As executive chef of Walt Disney World's Swan and Dolphin Resorts, Robert Ciborowski oversees operations of the 17 on-site restaurants and the banquet operations that serve more than one million guests per year. While he'll be cooking for a smaller crowd at his Beard House dinner on Thursday, June 18, his aim is no less ambitious: a history of haute cuisine traced through culinary tributes to gastronomic giants like Auguste Escoffier and JBF Award winner Alain Ducasse. We spoke to him about who had the most influence on his cooking: his grandmother or the three heavy-hitters who inspired his dinner's menu.
What is your inspiration behind the menu for this Beard House event?
The theme is “reimagine.” We will showcase a history of chefs and their cuisines by reimagining the dishes in a way that inspires wonder.
What's a dish on your Beard House event menu that you're especially excited about or proud of, and why?
The dish I’m most excited about is the lamb course. It is a completely original dish and is a culmination of input from the Swan and Dolphin food and beverage team.
What are some of your favorite cookbooks, and why?
Escoffier: The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery. He was the father of haute cuisine and one of the inspirations behind the meal.
What’s your earliest food memory?
My earliest food memories are Sunday dinners with my family. We come from an Italian background so food was a significant part of my childhood. We used to have long, loud dinners with lots of wine!
How did you get started in the industry?
During my childhood, my grandmother would watch my siblings and I while my parents were working. To keep us entertained and out of trouble, she would have us assist her as she cooked. We helped with making potato gnocchi, kneading fresh pasta, cleaning English peas, snipping beans, grating cheese, and so much more. Being immersed in food at such a young age, and seeing the joy it brought my family during Sunday dinners, led me to naturally gravitate to cooking as a profession. By 13, I was working in kitchens so I could start to learn the craft.
If you could cook one meal for any person, who would be and what you serve them?
I would cook for my grandmother. I would serve her hand-cut tagliatelle, her bolognese sauce, and freshly grated Locatelli [Pecorino Romano]. She loved Italian cheeses.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Desire is what distinguishes great cooks from good cooks. Passion comes and goes, but desire will help define you in your craft as well as in your life.
To view our full events calendar, click here.