Daniel “Duke” Brown spent years working in the culinary arts, but dreamed of returning to school and advancing his career. Today, thanks to the Disney Aspire program and Daniel’s hard work, this dream is coming true.
Daniel had previously worked in luxury restaurant kitchens when he was hired at Disneyland Resort as a custom cook at Storytellers Café in 2016. He worked in various departments at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa before joining the Napa Rose Culinary Team After briefly leaving the company to help a friend open a restaurant, in 2018 he learned about the launch of Disney Aspire, which pays full tuition in advance and reimburses fees for the hourly choice.
“When I heard about the show, I quickly went back to Disney,” he shared. “I attended one of the job fairs, came back and went straight back to Napa Rose, starting the Aspire program three months later. I had always wanted to go back to college.”
Daniel’s current pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in human resource management from the University of Wilmington, one of more than 10 schools in the network, is already helping him in his career. Shortly after returning to the resort, he moved to Carthay Circle Restaurant, where he worked until the pandemic closed the parks. When he returned to the resort last May, Daniel was even more focused on finding a leadership position.
“I contacted Golden Vine Winery, who was looking for clues, and talked to the chefs. I let them know my aspirations as a park chef and they let me know the next ideal steps I need to take,” Daniel said. During his first month there as chief cook, he opened a job as a chef and was on his way. He recently served as a chef at Pixar Pier, serving in various locations, including Paradise Garden Grill, Bayside Brews and more. Accredit the knowledge you have acquired at work and in your classes with the advancement of your career.
“One HR class I did had a lot to do with interviews and resumes, and that helped me a lot during the interview process,” he said. “One of the chefs came to me and told me that my ideas and answers made him rethink his position, how people do things in relation to the Five Keys and how they can put them better in their roles.”
Along with his culinary management dreams, Daniel hopes to use his title to connect with the resort’s human resource leaders and at the same time defend the food and beverage department. In fact, he recently joined Thrive, a new tutoring program for members of our Enterprise Employee Resource Groups (BERG), which is teamed up with a Human Resources mentor at the complex.
Daniel hopes that the work he has done to earn the title and advance in his career will inspire his three children and his co-stars. “The only thing I can say to everyone is talk to the people behind it [Aspire] schedule and ask them about the possibilities they have; the options are almost limitless. “