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Disney Women of Food & Beverage – Part Two

Karen McClintock

by , Food & Beverage Content Relations Manager, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

In honor of National Women’s History Month, we continue our spotlight on Disney’s female Food & Beverage talent. This week we are showcasing four more women from Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

Narrowing down which cast members to highlight in this series was extremely difficult as the depth of talent at every level is truly impressive. But when we determined our final list, I had each of them answer multiple questions about the journey that led them to their current role with Disney. One of the questions, “What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry?” evoked thoughtful and honest answers that truly reflect their passion and commitment to their craft. I decided to include their answers in each of the profiles as their advice will resonate with everyone, regardless of gender.

Grab a cup of tea and enjoy!

Executive Chef Christine Weissman from Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Christine Weissman

Hometown: Bielefeld, Germany
Years in the Food & Beverage Industry: Over 40 years
Year Started with Disney: 1997
Current Role: Executive Chef, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Walt Disney World
Education/Accomplishments:
Certified Master Chef Meister Pruefung I.H.K.; Certified Culinary Certificate—Ausbilder Eignungs Pruefung; Introductory Sommelier Diploma Level One; Disney Legacy Award

Delicious Details: Family’s restaurant in Germany has been operating for over 150 years; has worked at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Disney Cruise Line, and Disneyland Paris; favorite kitchen gadget is her spaetzle board; scuba diver; plays tennis; nutmeg is her favorite spice; known for her potato pancakes with homemade gravlax; described as energetic, goal-oriented, and a strong partner.

What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry?
Be yourself, be determined, and open minded – own your personal career path. Seek out other leaders in the industry as mentors.

Proprietor Cindy Hoevenaars from Be Our Guest Restaurant at Magic Kingdom Park

Cindy Hoevenaars

Hometown: Lakeland, Fla.
Years in the Food & Beverage Industry: 30 years
Year Started with Disney: 1991
Current Role: Proprietor, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World (leading a team of over 380 cast members)
Education/Accomplishments: University of Phoenix – Business Management; Introductory Sommelier Diploma Level One

Delicious Details: Florida native; passionate about Disney’s 4 Keys: Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency; her mother is her biggest inspiration and taught her that “average” is not good enough; favorite snack food is lime chips with salsa; avid scuba diver with over 400 ocean dives; described as professional, knowledgeable, and social.

What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry?
It’s a selfless profession where you will see much success if you can show a passion for a high level of service while remembering that you are in service to your guests and cast members. Everything we do is to improve their experience and it’s not about you, personally. Have patience, show flexibility, and keep a positive attitude.

Chef de Cuisine Natalie Willingham from Disneyland Park

Natalie Willingham

Hometown: Grew up in the San Fernando Valley, Calif. but now calls Buena Park home.
Years in the Food & Beverage Industry: 20 years
Year Started with Disney: 2000
Current Role: Chef de Cuisine, Disneyland Park
Education/Accomplishments: Western Culinary Institute of Portland, Ore. – Culinary Arts

Delicious Details: Culinary style is a fusion of Creole, Cajun, and soul food with a healthier Californian twist; photographer; mom of three energetic boys; loves coffee (was a barista); coffee grinder is her favorite kitchen gadget; cinnamon and salt are her favorite spices; can’t resist shrimp fried rice; relaxes with yoga; described as hungry, honest, and loyal.

What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry?
Push yourself and never allow the negativity of others to derail you from achieving your goals. There will be times when you fail but don’t fear failure, fear not trying. The only person that has the power to stop you is you. Be an example for others of what right looks like. Your words and actions bear your signature so live with integrity and be a positive example for others.

Catering Operations Manager Leann Stein from Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort

Leann Stein

Hometown: Plano, Texas
Years in the Food & Beverage Industry: 40 years and going strong
Year Started with Disney: 1998
Current Role: Catering Operations Manager, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Walt Disney World (220,000-square foot convention center)
Education/Accomplishments: Hamburger University (McDonald’s Enterprise); Walt Disney World Partners in Excellence Award; Disney Legacy Award

Delicious Details: Family owned a BBQ restaurant in Texas; important that people around her feel appreciated and valued; dubbed the “Grill Master” by her family; loves desserts, chocolate, and donuts (do you see a pattern here?); her mom’s American goulash holds fond food memories; described as honest, firm but fair, and detailed as a leader and as a person.

What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry?
Be open minded, patient, and learn every aspect of the business from the front of the house to the heart of the house. Learn from the experts and be resilient. Don’t worry if you have to start at the bottom as long as you have the top in your sights.

Comments

  • I am really enjoying this series, the Disney Woman of Food and Beverage. Please keep it coming! Great job Karen!

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