The team from Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College in Fort Pierce, recently had the chance to visit the kitchens at Disney’s Contemporary Hotel. Career Development Director Scott Smith and Program Director Brian Macsuga were hosted by Disney’s Chef Pauli Milotte and Executive Pastry Chef Jeff Barnes. They were escorted first into the lower level kitchen of the hotel, where they were able to observe a number of culinarians at work.
“The awesome display of cleanliness in the kitchen is the first thing that caught our attention, followed by the extensive HACCP system they have in place to ensure food safety,” said Macsuga.
The tour continued to the pastry area to watch some of the daily production and see the students in action.
“I was amazed to learn that over 80 percent of the pastry products Disney serves to hotel guests and throughout the entire property are made fresh,” Macsuga said. “The CPs (College Placements) had put together a wonderful display of the items they produce daily, and our externs spoke of their personal experiences on site.”
After the pastry tour, the group went upstairs to the California Grill. This restaurant is a signature dining site which rotates the menu on a weekly basis. It has an open kitchen design so guests are able to come up and talk with the chefs as they cook. The menu and wine list are extensive and a lot of thought is put into every little detail, from the design on each napkin to the chandeliers and other lighting.
Downstairs in the Banquet Kitchen is where they produce items for all parties and events that go on throughout the year. Virginia College’s National Dean of Culinary and Hospitality Antony Osborne has cooked in this location during the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. The group also visited a private, VIP dining room where special events are held. The tour ended with a lunch at WAVE that included a memorable charcuterie platter.
After lunch, Chef Pauli introduced the team to Kent Phillips who works directly with all the CPs at Disney. Kent guided a tour of student housing that Disney provides.
“There are three apartment complexes to house the CPs, with all the amenities that one would expect any luxury complex to have,” Macsuga said.
Each complex has its own pool area, recreational room and computer lab. They offer group outings for the CPs, such as going to Orlando Magic basketball games. They also offer bus transportation to and from work as well as to grocery stores around town. Disney offers professional development classes for resume building, professional networking and branding.
“The list of free classes offered was amazing,” Macsuga said.
Disney also puts out two publications: Communicator, which lays out the entire month of activities, and Eyes and Ears, which introduces the entire Disney team by listing employee milestones and sharing profiles.
“Disney does not miss a beat when it comes to the guest experience,” Macsuga said. “This tour was priceless, as it gave us insight into an otherwise protected world. What an honor to be involved with such a powerhouse company!”