This Women’s History Month, meet Chef Beyla Garcia, Sous Chef at Jaleo at Disney Springs. She’s one of the amazing female chefs working to bring delicious creations to Guests of all ages and backgrounds at Walt Disney World Resort.
It’s no secret that the food at Walt Disney World Resort is pretty incredible! Whether you’re dining in the theme parks or spending an evening indulging in all of the tasty delights available at different restaurants throughout the hotels and at Disney Springs, you have the chance to enjoy some seriously great eats. And many are actually created by powerhouse female chefs like Chef Beyla, Sous Chef at Jaleo at Disney Springs!
We were lucky enough to interview Chef Beyla during Women’s History Month via email to learn more about her career within the restaurant industry, how she finds inspiration and ideas for her delicious creations, and so much more.
How Chef Beyla Found Her Passion for Cooking
Cooking has long played a central role in Chef Beyla’s life. She comes from a family of foodies, and she first learned how to cook alongside her parents: “My parents in Venezuela have a cooking school, and since they oversaw this cooking school, they were really on top of me to learn how to cook. As I learned more recipes and techniques, I really started to enjoy cooking.”
But she wasn’t always a natural – at least not right away! “When I was just 20 years old, I didn’t know how to cook anything. I couldn’t even fry an egg,” Chef Beyla says.
As Chef Beyla learned increasingly more about cooking and refined her skills, she became particularly interested in teaching others, just like her parents before her. The combination of sharing her knowledge and skills while also continuing to learn as a student herself offered the perfect balance. “I love to teach, but in order to teach, I also love to learn new things every day,” syas Chef Beyla. “In Venezuela, we have the saying ‘no te acuestes a dormir sin aprender algo nuevo,’ which means ‘don’t go to sleep without learning something new.’”
But for Chef Beyla, another key part of her love of cooking comes from the magic inherent in creating delicious food for others. “Most importantly, I love seeing the look on peoples’ faces when we serve them a plate of food,” she says.
Why Women’s History Month is So Important
For Chef Beyla, Women’s History Month is such a key moment of celebration because “…it gives women in the restaurant industry a voice to tell their story on how they made it — especially in a male dominated industry. Even to this day there are certain roles that society places on women, but I feel that women can be whatever they want to be in life. Our stories should inspire other women.”
While there can be challenges along the path of any career, Chef Beyla notes that simply being a woman doesn’t have to limit the possibilities or opportunities before any chef. “In the industry, you see a lot of male chefs, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It is a role for anyone that has discipline and a good work ethic,” she explains. “You don’t need to think that the odds are against you because you are a female. You just need to show up each day and put in the work.
And she likes to take a positive view of any challenges that might arise. “In general, there are always challenges that you face becoming a chef. Sometimes it feels more difficult being a female chef in a male-dominant position,” Chef Beyla points out. But for her, perspective matters more than any potential challenges. “I constantly remember that respect is always earned and not given. Women chefs need to be strong. Some days there are good days and bad days, but I try every day to come in with a positive attitude,” Chef Beyla explains.
Chef Beyla’s Sources of Inspiration (and Favorite Foods to Cook!)
We asked Chef Beyla where she draws inspiration for her incredibly tasty creations in Jaleo’s kitchen. And, like many artists, her ideas come from a variety of different places and experiences. Even a small spark can ignite her creativity!
“The cool thing about food is that it is used in all aspects of life,” Chef Beyla explains. “When I cook for my family and friends, I think of a product that I want to cook. Sometimes when I am out shopping at the grocery store, I see things on the shelf and my mind starts to create. Whether it’s strawberries in season or a special fish, I am always thinking about the product first and then my creativity starts to take place.”
When she’s whipping up dishes at Walt Disney World Resort, Chef Beyla also draws on her experience working with Chef José Andrés. “At Jaleo Disney Springs, we really follow José Andrés’s vision. As the Chef in the prep team, cooking tortilla de patatas or pisto manchego (stewed vegetables), I think about the times when he (José Andrés) came to the restaurant and showed us different techniques or the right way to do things. We get inspired by José and our Head Chef, Chef Kristopher Anderson,” she notes.
When it comes to cooking for herself, however, Chef Beyla’s process is more fluid. “In my personal life, I don’t really use too many recipes when I cook,” she says. Her favorite dishes are those that left a lasting impression – like one that dates back to culinary school. “[One of my favorites] that comes to my mind, has to go back to my culinary school graduation. We made a roulade with vaquiro (wild pig), pineapple, sweet potato and different vegetables and Asian flavors. I still remember the dish to this day.”
Learn more about the amazing women behind Disney magic throughout Women’s History Month in our newest issue of WDW Magazine! In our “Women Behind the Magic” issue, we’re celebrating all of the women who work to bring that magic to life at every level with special features, insights, and so much more.
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