inspired by #disney – putting the munch in #techmunch

One of the perks of attending the TECHmunch conference hosted by the Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa was the opportunity to experience the exquisite culinary offerings of the Disneyland Resort.

A two hour Taste of Disneyland was coordinated to not only serve as our conference lunch, but to allow attendees the opportunity to mingle with the head chefs of ten of Disneyland’s premier restaurants. I would have never imagined that the featured dishes of the Disneyland restaurants could rival those of top fine dining establishments, but they quickly made a believer out of me. Below are some of my favorite savory dishes as well as a selection of their magical desserts.

Disneyland Savory

  • Dry-rubbed Tenderloin of Beef which Whipped Yukon Gold Potato, Bone Marrow Panna Cotta & Artisan Cabernet Salt – Steakhouse 55
  • Soy-marinated Tuna Salad – Disney’s PCH Grill
  • Pan-roasted Colorado Lamb Chop with Celery Root Purée, Sonoma Mushrooms & Zinfandel Jus – Napa Rose
  • Mushroom Meatloaf Burger on Brioche Bun with Pickled Red Onions & Tillamook Cheddar served with Fried Pickle – Carnation Cafe
  • Portobello Mushroom & Couscous Maque Choux – Blue Bayou Restaurant

Disneyland Desserts

  • French Macarons – Disneyland Central Bakery
  • Sharffen Berger Chocolate Pâté – Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel Spa & Bakery
  • 12-layer Chocolate Cake with Espresso Sabayon –  Disneyland Central Bakery

Disneyland Chefs

Not only was the food delicious, but the chefs were more than gracious in sharing their stories, inspiration and culinary secrets. They were passionate about sharing the flavors behind their restaurants’ menus as well as answering any questions attendees may have had about their techniques and backgrounds. Having the chefs present took the lunch to a whole new level, providing not only a presentation of Disneyland’s featured dishes but a conversation to inspire creativity.

Executive Chef Christine Weissman

I had a unique opportunity on the final day to join a small group of fellow bloggers behind the scenes of Disneyland in their special events kitchen. We spent the morning with the charming Executive Chef Christine Weissman who shared a bit of her history and heritage with us. From Bielefeld, Germany, Chef Weissman was inspired by her father and their family-owned restaurant to enter the culinary field. She trained under Martin Oexle, a celebrity chef from Germany, where she learned that the key to success was in the attention to detail. As the Executive Chef of the Disneyland Resorts, she oversees Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, Central Bakery, catering and the three hotels of the Disneyland Resort.

Executive Chef Christine Weissman

Chef Weissman treated us to a demonstration of a the traditional German dumpling, spätzle. She got down and dirty mixing the dough by hand, showing off the tacky texture and small bubbles that are desired for the perfect batter. The techniques of both a spätzle board and press were used to drop the dumplings into boiling water before they were finished off in a generous sauté of butter. As one who has always loved this German dish, this demonstration was one of the highlights of my conference experience.

Executive Chef Christine Weissman

The demonstration (and our lunch) was completed with a savory mushroom soufflé and mushroom ragu. The plating of the three was testament to Chef Weissman’s focus on detail. The splash of roasted red pepper sauce was just what the soufflé needed to give it a slight kick and a sprinkle of assorted micro greens added color and crunch.

Executive Chef Christine Weissman

If you’ve ever wondered what an event catered for food bloggers looks like behind the scenes, this is it. Cameras and iPhones galore! I can guarantee that everyone in attendance thoroughly enjoyed their time with Chef Christine Weissman. Many many thanks to both Chef Weissman and the Disney Events Team for allowing us to participate in such a unique event.

Disney Scavenger Hunt

After seeing all of the lesser known fine dining options of the Disneyland Resort, we were led on a scavenger hunt of the best foods found throughout the parks. I can honestly say that I could eat my weight in Mikey shaped beignets and fresh churros any day!

A million thanks to Babette and her team for cultivating such an inspiring atmosphere. TECHmunch travels throughout the year. I highly encourage you to pick a city near you and join the fun. I’m beyond excited to do it all again in San Francisco on October 10, 2014!