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Photo by Rob Bartlett

Chef Aimee Rivera is the boss at Victoria & Albert’s, one of the finest restaurants in Orlando 

Puerto Rican-born chef and Johnson & Wales grad Aimee Rivera worked under the venerable Scott Hunnel at Victoria & Albert's as a sous-chef before assuming the title of chef de cuisine. She's now one of Orlando's highest-profile female chefs, overseeing the culinary operations of one of the finest restaurants in the city.

What are you doing to make the restaurant more sustainable? Fortunately, at Victoria & Albert's we offer a dégustation menu and source specifically for our dishes. We source sustainable seafood – currently at Victoria & Albert's, our sustainable seafood items are the Patagonian toothfish from off of the coast of Australia and the abalone from Monterey, California. [Also] we have the benefit of being part of a multi-culinary operation, so in the rare case we cannot use something, we are able to share that product with any of our sister Disney locations.

For the past 26 years, food items that are prepared but unserved are collected from Walt Disney World Resort kitchens by Disney Harvest and distributed to [the] local community through the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. From food scraps to cooking oil, we aim to get the most out of our waste and actually derive energy from it. Food scraps at Walt Disney World get diverted from a landfill to Harvest Power, a facility that converts organic waste into renewable energy.

As a chef, are there challenges when you run the kitchen but don't own the restaurant? At Disney, culinary leaders and front-of-the-house managers are empowered to run the locations like they were our own. The Disney brand is already associated with excellence in food and service. Guests that visit us expect their experience to be unparalleled.

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What effect has your immigrant experience, or migrant experience seeing you're from Puerto Rico, had on the restaurant's evolution? The evolution of the restaurant and its menu is based solely on my drive as a culinary professional.

What was your very first food addiction? My mother has always been an incredible cook and makes the best mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish made out of smashed fried green plantains with the addition of salt pork and lots of garlic and served as an accompaniment to any meat or seafood. That was a staple in my home and by far the most addictive. ( ▲


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