This May, we are celebrating Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month and lifting up cast members across Walt Disney World.
Today, meet Reuben Gutierrez, a Pastry Culinary cast member from Amorette’s Patisserie, who uses sweet treats and flavors to honor his heritage.
Growing up in a Filipino American household in Turnersville, NJ, Reuben remembers helping his mom in the kitchen and learning how to roll lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) for family parties and gatherings. This sparked an interest in the culinary arts and motivated him to volunteer his time in high school to make baked goods for his church’s Hospitality Sundays. His passion for baking flourished to the point that in his senior year of college at Rutgers University, he wrote a 25-page analytical report on the science of chocolate chip cookies, focusing on how different flours, fats, sugars and other factors influence the final product. Yes, really!
As you can probably tell, Reuben lives and breathes baking, so by his last year of college, he decided to explore a culinary career. While many of his classmates opted to stay local, in 2011 Reuben left New Jersey to join the College Program at Walt Disney World.
“My first movies were Disney’s ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Aladdin,’ so I grew up watching all of the animated films and the Disney Channel,” remembers Reuben. “We always found ourselves coming here on family vacations, so the love of Disney was something shared by my whole family. At a young age, I recognized that there were real people making that magic for other people and their friends and families, so it was something I always wanted to be a part of.”
During his college program working at Boardwalk Bakery, Chef Yoly Lazo Colon recognized his skills and helped him get a full-time role at the Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom Park. Later, Rueben honed his culinary skills working at Be Our Guest Restaurant, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and then six years ago, he landed a role on the opening team of Amorette’s Patisserie at Disney Springs, where he reunited with Chef Yoly.
Reuben has always enjoyed using the ingredients and foods he grew up with as a Filipino American as inspiration to create things for people who have never tried these flavors before. He’s very happy to be represented in his Philippines Maganda Ube – a sweet treat he created for Amorette’s Patisserie at Disney Springs for this month’s Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander celebration.
“The dish I created was inspired by two Filipino desserts I have enjoyed since childhood: Ube Pianono – an ube sponge cake roulade – and Turon Saba – plantains in cinnamon and sugar rolled up in an egg roll wrapper and fried. We had a Filipino grocery store in our town and my parents would take us every weekend to get all the produce and foods we couldn’t find at the regular supermarket.” Reuben hopes that his new creation will bring guests closer to his heritage.
“With its striking purple color, [ube] can be a bit intimidating for non-adventurous eaters, but as a layer cake, I hope to have guests feel a little braver about trying new things and learning more about the flavors of my culture.”
We hope Reuben keeps finding and discovering new ingredients that represent his heritage that he can transform into delightful treats. We are proud of his growth at Disney, and we look forward to his creations in the years to come.