If you’re a fan of the culinary arts like we are, you may know that July marked a special occasion: National Culinary Arts Month! While we never need an excuse to celebrate the incredible work our food & beverage cast members do year-round, it’s been so fun to come together throughout the last month to honor the culinary arts and how they unite us all.
Just last week, the doors of Victoria & Albert’s — the culinary crown jewel of Walt Disney World Resort — reopened at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa! Cast members got to be among the first to experience this newly reimagined upscale dining experience earlier in the month and enjoy a taste of its classic Victorian elegance and exquisitely crafted American cuisine.
“Experiencing Victoria & Albert’s as a guest for the first time was something so exciting and special to me,” said Allyson Hignight, Grand Floridian reservation agent. “From the beauty, care, and love that went into each dish to the service from the front-of-house cast and chefs working behind the scenes on the cuisine, flavors, textures, and presentation, it was truly a special evening.”
These cast members — representing areas across the resort from food & beverage to front desk to housekeeping — were each nominated by their leaders for the resort’s Quarterly Awards, and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate their incredible achievements than with a personalized dining experience, created just for them! Surrounded by the soft classical sounds of a live harpist, they indulged in a collection of masterfully crafted dishes and desserts created by the talented Grand Floridan culinary team, including the award-winning Chef de Cuisine Matthew Sowers, Pastry Chef Kristine Farmer and Sommelier Israel Perez.
“It was an honor to be part of this well-deserved recognition moment,” said Chef Matthew. “Our team loves to create great food; this work is our craft and we are thrilled to share this immersive dining experience with our cast.”
As if this milestone couldn’t get any better, food & beverage cast members brought the community into the celebration and invited culinary students from Valencia College to an exclusive look inside the restaurant before its grand reopening. Many of them proud Valencia alumni themselves, they shared their personal journeys from culinary students to Disney chefs and even surprised students with the news of a $50,000 donation to Valencia College Foundation to enhance its culinary program’s education experience, continuing Disney’s commitment to investing in the culinary arts.
Of course, no celebration is complete without capturing the memories! Throughout July, food & beverage cast members across Walt Disney World celebrated National Culinary Arts Month with surprise photo opportunities and keepsakes, commemorating the important role they play as a member of the Disney culinary team.
Culinary cast members also had the opportunity to hear from various industry experts, including renowned celebrity chefs and some of our very own Disney culinary directors, who shared all about their career paths and expertise. Recently, culinary leaders were invited to the latest event in the Leadership Speaker Series, where they heard from Chef Lorena Garcia and Chef Art Smith — a former culinary cast member on the Disney College Program who now runs his own restaurant, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, at Disney Springs.
This National Culinary Arts Month has certainly been one for the (cook)books, and we can’t wait to continue celebrating our talented culinarians and food & beverage cast members throughout the year. Thank you to each of you for creating unforgettable magic and next-level dining experiences at Walt Disney World each and every day.
Are you ready to join our team of artists, visionaries and storytellers on the Disney culinary team? Visit disneycareers.com to explore the possibilities!