Disney Chefs Use Creativity to Cook Up Culturally Inspired Dishes

Andrew Kowalski

by , Communications Intern, Walt Disney World

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a sous chef at Walt Disney World Resort? It takes a high level of culinary skill and willingness to try new ideas according to Chef Clayton from Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Chef Becky from Disney’s All-Star Music Resort. Both chefs are living their dreams of creating lasting moments of joy at the most Magical Place on Earth through the experience that connects us all: food!

As we honor Black History Month in February with Celebrate Soulfully and Women’s History Month in March with Celebrate HER story, chefs across the resort are using their own unique cultural and personal backgrounds to inspire some specially crafted dishes and welcome our guests into the celebration.

Chef Clayton and Chef Becky have developed two of my personal favorite specialty dishes to honor these celebrations: the Southern Fried Chicken Bowl and Honey-Thyme Pork Loin with Roasted Garden Vegetables. I was lucky enough to step into the kitchen with both chefs to try the dishes, learn how they are made, and ask some questions about the inspiration behind them. Keep reading to learn what they had to share!

The Southern Fried Chicken Bowl by Chef Clayton:

Q: Chef Clayton, what inspired your Southern Fried Chicken Bowl?

A: My inspiration behind the Southern Fried Chicken Bowl is a classic Sunday dinner at grandma’s house. I got lucky because my own grandma — we call her Nana or Mee-maw — raised me, and she was a great cook and taught me what was fun about the kitchen. At her house, there was always a smorgasbord of food. Her dishes usually included two proteins, so I chose to incorporate fried chicken and smoked turkey in this dish as a tribute to those moments we shared together.

Q: Every ingredient in this bowl seems very intentional, how did you choose which ones to include?

A: I spent time researching every element of this dish to ensure it is accurate and authentic. In addition to using my own experiences as inspiration, it’s very important to me to research the history of the food I’m preparing. Within our craft, we have the opportunity to learn about other cultures and cuisines as well as our own. Taking the time to learn allows us to expand our knowledge and horizons, and I believe it makes me a better chef.

Q: What does it mean to have your own dish included as a way to celebrate and honor Black History Month?

A: I’m so thrilled to offer this to guests and tell my family about it. It’s a culinary journey into my personal and cultural background and I hope everyone enjoys it!

Check out this video for a look at how this delicious dish is created:

Honey-Thyme Pork Loin with Roasted Garden Vegetables by Chef Becky:

Q: Chef Becky, what inspired your Honey-Thyme Pork Loin with Roasted Garden Vegetables Dish?

A: This dish is a representation of my childhood in a small farm town in Northwest Ohio. Food and family were two of the cornerstones of my fondest childhood memories. I’ll always remember the summers I spent canning vegetables from my mother’s garden and harvesting honey with my uncle to sell to local restaurants, and I incorporated many of these vegetables and ingredients I used to work with in my Honey-Thyme Pork Loin with Roasted Garden Vegetables as an homage to where it all started.

Q: Why is it so special to be able to offer this dish in the month of March?

A: It’s perfect because March is a representation of the season of growth. Throughout my childhood, March signified when new growth of leaves and flowers sprout after a long winter in the Midwest; birds sing, bright green colors emerge, fresh new crops come up through the ground and people are happy that spring is in the air. The medley of carrots, spring onions, radishes and fingerling potatoes in this dish instantly take me back to this vibrant season, and once they’re roasted to perfection, they’re the ideal addition to the pork loin.

Q: What does it mean to have your own dish included as a way to celebrate and honor Women’s History Month?

A: When I designed this dish, I wanted it to celebrate the talented women working in the culinary field and represent how Disney welcomes everyone to tell their story. As a woman working in the culinary industry myself, I love being able to share my traditions with our guests and hope they can see a bit of themselves in this special creation. It gives me optimism for the next generation, and I can’t wait to see the next farm girl from a small town come forward and accomplish something like this.

Q: Where can guests taste this dish during Celebrate HER story?

A: Guests can enjoy this creation at select Disney Resort Hotels March 1-31 as they Celebrate HER story here at Walt Disney World Resort.

Are you interested in taking the next step in your culinary career? Discover a variety of culinary opportunities available by visiting DisneyCulinary.com and apply today!