Chef TJ - 2006 MouseMail Image

Indonesia Native and Disney Cast Member Tjetjep Sudiswa (aka Chef TJ) has been a chef at the Walt Disney World Resort for about 14 years.  Many of those years were spent at the Animal Kingdom Lodge working in Boma – Flavors of Africa.  In 2008, Chef TJ moved locations and has been spreading his culinary pixie dust at Disney’s Polynesian Resort working at both  ‘Ohana & Captain Cook’s.  He is the perfect Disney Cast Member, making dreams come true every day and doing it with a contagious smile.

Chef TJ is known around the gluten & allergy free community as the “go-to” chef at Walt Disney World.  One encounter with him, and you will know why.  Whatever you dietary needs (vegan, raw vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, diary free, egg free, etc), Chef TJ will delight and surprise you. Most special dietary requests need 24 hours – 72 hrs notice, but for more unique requests, such as raw vegan meals, about 3 weeks notice is needed.

Chef TJ - 2006 MouseMail Image

My vegan family of four had the pleasure of meeting Chef TJ  in January 2009.  We met when I was in Captain Cook’s Snack Company for a counter service meal.  I asked for a couple items on the menu to be made vegan, and they told me I needed to speak with the chef.  Chef TJ walked me around Captain Cook’s and showed me what was available on the menu and to just “grab and go”.  There were many “grab and go” options including Divvies Chocolate Chip Cookies, Lay’s Potato Chips, Silk Soy Milk (Chocolate and Plain), as well as individual frozen desserts.  He also informed me that the Poly Chips were not vegan because they did not have their own dedicated fryer and that Dole Whip is not vegan.

Chef TJ recommended I make a reservation for ‘Ohana so he could make a vegan feast for my family.  We did just that, and had the meal of a lifetime.  I have never had anyone cater to my dietary needs in this manner.  There were at least 7 courses that I remember:  salad, a trio of hummus, bread & dip for the kids, sweet noodle dish for the kids, sushi-type rolls/wraps with dipping sauce, truffle potato puffs, papaya soup,  a trio of stir fry with tofu, and dessert made of cake, ice cream & chocolate sauce topped with cherries.  It was fantastic!

HOW TO GET YOUR VEGAN FEAST  BY CHEF TJ AT ‘OHANA

  1. Call  (407) WDW-DINE to make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR’s) up to 90 days prior to your visit.
  2. Inform the  Cast Member (CM) of your “dairy, egg & shellfish allergies”.  As of Fall 2008, The CM’s were not able to note that you are vegan, only which foods you “have an allergy” to.  *** UPDATED***  as of May 2009, this seems to have changed.  Now it is possible to get both “vegan” and “vegetarian” on your ADR.  You can still add the allergy info is you want to be extra safe, but recent reports are now saying that you can request “vegan” to your ADR.
  3. Request the ‘Ohana Food & Beverage phone number.  You need to request this number before the CM is done with the reservation, because after it is complete, they cannot access it in their system.
  4. Call the Food & Beverage representative (usually the chef) to discuss your vegan dining options at least 24 – 72 hours prior to your ADR.  For more unique requests, such as raw vegan meals, call at least 3 weeks prior to your ADR.

Check out: Chef TJ’s Profile from the bookVegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando: The Essential Guide for the Health-Conscious Traveler By Susan Shumaker, Than Saffel (2003)

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