Disney Chefs Dish Up Culture at Food & Wine Fest

Black Women Disney Chef Culture Food and Wine Fest

Foodies, rejoice! The Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival is in full swing at Disneyland Resort. But this year, the culinary celebration goes beyond delicious dishes. It’s also highlighting the power of food to connect cultures, especially during Women’s History Month. Two amazing Disney chefs, Natalie Willingham and Michaela Gilchrist, are serving up more than just meals at the festival. They’re showcasing their personal recipes steeped in Black culture, offering a glimpse into their heritage and the magic of food as a storytelling tool.

Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival

Chef Michaela Gilchrest Disney Chef
Chef Michaela Gilchrest Disney Chef

This past weekend, Chef Natalie brought the heat with a Jollof demonstration. On April 7th, Chef Michaela will be whipping up a batch of her signature dirty rice with beef and sausage. But these demonstrations are about more than following a recipe. Through their participation in PULSE, a Disney employee group supporting Black communities, these chefs are sharing the personal stories woven into their dishes. These culinary demonstrations are more than just a delicious way to spend an afternoon at the festival. They’re a celebration of culture, heritage, and the incredible women shaping the culinary world at Disneyland Resort.

Want to learn more about the chefs?

Chef Natalie Willingham_Disney Chefs Dish Up Culture at Food & Wine Fest (Large)Chef Natalie Willingham’s Disney career began nearly 24 years ago as a line cook. Since then, she’s climbed the culinary ladder, recently taking on a new role as Chef de Cuisine for Environmental Food Sustainability.

“It’s great to have a conversation that focuses on the food stories and pathways of my culture,” said Chef Natalie. “As a Black Christian woman, born and raised in Southern California, [my culture is] diverse, colorful, welcoming and filled with rhythm, creativity, strength and beauty.”   
Chef Natalie added, “like the people that consume and shape the cuisine, [Soul food and African cuisine] deserves to be seen, respected and appreciated. It is filled with beauty and the stories of our ancestors.”

Chef Michaela Gilchrist joined the Disney family in 1985 and quickly transitioned into a leadership role. Over the years, she’s held various positions before becoming a chef in 2010. Currently, she works her magic at the Plaza Inn in Disneyland Park [Disney].

So, grab your tickets to the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival and celebrate Women’s History Month with a delicious journey through culture and flavor.

Source: Disney

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About Anthony Whyte

Content Manager | Senior Editor | Daydreamer | Keep your head on a swivel and don't blink