Culinary Magic: Culinary Careers in Orlando's Theme Parks

Culinary Magic: Culinary Careers in Orlando's Theme Parks

Universal Orlando Resort is changing the way the world thinks about theme park food. It's an adventure in food that no theme park has attempted before.

Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter has delivered on its promise to immerse guests fully in the magical world of J.K. Rowling's films and books. Universal's new "park within a park" has become a runaway hit with both fans and industry analysts alike.

However, the "Wizarding World's" real hit has been its mystic cuisine.

Fashioned by some of Universal's most talented chefs, the area features a carefully crafted bewitching menu of Rotisserie-smoked chicken, char grilled ribs and turkey legs, as well as British pub staples like fish and chips, shepherd's pie and Cornish pasties. There are even choices for those craving a healthier meal that includes potato leek soup, split pea and ham soup.

Universal's head chef, Stephen Jayson, was instrumental in working directly with J.K. Rowling to recreate all of the beloved items from the books. Jayson became Executive Chef for all food operations for Universal in 1989, and was later accredited to the success of the popular Mythos themed restaurant.

Mythos, located within The Lost Continent in Universal's Islands Of Adventure theme park, has been voted, an impressive 6 years in a row, "Best Theme Park Restaurant in the World," by Theme Park Insider.

When asked by Theme Park Insider what the idea was for Mythos, Jayson replied, "We wanted our food service program to be equal to that of anything that visitors would find anywhere in America."

Creating A Magical Menu

Potter fans will instantly recognize many of the names on the menus from their favorite Potter books and films.

The J.K. Rowling-approved Butterbeer reportedly tastes like both shortbread cookies and butterscotch. It manages to stay foamy the entire way down, thanks to a two-part pouring process. Richard Florell, Universal's senior vice president in charge of food and beverages, calls it "magic."

The cold and creamy, frothy drink is the most popular food item at Universal Orlando, according to Universal spokesman Tom Schroder, with visitors lining up to try it.

Jayson and team also created a number of the candied treats that guests find at Honeydukes, Hogsmeade's sweets shop. The offerings include chocolate frogs, Treacle Fudge, Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans, Cauldron Cakes, scones, pumpkin tarts, and rock cakes.

Desserts on the Three Broomsticks menu include strawberry peanut butter ice cream, deep-dish apple pie and chocolate-berry trifle.

Employment

If you've ever dreamed of creating items from scratch like the famed Butterbeer, or creating culinary delights like those featured at Mythos, then a career in the culinary arts is for you.

With nearly 5,400 restaurants--not to mention sun-drenched theme parks like Walt Disney World Resort--Orlando is an exciting city in which to prepare for opportunities in this dynamic, growing industry.

One of the most sought after careers in the culinary field is that of the Head Chef. Chefs are responsible for creating recipes and ensuring appealing presentation, while other cooks and food preparation workers prepare individual foods for meals, with duties such as peeling vegetables and monitoring temperatures. Chefs are also the most skilled cooks in the kitchen and use their creativity and knowledge of food to develop and prepare recipes.

A sous chef, or sub chef, is the second-in-command and runs the kitchen in the absence of the chef. Many chefs earn fame both for themselves and for their kitchens because of the quality and distinctive nature of the food they serve.

Training & Salary

Most top chefs pursue formal training through culinary institutions or vocational programs in the culinary arts, culinary management, or pasty arts. Many programs include an externship or apprenticeship opportunity.

Salaries can vary greatly depending on the type of establishment, and the level of skill. The following statistics are for the Orlando metro area (from bls.gov):

Chefs and head cooks: $52,220
Food preparation and serving supervisors: $35,600
Restaurant cooks: $24,660
Food preparation workers: $17,910

Top Culinary Programs & Cooking Schools in Orlando

The following schools of higher education are recommended for careers in the culinary arts:

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