While visiting Disneyland resort for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, I got the chance to attend a runDisney Lunch 'N' Learn at the Napa Rose restaurant in the Grand Californian hotel. I learned chef tricks for cooking chicken, tried the best pre-workout smoothie recipe I've ever seen, and picked upsome pretty cool Disney-specific secrets about what makes their food so special.
While learning how to make Disney's seasonal fruit crisp — a tried-and-true formula they use with the freshest produce on offer — I got to know more about what goes into their pastries, specifically, and why they're so damn good.
They Have a "Secret Ingredient"
One of the secrets to a Disney pastry? "90 percent of them have brown sugar," said Nubia Renteria, assistant pastry chef who was leading the course. "It adds a richness and complexity to the pastry that [white] sugar doesn't," she said.
They're Meticulous About Ingredients
As strawberries were just coming into season at the time of our cooking class, I got the chance to try the freshest, sweetest, most delicious strawberry I've ever tasted — One bite was like literal candy.
What makes it so special? Disney only gets their strawberries from a farm called Harry's Berries in Oxnard, CA. "They only do strawberries," said Nubia. They specialize in this particular fruit, so Disneyland knows they're getting the best quality.
Another meticulously-selected ingredient? Feuilletine flakes — a pastry crunch made from dried crepes, and somewhat difficult to come by. Nubia used this in the Disneyland cherry crisp she made for us.
Their Chefs Are Pros
Nubia also mentioned she has been at Disneyland working as a pastry chef for seventeen years, but that her career's longevity wasn't abnormal. In fact, it's common for Disneyland chefs to stay for a very, very long time. Not only do they have decades of experience, but they know the ins and outs of Disneyland-specific methods and their customers. Plus, there's a whole lotta love going into their creations.
They'll Custom Make Anything For Your Dietary Needs
Speaking of love, Nubia told the group of us attending a story about a little boy who had never had a birthday cake in his whole life because of allergies to dairy, soy, and gluten, but Nubia and her team came together to create a safe and delicious cake for his birthday trip to Disneyland.
In fact, any chef at the Disneyland resort will customize the food on offer to suit your dietary needs and restrictions. I overheard a woman mention to a friend in the group that "This was the first place my kids didn't feel restricted after we went gluten-free," because Disney was so accommodating.