March is National Women’s History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the contribution and achievements of women throughout history … and in our day-to-day lives. With over 22,000 cast members in Food & Beverage at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, I wanted to shine the spotlight on just a few of the many talented and passionate women that make a difference each and every day for our guests and fellow cast members.

On every Thursday this month, I will give you a glimpse of the breadth and depth of female talent Disney has to offer. All of these ladies perform different roles within Disney, and have varied life journeys – personally, educationally, and professionally. But they all have one thing in common: a dedication to excellence. Whether that be one plate/glass at a time in their restaurant, mentoring/teaching fellow cast members behind the scenes, or making Disney magic for our guests.

Let me introduce you to the first of our Disney Women of Food & Beverage!

Aimée Rivera

Hometown: Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Years in the Food & Beverage Industry: 23 years
Year Started with Disney: 2002
Current Role: Chef de Cuisine, Victoria & Albert’s, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Walt Disney World Resort
Education/Accomplishments: Johnson & Wales University; Aimée is at the helm of the celebrated Victoria & Albert’s kitchen – the only restaurant in Florida to receive the AAA Five Diamond Award and Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award

Delicious Details: Culinary style is classic with modern influences; her mother is her biggest inspiration and taught her to make the best buñuelos; tweezers are her favorite kitchen gadget; has a passion for lipstick; black pepper is her favorite spice (it enhances almost any dish); described as energetic, passionate, and detail-oriented.

What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry? 
Food & Beverage is a challenging industry that is very demanding. You need to be firm in what you believe and work with integrity.

Alison Moore

Hometown: Howell, Mich.
Years in the Food & Beverage Industry: Since she was 16 … many years!
Year Started with Disney: 1995
Current Role: Senior Production Manager, Food & Beverage at Disney California Adventure Park West, Disneyland Resort
Education/Accomplishments: Community college; industry and operational training and experience; Court of Master Sommeliers – Introductory Sommelier Diploma Level Two; Spirit of Disneyland Award

Delicious Details: LOVES her kitchen gadgets and always has a really sharp knife – well actually 10 sharp knives; makes a mean lasagna and her sons are partial to her stuffed shells; feels a perfect wine list has something for everyone but is not overwhelming; avid reader and a fan of murder or police mysteries; described as passionate, positive, and authentic.

What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry?
First of all, eat out often. Then, jump in with both feet! It’s an amazing business and there is so much potential to do so many things. Always start at the bottom and work every role so you can truly understand what you ask of others as you become the leader. Don’t let others derail you – go after what you want.

Debbi Sacleux

Hometown: Summerville, S.C.
Years in the Food & Beverage Industry: 35 years
Year Started with Disney: 1993
Current Role: Proprietor, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort
Education/Accomplishments: University of South Carolina; Court of Master Sommeliers – Introductory Sommelier Diploma Level One; Walt Disney World Legacy Award

Delicious Details: Started in Euro Disney (Disneyland Paris); Cherries Jubilee is her fondest food memory; creating new memories through food and beverage is her favorite part of the job; loves a bold cabernet sauvignon; best advice from mom: 99% of what we do in life is just breathing so don’t stress over things you cannot control; described as diva, funny, and energetic.

What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry?
It is not for everyone. It is very demanding and if you are not a person who likes to “serve” you will not be successful. You have to enjoy being a “foodie.” My advice to anyone who comes into the service industry is to be true to who you are and work hard. Hard work does pay off and really, it’s not hard work if you have fun doing what you do.

Julia Thrash

Hometown: St. Clairsville, Ohio
Years in the Food & Beverage Industry: 9 years
Year Started with Disney: 2009 on the Disney College Program
Current Role: Chef, Liberty Tree Tavern, Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort
Education/Accomplishments: Le Cordon Blue (Pittsburgh)

Delicious Details: Started as a music major in college but realized culinary was her passion and transferred to culinary school; Julia Child is her inspiration as she never let rejection discourage her and proved you can have success at any point in life; loves antique shopping and collecting books; described as creative, passionate, and organized.

What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry?
Never be afraid to ask questions. Work hard and focus on even the small task that may seem meaningless. There is always something to learn from each situation. Try to gain as much knowledge from everyone you meet and most importantly never give up. The journey will not be easy, but it is worth it.

Mechelle Miller

Hometown: Anaheim, Calif.
Years in the Food & Beverage Industry: 17 years
Year Started with Disney: 1999
Current Role: Production Manager, Ventures and Festivals, Disneyland Resort, leading a Cast of over 250
Education/Accomplishments: Cal State Fullerton; Cicerone® Program Certified Beer Server Level One

Delicious Details: Started working at Disneyland at 16 years old; daughter, Ava, is the inspiration behind everything Mechelle does – teaching her the importance of balance in life; surfer; loves red wine, pizza, and making her mom’s lasagna; described as ambitious, driven, and caring.

What advice would you give young women wanting to get into the food and beverage industry?
Educate yourself as much as possible and never stop learning. You can learn so much from your peers and fellow Cast Members about the industry and the latest trends. Surround yourself with mentors that push you outside of your comfort zone and that you can learn from. And lastly, be very passionate about what you do as it will show with your Cast and with the guests.