What is a culinary role, and how does it differ from the other roles available at Disney?
If you’re accepted for a culinary role at Disney World, you’re basically a cook. You’ll usually be referred to as a “culinary.” You might be a short order cook working at a quick service location, grilling hamburgers and sandwiches. You might end up working in the kitchen of a full service restaurant, cutting vegetables or making desserts. If you’re accepted for the Fall semester, you might even end up working in some of the booths at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.
The culinary role differs from the “Quick Service Food & Beverage” (QSFB) role. You get to wear a chef’s coat, which looks more professional and a bit less dorky than the typical QSFB costume. You’re allowed to carry and use knives. You cook things on a grill or a flattop, whereas people in the QSFB roles are usually limited to putting things on a plate or throwing chicken nuggets and fries in the fryer. You’ll also be responsible for staying on top of HACCP procedures, such as taking food temperatures every couple of hours.
A culinary can have a highly visible role with a lot of guest interaction, depending on where the culinary is deployed. In quick service locations, culinaries work alongside people in QSFB roles (otherwise known as frontline people). Frontline people call out food orders, hand food to guests, and may do a little food preparation. Frontline people interact with the guests the most. From a culinary’s perspective, it’s easy to take the QSFB people for granted, but they are important. Without good frontline people helping out, culinaries fall behind and get their butts kicked trying to handle too many things at once.
Do you have to pass a web-based interview for a culinary role?
Yes. Everyone has to pass the same web-based interview, regardless of the roles they’re applying for. It’s a personality test that tries to get a feel for your personality and work ethic.
What is the phone interview like?
When you apply for a culinary role, you’ll actually have to pass two phone interviews. The first phone interview will be more general; you’ll be asked questions such as why you want to work for Disney, whether you have any visible tattoos, etc. You’ll also be asked about your work experience, your work style, etc. There will also be some ServSafe-related questions, such as how you would store chicken, fish, beef, and pork in a fridge, to what internal temperature should certain foods be cooked, etc. There may also be more subjective culinary questions, such as how you would make the perfect salad, or what your favorite restaurant is and why.
The second phone interview will be with a chef. He’ll mostly test your culinary knowledge by asking things such as: How do you make a bechamel sauce? What kind of vegetables would you buy that are in season right now? How do you determine if a fish is fully cooked? What kind of sauce would you serve with the fish? What kind of meal would you make for friends? Those are just a few examples.
Do you have to bring any special equipment, clothing, etc?
My acceptance letter instructed me to bring a knife kit and slip-resistant shoes. However, I never used my knives, and Disney provided shoes for me at no cost. I didn’t need to bring a chef’s coat or anything like that; Disney already has coats, pants, and hats that you’ll be required to wear.
That said, I did see a few culinaries who carried their own knife kits to work. They tended to be the exception rather than the rule. I worked in quick service locations where most food items were already fabricated for us, so there was almost never a need for a knife. However, it might be different in full service restaurants. Bring some knives to be on the safe side, but don’t be surprised if you never have to bring them to work.
I strongly recommend bringing a digital thermometer or two. Although work location will probably have thermometers, they can get lost, stolen, or broken. Having your own as a backup can be a life saver.
Although Disney will provide a pair of shoes, it’s a good idea to bring your own black slip-resistant shoes. That way if your Disney shoes fall apart in two months or get soaked in the rain, you’ll have a backup pair.
Finally, brings plenty of black socks and white shirts. In one of the locations I worked, wearing white socks or a colored shirt under your chef’s coat were fireable offenses.
What kind of paperwork do you need to bring?
All the paperwork Disney sends you (most of it should be filled out in advance), along with several forms of identification. I brought a driver’s license, a birth certificate, and a social security card. Things such as your birth certificate and social security card can be mailed back home after you check in.
I brought my ServSafe certification in case Disney wanted to see proof that I had indeed passed the ServSafe test. However, they never asked to see it.
If you’re getting credit for your Disney internship, your school will likely have papers and forms you’ll need to fill out as you go. These may be timesheets, evaluation forms, etc. Most of these things will need to be signed by a chef. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to the chefs; they understand that culinary schools have requirements like this, so it shouldn’t be a big deal to get them to sign papers as needed.
Do you get to choose which apartment to live in? Will your roommates be culinary cast members too?
Everyone who checks in is asked which apartment complex they’d like to live in (Vista Way, Chatham, or Patterson). You may or may not be asked how many roommates you want. I asked for Patterson, which is the newest and quietest of the complexes. I was randomly assigned to live with five other roommates. None of my roommates had culinary roles.
Other people have reported different experiences. In one case, a culinary didn’t get a choice and was assigned to live in Vista Way with other culinaries as roommates. This was not at all the case for me or the other culinary interns I met.
You’ll have at LEAST one roommate. You may have up to seven roommates. Everyone is grouped by gender and drinking age. If you’re a girl, all your roommates will be girls too. If you’re over 21, then your roommates will be over 21 too (unless you specifically request a non-drinking or “Wellness” apartment). This way, no one gets in trouble if one of your roommates has a beer or cooks with a bottle of wine.