Central Florida is now a global hub for theme park food from Shanghai to Paris. The opening of the new 7,000-square-foot Flavor Lab at Walt Disney World creates an unprecedented work space for food and beverage research and development. From cocktails to desserts, mixologists and chefs can refine menu items and concentrate on cast education.
With integrated technology and electronics the culinary artists can share their work in real time around the world — making Orlando’s backyard home to some of the most creative food and beverage analysis.
“Food and beverage is a significant part of the Disney vacation experience anywhere in the world,” said Beth Scott, vice president for food and beverage for Disney parks and resorts. “We now have space to test new equipment and cooking processes and we can inspire our culinary teams through interactive training.”
The lab, which is not open to the public, has a vibrant classroom feel. A gleaming stainless-steel U-shaped culinary station equipped with overhead lights and large screens is the focal point of the first room. Cameras can stream live presentations connecting chefs and other team members to any Disney property.
To the right is a glass-enclosed, conference room as well as a large classroom ready for teaching. During a recent preview master sommelier Brian Koziol was preparing for a wine tasting.
“To have such a collaborative space is exciting,” said Koziol. “Not only can we ensure that our cast is up-to-date on beverage trends, but we can work directly with other properties without having to board a plane, allowing us to work faster and better.”
At the rear of the main room is a full-service bar where spirits can be mixed and tested until they are show ready for a cruise ship or poolside at Disney’s Yacht & Beach resort. The door off the bar leads into an narrow room where small- to medium-size equipment such as espresso makers can be put through rigorous use to make sure they can handle the quality and volume required to be used in a theme park or hotel setting.
Another door off the main room opens into an expansive test kitchen. The center is lined with back-to-back commercial stoves. A variety of electrical outlets on the wall above the burner tops allow appliances of any wattage to be tested.
On this day several chefs are perfecting recipes for The Ganachery at Disney Springs and Tiffins, a new signature restaurant coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Flavor Lab has been three years in the making, according to Scott, and will have about 18 employees working there full time.
“From testing to training, food photography and vendor presentation, the Flavor Lab fosters innovation,” said Jean-Marie Clement, director of food and beverage concept development.
From the Orlando Sentinel