Q & A with Chef Nubia Renteria, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa (Mexicana)
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Hispanic Lifestyle is pleased to share stories of Latinas making their mark In The Marketplace. Spotlight, Pastry Sous Chef Nubia Renteria
What is your hometown?
Los Angeles, Calif.
Cerritos Community College – Pastry and Savory Programs
How many years as a chef?
How and when did you become interested in becoming a chef?
I think I have known my whole life. As long as I can remember even as a child I loved watching cooking shows on TV and when my mom or grandmother were cooking I wanted to be there and watch exactly what they were doing. I even had a special step stool I used that allowed me to see what they were doing.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I enjoy being creative and making people happy with the desserts I create.
Why do you continue to be a chef?
I love being able to combine my love of food with creativity. I love working around people who are just as passionate about food as I am.
What are you known for professionally?
Cakes! I live and breathe wedding cakes! I am a self-taught decorator. My parents owned a donut shop when I was younger. My sister and I had to work there after school and during the summer and I would get bored so I just started making cakes and decorating them.
Year started with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts?
Why did you choose to work for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts?
Disney has always been known for quality. I think the food and beverage here at the resort are a true testament to that. I came here because I wanted to be the best and in order to achieve that, you need to learn from the best.
Current role with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts? Describe your responsibilities:
I am the pastry sous chef at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
How did you arrive at your current position? What was your path?
I started at the Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel as an entry-level pastry cook. I was fresh out of culinary school. Within six months I was a lead. When Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa opened a few months later, I had the opportunity to open the hotel as a lead baker. About five years ago I was promoted to pastry sous chef.
Are Disney kitchens different? If so, why?
We get a lot of creative freedom at Disney. We are also challenged more on the creative side than other kitchens I have worked in.
Who is your biggest inspiration or culinary idol and why?
Chef Daniel Humm. His attention to detail, seasonality, and finesse really inspire me to be better. His kitchen motto is “make it nice” and that is what I try to teach my cast members. Attention to detail and always “make it nice.”
Who helped you get in to the industry?
My culinary school really helped me by setting me up with the right tools and information to get me started in my career.
What are you most passionate about professionally?
I am most passionate about wedding cakes. I love the whole process of speaking to the couple during their taste meal and deciding on their cake with them. Then I have to figure out how I will bring this cake to life. Finally, I get to see the couple’s faces when they see the cake for the first time. It makes me happy to think that years later they will look at pictures of their cake and remember the experience.
What is one problem you are best at solving in the workplace?
Complicated cake structures
What three words would your co-workers use to describe you?
Resourceful, cheerful, troubleshooter
Describe your culinary style and where your influences come from.
My culinary style is modern style with classic flavors. My influences come from my Mexican background, social media, books, and everyday life.
Favorite kitchen gadget?
Favorite spice and why?
Annatto seeds. I love the color it gives to food.
Favorite junk/snack food?
Flaming Hot Cheetos
You run a restaurant, but what do you cook for your family?
I like cooking traditional Mexican food at home.
What food or beverage holds childhood memories for you?
Sopa de fideo. It was my favorite as a child and is still my go-to comfort food.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy?
I enjoy traveling and discovering new food spots.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be and why?
A wedding planner. I love planning parties and especially weddings.
What’s always in the fridge at home?
Cheese, corn tortillas, and homemade salsa
What would be impossible for you to give up?
What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry?
My advice is to be persistent and practice your craft.