Moving Up, Moving On

Keep Moving Forward

It seems that I've typed that before. I may even have another blog with the same title. It's merely coincidence that it's a phrase coined by Walt Disney himself. Yet, that coincidence has given me much comfort in the past few weeks as I've had to make and come to terms with a very difficult decision.

As most of you know, this whole Disney thing has been a crazy, fun and almost unbelievable experience from the start. I've now worked in three different kitchens at three very different locations. First I did my Culinary Program at Port Orleans Riverside. At that time, my only goal was to be hired on as a “regular” castmember. In August, that happened. At the time, my only option was to go part time and put my name on a waiting list for full-time employment. I agreed and was sent (with an enourmous amount of apprehension) to the All-Star Movies Resort. I was pleasantly surprised by that kitchen and enjoyed my short time there. Three months later, I received a call from Casting that a full-time position had opened up at Fort Wilderness in Pioneer Hall. The idea of the location (a campground AND a show) excited me and I couldn't wait to get there. Little did I know that this location would excede even my high expectations.

In a kitchen job the key to a great location is all in the people – and the people here are, for the most part, outstanding. I adore the sous chefs here – even my “least favorite” is charming and sweet. My “favorite”, Michael is someone I would just take everywhere with me if I could. He's smart and funny and kind but cares deeply about this place and expects people to work hard and work right. I've learned things from him that I will never forget. My executive chef, Ernie is equally as wonderful. I'd love to just go have a beer with these people and am so honored to work for them. Most of my co-workers are simply amazing. I love the laughs we share, the teamwork we nurture and the fun we have while working long and hard. These people have become a weird sort of family to me in such a short time.

The downside of working here is the work itself. In my current classification, I get to work 4 stations. I can work the buffet, where I transport food from the kitchen to the buffet line and take dirty dishes back to the stewards, I can work ribs for the show (my favorite), where I cut ribs, bowl up beans and make a few salads for the buffet, I can work salads for the show where I put together buckets of salad, followed by plates of strawberry shortcake (repeat 3x) or I can work chicken – the only station that allows me to really “cook” and the one that nearly breaks me every time I do it.

So a few weeks ago when I received a phone call offering me a promotion and a transfer to the Garden Grill at EPCOT, I was instantly conflicted. The idea of being at EPCOT, of working at a restaurant that serves things like Beef tenderloin and sustainable fish of the day as opposed to fried chicken sounded great. Leaving these people I love – not so great. And so began long agonizing days of weighing pros and cons. One day I'd feel certain that I would take the transfer – the next, certain that I'd decline it. There are very valid arguments for both decisions and either would be “acceptable”. Then I remembered a conversation I had with one of my very first chefs here, Rafael. At the time, I was on the culinary program and was discussing with him my desire to come on full-time and “do more”. I had noticed that many many people had been at that location for years and years, doing the same thing everyday. I was concerned that this was the “norm” and asked how to avoid that. His response was that people tended to get comfortable in one spot, doing one thing and grew complacent. They stopped moving forward. I didn't understand that at all, until I got here. You see, even though I find the work rather blah, I love coming to work each day because of the people. It's scary to think that I might jump overboard into an ocean of awfulness and wake up everyday with regret. But I've been scared, taken risks and jumped overboard so many times in the past couple of years that it would be crazy to let that fear stop me now. I have yet to regret anything, at all.

So all of that to explain to you that I'm taking another leap. As of June 16, I'll be over at The Land Pavilion at EPCOT (home of the ever-popular ride, Soarin') and the Garden Grill. The Garden Grill is a great little restaurant that imparts a theme of farm-to-table, fresh, green eating. I'll let you know if this is even remotely true or just pure Disney show. I'll be making new friends and learning new things and hopefully growing in the process. I'm going to Keep Moving Forward – until I can move no more.




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3 responses to “Moving Up, Moving On

  1. What a joy to watch your growth – even from afar. You and your beautiful family are missed here in Texas but we couldn’t be prouder of the smiles you bring as your cook and the smiles Ty captures every day for your wonderful guests.

  2. Kim Martinez

    Good for you! I’m sure there will be amazing people at your new location, too. Blessings and enjoy this next adventure.

  3. Congratulations! Best of luck on the new spot and as the Brady Bunch said:

    We’re gonna keep on, keep on , keep on movin
    Gonna keep on, keep on, keep on grooving
    Keep on singing and dancing all through the night!

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