In the Kitchen with Disney’s Chef Aimée Rivera
This week I had the great opportunity to be part of the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On-the-Road, which for the first time took place in Miami. It was a half-day conference-style that gave me the opportunity not only to learn about the latest social media trends, but also to reconnect with my fellow Miami bloggers and my Disney friends.
Talking to my dear Sarah Domenech, Public Relations Manager at Disney Destinations, she told me about four amazing Latino women that happen to be chefs in different Disney restaurants and pastry shops. Today I’m sharing the story of Chef Aimée Rivera, Chef de Cuisine of Victoria & Albert’s, at the iconic Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
What is your hometown?
Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
BS Marketing/AOS Culinary Arts.
Professional and Personal Certifications/Awards?
Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island, AAA Five Diamond Award (Victoria & Albert’s) and 2018 Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award (Victoria & Albert’s)
How many years as a chef?
How and when did you become interested in becoming a chef?
Just prior from graduating college, I became interested in Food & Beverage.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The joy guests feel during and after an excellent meal.
Why do you continue to be a chef?
I love food. Period.
What are you known for professionally?
I am known for my attention to detail.
Year started with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts?
Why did you choose to work for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts?
Initially, it was the structure and benefits that Disney offered.
Current role with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts? Describe your responsibilities:
As the Chef de Cuisine at Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, I oversee every aspect of the back of the house from menu development, food and labor cost, hiring, scheduling, safety scores, GSM scores, and overall quality control.
How did you arrive at your current position? What was your path?
I started in Atlanta right out of culinary school and worked there right before the Olympics for over two years. I moved to South Carolina to open a bed and breakfast that quickly became a renowned restaurant and I was there seven years. I then moved to Orlando for a sous chef position at Walt Disney World Resort at Victoria & Albert’s. I was promoted from sous chef to chef and now chef de cuisine. I have been at Victoria & Albert’s for 15 years.
In what other notable restaurants have you worked?
The Dining Room at Woodlands, S.C.
And what have you done for them?
Achieved AAA 5 Diamonds and Mobil Five Stars Award. Started as cook, then promoted to executive sous chef. I was in that role for seven years.
Who is your biggest inspiration or culinary idol and why?
My mother was an outstanding cook! She could cook without recipes or guidance, she just had the palate. No dish was too complicated, no culinary task too complicated, you could tell she really loved it.
Who helped you get in to the industry?
My mother and one of my sisters.
What are you most passionate about professionally?
What is one problem you are best at solving in the workplace?
I am best at solving last minute problems and keeping my cool.
What three words would your co-workers use to describe you?
Energetic, passionate, detail oriented.
Describe your culinary style and where your influences come from.
At Victoria & Albert’s, we combine classic with modern. I love aspects of both styles. Past travels, literature and people in the industry have helped create that style.
What are some of your favorite dishes to prepare in your restaurant?
I am very proud of the food we create at Victoria & Albert’s – I love it all!
Favorite kitchen gadget?
Favorite spice and why?
Black pepper, it enhances almost everything.
Favorite junk/snack food?
You run a restaurant, but what do you cook for your family?
They really don’t ask for much from me since they know I spend my day in the kitchen. When I see them I am on vacation, so if I feel like cooking something for them, they are grateful, but if I don’t, they respect that.
What food or beverage holds childhood memories for you?
Buñuelos. My mother taught us to make the best!
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy?
I enjoy dining out.
Any secret culinary indulgences?
What’s always in the fridge at home?
Coconut water and sriracha.
Is there a nonprofit organization you specifically support? Why?
Susan Komen. My mother is a breast cancer survivor.
What would be impossible for you to give up?
People would be surprised to know…
What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry?
Food & Beverage is a challenging industry that is very demanding. You need to be firm in what you believe and work with integrity.
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