As part of our on-going “Disney Chef Spotlight” series, we’ll introduce you to a Disney chef at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disneyland Resort in California, or Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii. Whether they work in our convention resorts or Theme Parks, these talented culinarians create memorable dining experiences for private catered events every single day.
Let’s meet Frank Brough, Catering Chef de Cuisine at Disney’s Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida:
Hi, Chef Frank. Tell us about a typical day in your role.
One of the thrills that accompanies Food & Beverage is that there is never a “typical day.” An ideal day is being able to spend time with our Cast and talking about food and their interests and passions. The day begins with a pre-convention meeting with our planners and really connecting with them over the food and beverage they have chosen to serve at their event. It is particularly enjoyable when you work with someone that you “met” on the phone while custom-designing an event; then meet with them face to face; and, finally, interact with that meeting planner throughout the week as you execute what you promised.
How long have you been with Disney, and what was your first role with the Company?
I’m approaching my 30th year with the Walt Disney Company. I had the good fortune of working in a salaried role with another local hotel while Walt Disney World Resort experienced tremendous growth in the resorts business. I happened to meet the Executive Chef of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and was offered a culinary role on the opening team. Six months after opening the hotel, I was promoted into the Chef de Cuisine role at Victoria & Albert’s.
What is your most favorite part of your job, and why?
I have always enjoyed creating new product. At Victoria & Albert’s, my role involved coming up with seven courses each night. In Catering, the focus is more about creating new product than delivering the same planned menu. In particular, we are very proud of the interactive cooking school for Guests that we have created. We invite our clients into our kitchen, and they cook with us side-by-side as they create the mis en place for a wonderful five-course meal.
What would your team say about you?
First and foremost, they would say that I’m concerned about their best interests and in developing them to be great at whatever they choose to do the rest of their lives. I was lucky enough to be mentored by women and men that cared about my career and ambitions, and I just want to pass it forward.
When you are creating food for an event, what do you hope the event attendees will say about the food? What do you want them to enjoy and/or remember?
Our private cooking school experience for groups typifies what we want to deliver every day: an over-the-top, one-of-a-kind occasion that Guests recall many years later as the best event they have ever attended. We want them to understand the nuances of food, the role that a Maillard reaction has on the taste of a final dish, as you perfectly sear a filet mignon. We want them to remember that true flavor is not just what you taste, it is a combination of what you smell, taste and experience in the course of dining.
From where do you draw culinary inspiration?
I learned my craft from European Chefs. They were a tough bunch, demanding and meticulous. EVERY dining experience is a learning experience, and I always approach a meal with that in mind. My wife has become a vegan, and I am now being inspired by the explosion of great technique and foodstuffs she is exposing me to.
What do you think are some popular trends in catering today?
One trend we’ve seen is extending our kitchens to become part of the overall banquet experience. We do all sorts of activities for our Guests in our Contemporary Catering Kitchen. We soften the lights; bring in carpeting, custom-designed tables, and chairs; and even hang a chandelier when we entertain. We have created Guest-focused interactive programs around developing your palate or building your wine knowledge. During our kitchen-focused events, we always include a molecular gastronomy-inspired experience.
What’s the best part about being a Chef de Cuisine for Disney?
I spent the last 27 years in the restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort. The Catering experience has been a unique and wonderful opportunity. I have a great leader, who recognizes that if you are going to be creative and develop new business opportunities, you have to let people take risks and allow them some freedom. We have a great team here at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. I enjoy and treasure the relationships that I have with each server, manager, cook, and chef.
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