More Behind the Scenes Stories

What it Takes to Serve a Family of 500

Heather Hust Rivera

by , Vice President, Consumer Products

Making dinner for your family can certainly be hectic, but imagine if you were cooking and serving for a family of 500! That is just what our Resort Banquets Team does all the time. Whether it is a party of 50 executives attending a retreat or a convention of 500 guests, there is a lot of work that goes into making each plate.

How do they do it?

Check out the video below and then read on for an interview with Enache Popp, Operations Manager, Food & Beverage for Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, to find out the secrets to creating gourmet meals for hundreds of guests.

What is the largest single sitting that you have done?

Enache: Our largest party was 1,200 guests. It was a “plated” event meaning the event was served as a three-course meal, including appetizer salad, entrée and dessert.

How long does it take to make that many meals?

Enache: With the size of our kitchen staff we are able to produce food for a large group pretty quickly. We start the previous day making the sauces and salad dressing; cleaning and trimming vegetables; grating cheeses, etc. Event day always goes more smoothly when we have all these items ready to cook ahead of time. On the day of the event we “dish up” the salads first so they can be loaded onto carts and chilled before service. This process involves moving the plates along an assembly line adding each element along the way. When done, the plate is covered, stacked and loaded onto a cart and placed into a walk-in refrigerator. Entrées are created much the same way. For larger parties, we use multiple serving lines. An empty plate is transformed into a fully portioned plate complete with a lid in less than 4 seconds per plate. For the event with 1,200 guests, we used multiple lines which allowed us to plate in less than 50 minutes!

How are you able to serve so many meals so quickly?

Enache: For most events, guests need to be served quickly so they can return to their meetings after lunch. For a quicker turnaround, we pre-set the salad and dessert on the table at the last possible minute before the guests arrive. To serve the entrées quickly, two servers work together as a team and service four tables. This made it possible to serve all 1,200 guests in only 11 minutes.

What qualities does a Banquet Manager need to have?

Enache: An understanding of logistics and good organizational skills are needed for banquets. We use the information provided by the sales team to ensure the room is decorated and ready; we make sure the food is delicious and prepared on time, and, of course, after the event is over, we clear the tables and break down the room to prepare for the next event. It is our job to do this while providing world-class service.


  • Simply amazing! As a gourmet pastry chef myself I know the amount of effort and planning it takes to pull something like this together, and the Disney Cast Members do it time and again with efficiency and grace. It’s clear they all have great passion for what they do!

    Hey Disney… are you hiring?? *laugh*

  • Dole! Firstly let me say I love Dole food products and have always found them easy to work with.

    Happy Birthday Disneyland and Associated Theme Parks, Establishments, and Venues. It is truly awesome the work that continues at the Park and throughout the Corporation. What’s really great here is the work that is putting together, “Good” Food. “So fours for Disney”. * * * * (4 stars)

    I can’t wait to dine at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Previously having worked as a Cast member for NBC UNI Hollywood Foods you can really see how a huge team like yours can bring a sweet spot to eating alone or eating with friends. C’ya soon.

    May you have many many more wonderful and very successful and Happiest of birthdays.
    Thank you for being my favorite dream come true.Most exciting place to visit all these years. I hope and pray I will be able to visit again soon.
    My most rewarding time when I served over 100 people @ my church was last yr. in February for my Daughters 25th surprise birthday party. It was a total success.
    Main course was Picadillo, White rice Balck beans, Yucca al mojo de ajo. Empanadas Colombianas ,more than 400.Neopolitan Ice cream and a White cake filled with Strawberries covered in almonds.
    With a picture of my beautiful single daughter in a top hat. On top of the cake.
    Hollywood style red carpet and all.
    Glamour pictures of just her posted all along the walls.
    Thank you for allowing me to share.

  • One Song comes to Mind when seeing this video and its from Beauty and the Beast. 🙂 Be our guest be our guest put our service to the test :)Great job Disney I work as a Banquets Houseman so I know what caos can go with large groups but your definitly pros 🙂

    • Ha Ha! That’s great. Thanks, David. Now, I have “Be Our Guest” stuck in my head. 🙂

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