From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: Jennifer Fickley-Baker
Whether they’re designing the latest attractions or leading entire Parks, women around the world are using their unique talents to make Disney magic for guests every day. For Aimée Rivera, a 23-year culinary veteran and Chef de Cuisine at Walt Disney World Resort, creating magical experiences means crafting delectable, award-winning fine dining experiences that defy guest expectations.
A native of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Aimée moved to the United States in 1991 to pursue her educational journey with the dream of becoming a chef. She was inspired by her mother – her personal culinary idol – to learn as much as she could about food and cooking to bring people happiness, just as her mother had always done.
“She could cook without recipes or guidance – she just had the palate. No dish was too complicated, no culinary task too complicated, you could tell she really loved it,” Aimée shared.
Aimée pursued culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, and immediately following school, entered the culinary industry. From working in Atlanta, Georgia just as the city was getting excited for the 1996 Summer Olympics, to the Woodlands Resort & Inn, a AAA 5 Diamond resort in South Carolina, Aimee built an impressive culinary career before accepting a sous chef role at Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in 2002. Once at Disney, Aimée worked her way up to a Chef position and now in her current role as Chef de Cuisine, she oversees important restaurant aspects like menu development and scheduling, budgeting and quality control.
In Aimée’s tenure, she’s helped Victoria & Albert’s achieve impressive accolades including the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award and the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award for the restaurant’s unique and notable dining experience of combining classic Victorian elegance with haute American cuisine in a refined atmosphere.
“At Victoria & Albert’s we combine classic with modern. I love aspects of both styles,” she says. “Past travels, literature and people in the industry have helped create that experience.”
Aimee says that her coworkers would describe her as energetic, passionate and detail-oriented – all traits that help her keep up with her busy days of creating delicious dishes in an unforgettable setting.
“Food & Beverage is a challenging industry that is very demanding,” she notes. “You need to be firm in what you believe and work with integrity.”
It’s an industry that Aimée can’t imagine not being a part of. But what’s her top reason she’s continues to be a chef?
“I love food. Period.”
Here at Disney, we’re proud of how Aimee and all of our cast members put their passions to work to bring magical guests experiences to life. Stay tuned as this series continues with more remarkable stories of the #WomenBehindtheMagic!