits with cherrywood smoked bacon and a green tomato chow-chow made with Florida tomatoes. Local citrus goes with poached shrimp, and pairs with local berries in the Plant City strawberry salad.
“It’s such a pleasure to cook with Florida seafood and produce,” says Chef Dennis. “We buy local whenever possible.”