Jul 1, 2011 12:00 PM, By Susan Cuadrado, www.specialevents.com
THE GULF COAST
COOL AND CASUAL
Robert J. Ciborowski, executive chef at Walt Disney World's Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla., keeps two rules in mind for the best summer stations: “Provide maximum flavor, without serving an overwhelming quantity.”
Ciborowski and his team have developed some very innovative ways to put the chill factor into their summer buffet fare. “Some of our more unique cold items include our ‘nitro’ kettle corn, where we use liquid nitrogen to super-chill popcorn and honey-roasted peanuts with caramel foam, as well as our frozen-to-order mini ‘lollipops,’ which we make on our anti-griddles.” (An anti-griddle is a traditional cooktop with a twist: It quickly freezes sauces and purees instead of heating them.) Savory frozen gazpacho lollipops made with heirloom tomatoes are on this summer's menu, as are bite-sized “salads” of chilled compressed melon and lump crab with an ice-wine vinaigrette.
Because some dishes are better served hot, even in warmer months, Ciborowski and his team rely on another cooking device — the Gastrovac — to give foods big flavor with less cooking time. “Think of the Gastrovac as a crock pot, vacuum pump and heating plate all in one,” Ciborowski says. “The low-pressure environment pulls all the air out of the food, such as a piece of fish, compressing it like a squished sponge. Near the end of the cooking process, the food item is dropped into a savory broth and pressure is restored. The liquid rushes into the cells, infusing them with flavor.” Ciborowski prepares a dish of halibut, heirloom tomatoes and olives using this method, which, like the anti-griddle, can be used at an action station. “Our guests find them both to be quite interesting and conversational,” he says.
And since summer wouldn't be summer without barbecue, the resort's signature “Cib's Smoke Shop” remains a seasonal mainstay — and perhaps the most in-demand of all its summer buffet options. “The barbecue concept is approachable, understandable and packed with a variety of flavors and selections,” Ciborowski says. To insure quality, all meats are smoked, rubbed and marinated in-house.