Chef Dom has been at the helm in the kitchen at Cítricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for a little more than a year, joining the Disney culinary team after working in top-tier restaurants in the Northeastern United States. A native of Saint-Tropez, France, his cooking style was influenced by his grandmother, who cooked every day.
“I remember helping my grandmother prepare legendary culinary feasts, foraging with my uncle for wild mushrooms and helping tend the family garden,” says Filoni.
We met Chef Dom in the private Chef’s Domain at Cítricos for this Q&A:
Tell us about this beautiful room we’re sitting in, the Chef’s Domain.
The Chef Domain is one of our best-kept secrets – with a door right into the kitchen, we create personalized menus for up to 12 guests. It’s quiet, it’s private, and Stig Jacobsen, our sommelier and proprietor, can pair amazing wines with each course. And we can special order ingredients like duck or rabbit, for instance, for our guests in the Chef’s Domain.
Describe your cooking style.
French Mediterranean with freshest seasonal ingredients, cooked simply. I’m French with Corsican origins, and grew up on the French Riviera where cooking and eating was a family affair. Growing up with my grandma cooking all the time, when I see polenta, rabbit, beautiful tomatoes, fresh pasta – those food always bring me back to the moments in the kitchen with her.
What brought you from the French Riviera to the United States?
By age 14, I started formal culinary training in nearby Lycée Technique Hotelier de Hyères, graduating at 17. I worked in small resorts in the south of France, and in 1995 came to the U.S. with one of my co-workers who purchased and renovated a historic restaurant in Philadelphia.
And you’ve received some very special accolades throughout your career.
I was inducted into the Maitres Cuisiniers de France in 2003, the youngest French master chef in the U.S. I was named “Rising Star Chef Philadelphia” by StarChefs.com in 2004, and on Food & Wine magazine’s list of “Best New Chefs” in 2004. It’s been fun!
What’s new on the menu at Cítricos?
Rather than completely changing the menu, I tend to add seasonal touches to dishes. For instance, cauliflower soup is on the menu now, poured tableside with fresh Romanesco and cauliflower, topped with fresh Burgundy truffles and a drizzle of white truffle oil. I work with what’s fresh at the market, so you might see peas one day, asparagus the next. I love using Florida seafood, like the Key West shrimp with pasta, baby spinach, a spicy Puttanesca sauce and Parmesan.
Any guest favorites?
Our cheese board and charcuterie are wonderful with a craft cocktail. The beet salad that’s on the menu now, with fresh hearts of palm and goat cheese, is a winner. And the arancini [fried risotto balls] stay on the menu — our guests love them hot and crispy, served with a little mascarpone and a simple tomato sauce. While the oak-grilled beef filet is most requested, the pan-seared scallops and Kurobuta pork porterhouse are close seconds.
Tell us about the beverage program at Cítricos.
We specialize in French, Spanish and Italian wines, and sommelier Stig Jacobsen is always on the lookout for great new vintages to share with our guests. We also have the Napa Technology wine dispensing system that allows us to serve very special labels by the glass – California Grill is the only other restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort with the system. And we have a cordial cart in the dining room, a very special way to end a meal with a liqueur.
Cítricos generally is only open for dinner, but tell us about Brunch With a Twist.
We are having lots of fun with Brunch With a Twist – all of the Grand Floridian chefs collaborate on a menu – our next one is noon May 6. [For reservations, call 407-939-3463.] We do five courses, one for each chef: I’m joined by Executive Chef Scott Hunnel, Chef Noah Estabrook, Chef Nick Mussara, Chef Lawrence Searl and Executive Pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek, representing Victoria & Albert’s, Cítricos, Narcoossee’s, Grand Floridian Cafe and the Grand Floridian Bakery. It’s a real wow.
What’s next for Citricos?
We’re working on lots of exciting changes, but nothing I can share right now. Check back with me in six months!
Finally, tell us — what’s always in the fridge at home?
Sriracha, vegetables, fresh herbs, hummus, salad and homemade truffle vinaigrette. Simple!