The magic recipes: Interview with Jean-Marie Clément, Food Product and Purchasing Service Director [PART 2/2]

At Marvel Avengers Campus, inspiring new recruits also involves food. And it was Jean-Marie and his teams who were given the task of coming up with the super menus concocted on the site. This was an opportunity to reconsider the entire MARVEL universe food & beverage offering at Disneyland Paris.

IN THE SUPER HEROES KITCHEN

The opening of Avengers Campus last July was not just a heroic event, it was also a culinary event. 

It’s another great theme. To come up with the different experiences for this zone, we had the pleasure of working closely with Walt Disney Imagineering as they design the restaurants and write the stories, while our role is to convey their work through the food & beverage offering by using it as inspiration. Take Pym Kitchen for example. It’s a lab that has been transformed into a restaurant. So we asked ourselves lots of questions and to find the answers, we entered the world of Ant-Man, where things grow and shrink thanks to these blue and red particles. Sometimes our conversations were completely surreal, but that enabled us to come up with this great concept with waiters dressed as researchers, test tubes for vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, giant pretzels on every table, and drinks served in particle tubes, beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks. My teams said to me: “Jean-Marie, this is France, we can’t serve wine in test tubes! You need a wine glass.” But I told them that here, it doesn’t matter; we’re in a lab, and in a laboratory you use what you have. Ultimately, it has become a key part of the experience. It’s such a change from everyday life and everyone loves it! 

Before opening Pym Kitchen at Disneyland Paris, there was Pym Test Kitchen in California. How did you find a way of your own?

Even though the theme is similar, the concept is different in that ours is a buffet restaurant, whereas the one in California is counter service. It’s an offering that is well-suited to Disneyland Resort guests, because it means they can interact. Their teams were impressed by what we offer here and came recently to check it out. We have learnt a lot from each other. Social media also helps us a lot to identify interesting products. For example, if something works at Walt Disney World, I ask myself if it would work here too. 

What about Stark Factory?It’s a sort of Super Heroes’ canteen. When you work on a concept like that, you also think about its place in relation to the overall offering on and outside the Campus. We realised that there wasn’t really a place to eat pasta or pizza in Walt Disney Studios Park. At Stark Factory, the pizza dough is made every morning in the kitchens on the right; it’s baked and cut in front of you; and the pasta is made in front of you too. When considering the diversity of the offering, you also consider the vegan offering, and of the three pastas we offer, one is vegan, and one of the pizzas is vegetarian.

It’s a change in the offering that we have also seen in Disneyland Park.

Exactly. We offer a veggie hot dog at Casey’s Corner and a veggie burger in the majority of our counter service restaurants. This is a major change in our offering. 

Still on the subject of diversity, we wanted an Asian offering for the Worldwide Eating Brigade with a noodle broth, with either chicken, shrimp or smoked tofu, and believe me, in this weather, a good soup really hits the spot! And in our Super Diner, I wanted a Reuben sandwich to be on the menu, because it is a typically New York product! 

So the Avengers Campus offering is, in this respect, symbolic of the change in the food & beverage offering at Disneyland Paris in general. 

Absolutely. The criteria we had in mind were, first and foremost, the quality, followed by the diversity of the offering and whether it suits all palates. We have a very diverse clientèle. So we have to try to please everyone. You have to keep up with the latest trends. People want to eat healthier; they want to know where the product comes from. It has to be healthy and look good. Every time we develop a product, we think about the quality, appeal and taste. As for diversity, this is dealt with across the entire resort. Guests want more products that will allow them to continue their adventure at Disneyland Paris while eating. That wasn’t the case 30 years ago. You didn’t see guests walking around while eating. It is always important to understand guests and trends, and follow them. Or more importantly, to be the trend. 

Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel is a must for cocktails, with each one more amazing than the other. 

At Disneyland Paris, we have a great team of bar staff, particularly at Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel. Not only are they highly skilled and have won national competitions, but they also love the Marvel theme. The creative teams work directly with the bar teams, as they are the ones who are there to deliver the product. What comes to mind in particular is this magnificent cocktail served in a Martini glass with this bubble on top, created for the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. I was at Skyline Bar the other day and what I noticed is that customers leave the bubble and wait for it to disappear so they can smell the cocktail. Because the smell is also important. Our cocktails are really amazing, in the true sense of the word! You can imagine how difficult it is for me when I have to try all the cocktails to approve them (laughs). 

Skyline Bar

It’s not easy to convey a theme like Marvel through a cocktail. Our creators have this ability of being able to form part of an incredible story by creating an extraordinary drink that continues this story. At the same time, they are constantly looking for new technologies, for example, one that would allow them to print a logo on cocktails. In fact, we have a few surprises in store for you next year at Bleecker Street Lounge. And that’s all I’m telling you for now!

A KITCHEN FOR THE FUTURE

Since returning to Disneyland Paris, which project are you most proud of?

Developing the menu at Walt’s – An American Restaurant. It’s a pretty unique place because it tells the story of our founder, Walt Disney, and represents the Park’s various Lands. I always remember this book, Eat Like Walt, which reveals something of his taste in food. He wasn’t a great food lover, but he did have some things he liked. He didn’t really take time to eat, except when he was with his family. I was lucky enough to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco where this topic is also covered. He used to love opening canned chilli con carne, which he would eat straight from the tin with a spoon because he didn’t have time for lunch. So, as a result, by deconstructing it, we were able to came up with a unique chilli con carne. To do this, we had a porcelain can custom-made and we use Isigny cream, a call-out to the town where his family came from. It’s not your traditional chilli con carne at all, but a demonstration of what our chefs can do to tell a story in a very contemporary way, with a totally immersive feel. We also offer a potato-based dish called “Thelma” in honour of the lady who was not only Walt’s cook, but who also took care of everything in his house. If you haven’t had the chance to eat at Walt’s yet, do. Try it!

You are always switching between tradition and innovation.

Yes, next year our company will celebrate its 100th Anniversary. So we have a very rich and important history. And at the same time, we are always looking to the future, particularly in terms of new technologies. Our teams travel a lot to trade fairs; we talk a lot with our suppliers. This enables us to come up with new ideas, new products, new processes and to upgrade our equipment to perform better and, at the same time, to make life easier for our Cast Members. 

How do you see your future at Disneyland Paris?

It’s a real challenge. We’ve made a lot of progress in terms of offerings, but it never stops. We always try to achieve perfection and there is real competition between Disney Parks to constantly find new ideas. 

Since the reopening, we have made a lot of progress and that will continue. We never get bored and that’s what makes it great to be here at Disneyland Paris!

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