We honor the cultures and contributions of Black cast every day and as we Celebrate Soulfully this Black History Month at Walt Disney World Resort, we are excited to share what inspired two of our Disney Springs cast members to work in culinary and learn more about the special culinary creations they’ve made for our guests.
For chef assistant Kate Celestin, the kitchen was not a place where you just made food. It was more of a sanctuary where her family connected, mixing spices to create flavors that nourished their bodies, and most importantly, their souls. “I grew up in the kitchen and I watched my family creating things and coming together, creating memories in the kitchen, and I had to be a part of that.”
Kate recognizes her life would have been very different if not for the sacrifice her Jamaican-Italian grandfather made – leaving his family in Jamaica to immigrate to the United States to work toward a better life for them. Years later, she and her family were able to join him in the United States and start anew, and she was inspired by her grandfather to become a chef.
As Kate continues to grow her skills in the culinary arts, her personal experiences motivate her to keep working toward accomplishing her goals. Now a chef assistant at D-Luxe Burger at Disney Springs, Kate is very proud to have created a dish that will be featured during Celebrate Soulfully, Spicy Caribbean Jerk Burger which features two pressed signature blend patties with spicy jerk aioli, pineapple mango salsa, pepper jack cheese, plantain sticks, lettuce, tomato and grilled onions.
Chef Kate describes the recipe as the taste of home, inspired by childhood memories. As Kate continues her culinary journey at Disney Springs, we look forward to enjoying more of her creations!
Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dee Swann can vividly remember watching her mom and grandma working in the kitchen – cooking her favorite dishes. “I started stepping in at the age of 10, helping them out in the kitchen,” remembers Dee. The kitchen became a place for her to bond with the two most important figures in her life and that’s what inspired her to embark on a culinary career that spans three decades.
After moving to Orlando five years ago, Dee decided that Disney Springs was the ideal place to continue her growth. “I heard a lot of great things about Disney. I knew a couple of chefs here at Disney from the past and I said, ‘I’m going to do this.’”
Experimenting with the ingredients at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar – and taking a few pointers from her daughter – Dee reinvented the sweet potato pie she loved during her childhood and developed Ms. Dee’s Fried Sweet Potato Pie a delightful sweet potato filled pastry with spiced cinnamon sugar, maple bourbon sauce and roasted pecan crumble. Dee “put a twist on tradition” with her second creation: Chicken on the Egg – buttermilk fried chicken, deviled eggs and hot honey sauce – which she describes as “modern soul food.” While being part of this celebration is an important career milestone for her, Dee continues to hone her craft to reach her dream of becoming a sous chef.
Learn more about Cooking with Soul throughout the Celebrate Soulfully celebration in February and beyond, and visit Disney Springs to try these dishes and more!