How Disney’s Chefs Created the Out-of-This-World Menus for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
The food and beverage offerings at the long-anticipated Disney World and Disneyland attraction will be just as colorful and geeky as you'd hope.
When Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disneyland on May 31 and at Walt Disney World on August 29, the food and beverages at the immersive attraction will be unlike anything else in the Disney universe.
“I don’t think any of us have done anything like this in our career,” says culinary director for concept development Brian Piasecki, who’s worked for Disney since 1991 and has been a chef for 24 years. “This one really takes it all to another level.”
Brian Koziol, Disney’s front-of-the-house concept development director for food and beverage, remembers a brainstorming session in July 2015 when the culinary team thought about all the Stars Wars planets and imagined what it would be like to eat and drink on each one. The goal at that time, says Koziol (who first worked for Disney as a guest-services manager in 1994), didn’t involve figuring out how to execute these ideas. It was simply about putting together a list of things that might be worth attempting. It was about urging the team to “keep it as blue sky and creative as we can.” It was about pushing the limits of their imaginations.
After years of R&D, it’s almost time for Disney to unveil the otherworldly menus at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. So we spoke to Piasecki, Koziol, and mixologist/beverage sales and standards manager Janice Kleyla (who got her start at Disney through its college program in 2008) about what they’re most excited to serve.
“I think our guests have been waiting for this for 40 years, so we have very high expectations for ourselves to make sure we set the bar high,” Kleyla says.
Smoked Kaadu Ribs
“The positive aspect of developing the food from Galaxy’s Edge is no one really knows what it is,” Piasecki says. “So we kind of have free rein to quote-unquote have fun with it and do something different. One of the guiding principles was trying to take something that was very familiar that our guests would understand but make it look or taste a little bit different.”
The kaadu ribs, available at the Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo restaurant, aren’t actually from amphibious two-legged creatures that are native to the planet Naboo. These are smoked pork ribs, but they’ve been cut horizontally before being cut vertically.
“It’s a quarter-rack of ribs, but it’s a shape and size that you’ve never really seen before,” Piasecki says. “So it helps us tell a story: ‘This is that animal it came from.’ It really does that little mind trick.”
The ribs, which are topped with barbecue sauce, are a little sweet and a little spicy. They come with slaw and a cornbread muffin that’s got streaks of blue because there are chunks of blueberries inside. The cornbread also has a hit of heat from cayenne pepper.
Felucian Garden Spread
This dish features plant-based “kefta meatballs” alongside herb hummus, tomato-cucumber relish, and pita bread.
“The inspiration for this one was a completely green planet that really yields itself to a plant-based or vegetarian type of diet,” Piasecki says. “We used the Impossible product to create a meatball that tastes like meat, but it’s completely vegan.”
Another spin is the green hummus with chimichurri.
“Everything on the entire plate is plant-based to help tell that story about what planet it was inspired by,” says Piasecki, who adds that the rising popularity of plant-based eating “really challenges us to continue to evolve our menus.”
The Blue Bantha and other drinks
Another thing that’s changed since this crew started working at Disney is the growth of social media. It’s important for the food at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to be Instagram-friendly. Koziol gives credit to his beverage and pastry departments for creating “some of the great photographic products we have.”
Disney has developed blue and green plant-based milks that will be available in frozen form at a kiosk. Plus, Kleyla’s using blue milk for a mocktail at Oga’s Cantina. Oga’s Cantina also serves booze, but, as Koziol says, it’s important “to bring beverages to life for guests of all ages.”
A bantha, Kleyla reminds us, “is a large hairy creature, a mammal with spiraling horns that are really spiky.” This inspired the Blue Bantha drink, which is blue milk with berry and melon flavors. Atop the mocktail is a sugar cookie with “specialty crispies” and a fondant horn. It’s a riff on milk and cookies that Kleyla thinks will appeal to a wide demographic.
“Not all our guests want to enjoy alcohol, especially if they’re visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at 10 o’clock in the morning,” she says. “It was great to create non-alcoholic drinks that have complex flavors and are really bold and colorful.”
For those who do want booze, there are drinks like the blue-greenish Dagobah Slug Slinger, which has tequila, citrus juices, herbs, and bitters.
“We wanted to make something herbal,” Koziol says. “If you think of Dagobah, it’s a lush planet. It’s a planet that has a lot of wetlands and is kind of murky.”
Originally, the thought was that gin would be great for a herbal cocktail, but it turns out that tequila worked better.
Another thing Koziol and the team have been thinking about is weaving in molecular mixology and molecular gastronomy without creating a full-on modernist experience. They’ve been playing around with foams and buzz buttons to create different textures and sensations. They want Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to be about spectacle
“One of our guiding principles is bringing people a little bit of fire, smoke, and ice,” Koziol says. “I call it the trilogy. We’ll have a coffee drink in the morning that we can ignite. It creates a nice little caramelized marmalade that we layer in with some 151 rum. The drink is called the Spiran Caf. Caf is the Star Wars term for coffee.”
Dry ice will be used for cocktails including the Bespin Fizz.
“It looks like Bespin, the cloud city,” Koziol says. “It has this nice swirling shimmer.”
For the Carbon Freeze mocktail, dry ice will be used to create the “fun, cool effect of carbonite.”
The overall experience
“No formal dining,” Piasecki says. “The setting for this planet Batuu is very, very informal.”
Docking Bay 7 will be a quick-service restaurant that also includes photogenic desserts like a raspberry cream puff with passion-fruit mousse and a chocolate cake with white-chocolate mousse and coffee custard.
The food venues at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be “very market-inspired,” adds Piasecki, who will have turkey jerky and the Ronto Wrap with sausage and roasted pork at Ronto Roasters in the Black Spire Outpost market. The market will also offer spicy and sweet popcorn at Kat Saka’s Kettle.