On Saturday, February 16, 2019, I was part of a small hosted media group that was invited for a tour of the adult only experiences on the Disney Fantasy. We were only on the ship for a few hours, but any amount of time on a Disney Cruise Line ship is magical. Part of our day included participating in Palo Be Our Chef. It was a fantastic experience.
Let me start off by saying that I am not a great cook. I can handle the basics, but cooking is something that never really appealed to me. It’s more of a necessity than something that I enjoy. I went into this class with a bit of skepticism. I am glad that the Palo staff and my fellow cooks proved me wrong!
When we arrived at the restaurant we were given our chef’s outfits. After we were all ready we headed around the corner, where Chef Mickey was waiting for us. We all took pictures, then we met Salvatore from Italy, who is Palo’s Head Chef on the Disney Fantasy. We took pictures with him as well. He explained a bit about the program before we headed into the kitchen.
Everything was already set up for us in the kitchen. That meant that we didn’t have to do any measuring or cutting, which was probably a good thing. The first dish was Margherita Pizza. Chef Salvatore showed us how to make the dough, then shape it into a pizza. He made it look easy! Next was the sauce and the toppings. After Salvatore had gone through the steps, it was our turn. He wandered through our group, as did a couple of sous-chefs to help out and answer questions. I will admit that I learned something. I make pizza at home from time to time, and the dough usually ends up shaped more like a sweet potato than a circle. I was kind of proud of how my pizza looked.
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Next was the Butternut Agnolotti Ravioli. Chef Salvatore once again took us through the steps, starting with how to make fresh pasta. He showed us how to press the pasta into the mold and then he mixed the filling. He effortlessly put the dish together, pressed down, and somehow perfectly formed ravioli appeared. This one was a lot harder for me. We already had strips of pasta at our stations, but putting it all together was more confusing than Salvatore made it look! One of the sous-chefs came over and helped me out. I ended up with ravioli that mostly looked decent, although I did overstuff one of them. It was still fun to try something that I had never done before.
We then moved to a different part of the kitchen and met Chef Marshall. He is the Executive Pastry Chef of the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream. He taught us how to make the Limoncello Tart, which is Palo’s signature dessert. He started with how to make the crust, although the crusts for our finished tarts had already been cooked. He then took us through the stages of making the filling. It was then our turn. There was dough at each station, so we rolled it out and placed it in the tin. Again there was plenty of help around if we needed it. (Rolling out the dough took me back to my childhood for a bit to when my mom would bake pies.) After we had the dough in the tin, we switched over to the crusts that had already been baked. We whisked together the ingredients, then poured the mixture into the shells. Chef Marshall told me that mine looked “very good”. That was high praise from a man who obviously loves what he does.
After the class was finished, we went into the back room of Palo for our meal. The food we were served was identical to the food that we had just made, but they did not serve our actual creations for health reasons. Dinner also included two wine pairings, one with the meal and another for dessert. One of the members of our group said that the dessert wine was the best wine that she had ever had. We learned about the wines from our sommelier, and we were told stories about the names of the dishes by our head server. It was a nice, relaxing meal.
I’m vegetarian, but I still had more than enough to eat. The only thing that wasn’t vegetarian on our menu was the appetizer, so I was served a different version. One of the members of our party can’t have dairy, so they made some substitutions for him. Don’t let an allergy or special diet stop you from trying this, because it is adaptable.
The experience included a Palo name tag for each of us, a clean Palo chef’s jacket, apron, and hat, framed pictures with Mickey and Chef Salvatore, recipe cards with what we had made, a keepsake menu, and a Palo bag. As I said, I had been a bit skeptical about taking a cooking class, but now I’m glad that I did, although Chef Salvatore is in no danger of losing his job to me.
Palo Be Our Chef is currently held only on the Disney Fantasy. You’ll need to wear closed toe shoes that are slip resistant, and pants, slacks, or jeans that are in good condition and don’t have holes. If you have long hair like I do, you’ll need to pull it back. Palo Be Our Chef is open to only eight people per session. We had nine, and it was tight. It is only for those 18 and older. It costs $279 per person. Spots are hard to come by because it’s an extremely limited event, and it is initially offered to Concierge guests. If you can grab a spot, do it. You’ll have a great time, and you just might learn something.