Friday, October 26, 2012

What my Disney College Program Externship is like (in detail)

I am honored to be working at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Production Bakery in Walt Disney World for my Externship. The production bakery is inside The Brown Derby, centered in the Hollywood Studios theme park, and provides baked goods and desserts for The Brown Derby, Mamma Melrose, Hollywood & Vine, and various quick serve foodservice locations.

My responsibilities include high volume production from mixes and recipes of ingredients scaled out and produced by the baker. None of our products are made using IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) items that are baked off and packaged like my first bakery job experience, or shipped in prebaked and just decorated like my recent bakery job before I pursued this internship with Disney. Being that it is a high volume facility, everything is on a bigger scale than anything I have ever done in the foodservice industry before.

I am on the afternoon shift, so after I clock in, get hat and apron on, and wash my hands, I clean up anything that was left by the morning shift and report to those higher-up than me and find out which of the two stations I will be working that day. The production list for that day’s work is divided into those two stations, either working on The Spot or baking in The Back.

The Spot is a machine with a pump and a hand-held wand designed to deposit an adjustable pre-measured amount of batter at adjusted speeds into various containers. For example, an entire batch of chocolate mousse can be made and the whole large mixer work bowl is wheeled over to The Spot. The intake is lowered into the bowl, the pump is run a few times into a waste bin to make sure everything is running properly, and then tray after tray of pre-set plastic cups can be filled with precisely 90ml of chocolate mousse at whatever speed the operator is comfortable with, to ensure an accurate, speedy, and precision distribution of batters and so forth. The Spot can portion out up to 100ml of product and speeds ranging from about once at a fraction of a second to once every 3-5seconds.

When we are done with one product, we run large amounts of super hot water through the system until it runs clear, and rinse the outside. Then start the next product with several pumps into a waste bin until the product forces any residual water out and is now consistent, and then proceed with portioning out the next item. At the end of the day, the operator takes apart the machine, thouroughly cleans all pieces with hot soapy water, lubricates key areas of the mechanisms with food-grade foodservice approved lubricant, reassembles the machine, and stores it for the following work day.

Products I have portioned out with The Spot include: red velvet cupcakes, individual carrot cakes, individual chocolate cakes, chocolate cupcakes, yellow cake for shortcakes, chocolate, pumpkin, and amoretto mousses into serving bowls for buffets and individual serving cups for quick-service, ganache on top of the individual chocolate cakes, plain and chocolate cheesecakes to make little marbled cheesecakes, mousses into silpat molds for celebration desserts decorated later, and so on. Once you get going on the spot, you keep working until everything is portioned out. This will usually take the first 5-6 hours of the shift.

During that same time frame, those working the back are focused on the bottom half of the to-do list. This involves scaling out ingredients, mixing the doughs and batters, portioning out product by smoothing onto sheet trays for sheet cake, scooping into hundreds of little cups or cupcake liners, mixing up gigantic matches of cookie dough and weighing it out into 8lb balls to be fabricated into cookies later, building trays if cereal treats or 7-layer desserts, large quantities of foccasia dough, sorbets, assembling the grapefruit cake entremets, and on and on and so forth.

All of the product to be baked gets done, and everything on the spot is finished before anyone takes our one break, which is also lunch. So, when we arrive at 11:30 we all work to get stuff done and take our break together for 30 minutes to one hour, depending on how busy we are. After lunch, our cooled items are un-molded, wrapped, tagged, and taken out to the freezers. Or the hundreds and hundreds of little black 6oz bowls of cakes are given their lids, placed onto a clean tray, and sent to the freezers.

Then we set bowls or cups on trays on speed-racks so everything in set for the next day. Finally, everyone helps scrub all work tables, carts, and the insides of our refrigerators, clean and dry everything off, put everything away, and clock-out as a group.

I am still progressing as I continue to learn the different recipes and techniques used in this bakery to accomplish such a high volume of product. I observe what others are doing around me to pick up tips and techniques from them as well. All so that I can work clean, quick, efficiently, and make consistently presentable and enticing products for our clients. As I have proceeded through this process, I have found better ways to do the different tasks that work well for me, and I will pass them on to the next intern as the previous intern has done for me. Every day we are all improving our quality, quantity, and speed of production.

This internship with Walt Disney World has an incalculable and invaluable direct impact on my work ethic in general, my skills as a budding pastry chef, my marketable skills for future employment, experience to see how a wildly successful foodservice operation works and how I would take some of those practices or improve or adapt them for my own foodservice establishment down the road. My goal is to use this externship resume and experience boost to continue to circuit all kinds of foodservice establishments to hone all of my skills and interests while I finish up school and work to a point in my career and development that my foodservice foundation will be strong enough for investors to launch me on to fulfill my dream to bring edible art to all corners of the world.

My specialty is chocolate and sugar work, with a high interest in plated deserts and edible sculptures and arrangements. I also want to learn fruit and vegetable garnishing and ice carving to supplement show pieces and such for resorts, conventions, country clubs, receptions, special occasions, and destination travel spots.

The Disney Brand includes all of these fields and more, and I hope to use this College Program internship to secure a professional internship when I graduate from Aii with Disney, which will lead to a full-time position with the company. This corporation is THE Benchmark by which all other brands and experiences are compared. I would not find a better company to grow in. And the clients who frequent these resorts and parks are the exact cliental that my passion for edible art is tailored to.

The best way to accomplish several lifetimes' worth of aspirations and accomplishments?

Those who study how to achieve these things say to surround yourself with like-minded successful people. Gain every work-set skill or experience possible; even if it means working for free. Market yourself as an adaptable, dependable, hard worker who is eager to learn and produce superior work. Network with everyone you meet and make not only a good first impression, but a positive lasting impression as well, so you can network with these people in the future and they will not only remember you, but help you.

All of these things are pre-built into the College Program internship with Disney. There is no better place where I could be pursuing my dream. After all, Walt Disney World is Where Dreams Come True.

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