The Incredible Art of Making Delectable BBQ at Walt Disney World
Did you know that today is National Barbecue Day? For all you meat lovers out there, you wouldn’t necessarily think of Disney World as a go-to BBQ destination but the barbecue being served up at Disney is definitely worth celebrating. Disney went right to the source of BBQ deliciousness, Chef Assistants Conrad Thelwell, and Rich Morrow to find out some of the tricks of the trade that make their BBQ dishes so delicious!
BBQ Brings People Together!
Conrad, who is currently a chef assistant at Regal Eagle Smokehouse at the American Adventure in EPCOT talked about the communal nature of tucking into some good BBQ saying, “Nobody is meant to eat barbecue alone. It brings people together.”
Before serving up delectable treats at Regal Eagle, Conrad worked at the Crystal Palace, Disney’s Yacht Club, and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and enjoys teaching new cast members some of his tried-and-true barbecue techniques. Conrad explains, “I get to help train them and motivate them to push ahead, and that transitions to the guests at the end of the day.”
Conrad added that the team is always bouncing ideas off one another to come up with that next show-stopping dish!
Rich is a chef assistant at the brand-new Roundup Rodeo BBQ at Hollywood Studios. He said that being a part of the opening team was a reunion of sorts because he’s worked at 84 restaurants around Walt Disney World and really had an opportunity to form powerful connections with colleagues. This definitely furthers the notion It takes a community to prepare and enjoy barbecue: after all, you can’t eat it or make it alone.
BBQ is All About Precision
Did you know that Roundup Rodeo BBQ alone whips of 1,000 – 2,000 pounds of brisket, 900 pounds of ribs, 900 pounds of chicken, and 1,300 pounds of coiled sausage in a single day! However, despite the hectic pace of a Disney eatery, Rich said that incredible care is still taken in the kitchen to get things just right. Rich explains, “It’s a process. It’s an art.”
Rich’s day starts at 3:30 am when he must fire up the smoker for the day ahead. He will check on the smoker repeatedly throughout the day to make sure the oak is burning correctly and that just the right temperature is maintained! Rich must also make sure that the brisket and ribs are mopped with vinegar mixture each hour! Now that’s what I call TLC!
With such a precise process, careful training is crucial. Before Roundup Rodeo BBQ opened, the team shadowed the crew over at Regal Eagle to learn about working with the smoker. This was an operation that Conrad was in charge of, bringing the two assistant chefs together!
“What’s unique about barbecue is that everyone does it a little differently,” Rich shares. For example, Roundup Rodeo BBQ and Regal Eagle both serve up the same barbecue treats but with tastes distinctly their own. Regal Eagle Smokehouse at EPCOT offers a Memphis-style rub on their ribs. Over at Round-up Rodeo BBQ, it’s all about the Carolina Rub! The way the meat is seasoned and salted really changes the flavor of the dishes. However, one thing remains constant, BBQ, especially ribs, requires a clean bite-through. “The smoking process changes every day,” explains Conrad. “You just want to get to the point where we’re all producing the best content possible.”
The Secret Behind Disney’s Amazing BBQ
So after learning a bit more about the process behind Disney World’s incredible BBQ offerings, it’s not surprising that both Conrad and Rich think family is at the heart of making amazing barbecue at Disney. When you sit down at one of Disney World’s barbecue restaurants, you feel the tangible heart and spirit of family.
Bringing Barbecue Back To the Communities
Conrad says that when at home he shares his barbecue skills with his neighbors. Rich on the other hand is always happy to pick up extra shifts to spend more time with his “culinary family. ” “I wouldn’t have been at Disney so long if I didn’t take pride in the work that I was doing,” he says. Passion, art, and family — Disney’s best-kept barbecue secret!
Regal Eagle Smokehouse is a quick-service eatery at the American Adventure Pavilion at EPCOT. It’s the perfect place to go for a comforting quick bite to eat with barbecue treats that definitely deliver.
Roundup Rodeo Barbecue on the other hand is Hollywood Studios’ newest table service dining experience. That means if you want a reservation it pays to book well in advance. Guests can book 60 days beforehand!
Readers are encouraged to keep following along with MickeyBlog for further Walt Disney World news and updates. We’ll be coming to you LIVE! from the theme parks each and every week.
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