They say a watched pot never boils, but try telling that to Robert Ciborowski, top chef at Orlando’s Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel, who by once waiting patiently forged a successful career in the field.
A graduate of San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy, Ciborowski got the rare opportunity early in his career to work as a prep chef at the famed French Laundry, located about two hours north of San Francisco.
“The chef de cuisine said, ‘Be here tomorrow at 5 a.m.,’” Ciborowski remembers. “I got there and the kitchen was shut, as it opened at 5:30. They wanted to see if I would wait. I worked the whole day and then was made to stand in the alcove from 5:30 to midnight. At the end of it he said, ‘What do you think?’ I said that I wanted to learn. He said, ‘Be back at 6:30 tomorrow.’ I asked if I was going to get paid, and he said ‘We’ll talk about it.’ The rest is history.”
Since then, the chef has worked AAA Four Diamond and Mobil Four Star restaurants for Ritz-Carlton, as well as for The Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas and various traditional fine-dining restaurants.
Ciborowski’s efforts at the Swan and Dolphin, which offers 17 restaurants and lounges and boasts a banquet operation that serves more than 1 million guests annually, have reaped numerous awards.
Overseeing nearly 200 team members, “Chef Cib’s” culinary style is informed by his Italian upbringing, classical French training and a respect for presentation he learned while working in Southeast Asia and Japan.
Ciborowski and his crew pride themselves on providing a dining experience that blows away the expectations of participants, such as innovative back-of-house progressive dinners and other jaw-dropping feats of cuisine.
Taking dining programs into the kitchen—the “heart of the house,” as Ciborowski describes it—brings a level of emotion to guests in that it reminds them of their own homes. It’s that emotive aspect of the cuisine experience that really hits home.
“What we do really well,” he says, “is deliver something beyond a group’s expectations, such as doing stations and pop-up restaurants—to execute the way it should be executed, not just cook it. What distinguishes us is the ability to do it the right way. You need to put up a foundation before you build a house.”