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Paradise Gardens puts European-inspired cuisine on Disney California Adventure's menu

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Paradise Gardens puts European-inspired cuisine on Disney California Adventure's menu

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A portobello mushroom and spinach flatbread pizza garnished with pesto & artichokes? A Mediterranean-themed skewer piled high with tofu & vegetables? An expresso brownie?

This is theme park food?

It is according to Karlos Siqueiros, the manager of concept development for Food Operations at the Disneyland Resort. In much the same way that the Imagineers used The Walt Disney Company's $1.1 billion reinvestment in Disney California Adventure as an excuse to reinvent that theme park, Siqueiros saw the DCA redo as an opportunity to bump out the borders a bit. At least when it came to the style & variety of foods which could be served at that Disney theme park.

So when WDI proposed taking out the Maliboomer & the S.S. Rustworthy and then turning this formerly noisy corner of California Adventure into Paradise Gardens, a green shady space where theme park visitors could now kick back & relax, Karlos then became determined to put together a menu for this part of the Park that would genuinely encourage that sort of behavior. Offer up a selection of foods that would so perfectly match this now-bucolic setting that the Guests would deliberately dawdle over their dinners.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So Siqueiros - putting his head together with Jay Garcia, the chef de cuisine for the Paradise Garden Grill & Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta - cooked up a story-driven menu change for this portion of Paradise Pier.

"We decided to use our two new restaurants here tell an immigration story. Talk about this Italian family who had made the perilous journey to the United States and arrived here at Paradise Pier. And they were so taken with the Boardwalk lifestyle that this Italian family decided to make their home here. More importantly, set up shop here," Karlos explained. "So they first opened this stand that served Mediterranean-style skewers. And that proved to be so popular that - right next door - the family built an Italian restaurant with an elaborate outdoor dining area."

Mind you, it took a while for Siquerios & Garcia to get Disney Parks & Resorts executives to sign off on this particular restaurant concept for DCA. Which - with its European-inspired menu (not to mention those musical groups which will be performing twice-daily on Paradise Gardens' outdoor bandstand) - bring an Epcot-like feel to this corner of the theme park.

"We did a number of presentations where we'd first decorate our test kitchen space with props & posters which would then simulate the look & feel of what we wanted to do with Paradise Gardens," Karlos continued. "Then we'd invite the executives in so that they could watch our Chefs work, smell the food as it was being cooked, sample some of our offerings, get a real sense of the sort of dining experience what we were eventually hoping to offer our Guests."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Luckily those Disney execs did come around. They eventually saw the value in adding this type of food - more importantly, this sort of dining experience - to the Disneyland Resort's already strong roster of restaurants.

And as pretty as Paradise Gardens is during the day, this deceptively roomy section of DCA (There's seating for 800 Guests scattered among all of those shade trees and pergolas) is downright beautiful at night.

"I had this one woman give us the greatest compliment the other day. She said that she found the whole Paradise Gardens setting to be so romantic that this was where she was going to have her boyfriend propose to her here," Siquerios laughed. "So I said 'You've got the whole thing planned out already, eh?' "

It would be nice if Karlos could hear more of the public's overwhelmingly positive response to  Paradise Garden Grill & Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta. But as the manager of concept development for Food Operations at the Disneyland Resort, Siquerios really doesn't have the time right now.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"Around here, by the time we've finished one project, you're already knee-deep in the next. We're just now putting the finishing touches on all of that great Route 66-inspired comfort foods we'll be offering next summer in Cars Land. And just yesterday, I was in a meeting where we were talking about the novelty items that we'll make available in the Parks for the 2012 holiday season," Karlos concluded.

And speaking of those food-based novelty items (EX: That Mickey-as-a-Ghost collectible popcorn bucket that's offered at the Disneyland Resort's theme parks during HalloweenTime) ... On Thursday, July 14th, Karlos Siquerios will be speaking at the Anaheim Crowne Plaza Resort in Garden Grove, CA. Where Karlos' talk - " Tasty Crunchies and Munchies and Novelties" - will be just one of the many entertaining talks & panels that the Disneyana Fan Club will be presenting at its annual convention.

For further information on this five-day-long event, please click on this link.

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  • European, wth?! I´m from Europe but there is no such thing as "European food". It always tasts very American to me, sweet, greasy and no tast of vegatables what so ever.

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