Photo Credit: Patina Restaurant Group
From The Bahamas To One Of The Few Black Women Running A Disney World Restaurant
Bahamas-native Deaundra Rolle said she never thought her schooling and experience would meet the moment where she would be running the show at one of Walt Disney World’s finest restaurants. She’s known to everyone around her as “Chef Dee” and is the executive chef at The Edison.
“I’m grateful to be here, that’s for sure, but I never thought I would be here […] not in a million years,” she told Travel Noire during an interview.
But when you ask those who know her and her work-ethic, they’re not surprised.
“We’re really lucky to have her,” said The Edison’s General Manager.
Chef Rolle is from The Bahamas and has garnered a reputation of masterfully adding her Caribbean Black Girl Magic to the cuisine in the most magical place in the world. Her take on the dry rub ribs with her iconic barbecue sauce, fried salmon cakes during her fish specials, and the blackened Mahi is why she was called upon to hold a special dining event in February called “Chef Dee Presents A Taste of The Bahamas” during Black History Month of 2021.
When you ask Chef Dee what she attribute her success to, she will tell you her upbringing in The Bahamas.
“As a child, I realize you never actually understand why you’re doing things until you see the finished product. Growing up, my grandma had us picking peas, and it was to make pea soup,” said Rolle. “The same was for Benny Cakes. At home, we call them Benny seeds but here in the states, they’re called sesame seeds. Growing up, we would get them with the shells, and you learn to deconstruct them and then turn them into street candy known as Benny Cakes. We always learned the value of having to break something down and then building it back up again.”
Those lessons growing up is what drives Chef Rolle in the kitchen because she breaks down Bahamian food to what would be pleasing to the tourists’ eyes and taste palette.
“We typically marinate our fish in citrus and hot peppers. So, to make it more friendly, I’ll add blackened seasoning and then turn the citrus into sauce, so people can still experience the flavor profile in the Bahamas.”
And to make sure her “remixing“ of Bahamian food is correct, Chef Rolle says she lets her biggest critic, her mom who she calls “ma,” be the judge.
“When my ma came to visit, she told me, ‘yes, this is it!’” Chef Rolle said as her face lights up when talking about her family. “She always reminds me to stick to what I know.”
Staying true to herself is why Chef Dee says she’s one of few Black women with such an honor at Walt Disney World.
“It’s mind-blowing. I take pride in that because there are challenges with being Black and a woman in the restaurant industry. This position here is something I definitely hold dear to my heart. My advice to people is don’t give up. There will be a lot of no’s but don’t let that stop you from doing what you know you’re able to do.”