When most adults think of Disney World, they equate it with screaming children, long lines, and sugary junk foods. And while all those things may be true for the most magical place on Earth, there's also a side of the park that true foodies and beverage connoisseurs can appreciate—the food and beverage programs within the restaurants and resorts.

Yes, Disney World is home to several award-winning restaurants and even Michelin-starred chefs. From authentic flavors from South Africa and Kenya to global craft cocktails and beers within EPCOT, foodies will feel as though they've walked into heaven. Over the last year, Disney World and Disneyland have worked to also bring a more diverse perspective to its culinary programs through the Celebrate Soulfully and Cooking with Soul rollout. This special campaign celebrates the beauty of Black culture with music, new shows, as well as specially curated menus.

We had the chance to chat with one of the Disney World chefs, Michael Savage, helping to push the program further. He also shared with us the iconic baked macaroni and cheese recipe found at Chef Mickey's at The Contemporary Resort.

Heavily influenced by his family, the chef describes his cooking style as “good food, done well,” says Savage. "I started with the company in 2007, and I worked my way up."

"My mom and aunties are great home cooks and my uncles were professional chefs," he continues. "I take everything that they taught me plus what I learned in school and apply it to my dishes. What you get is not just tasty, it is done well."

Below, Chef Michael Savage walks us through his restaurant's baked macaroni and cheese dish.

Disney's Southern Baked Mac & Cheese

WDW_Contemporary_ContempoCafe_ChefSavagesBakedMac&Cheese2_FULL_DH[34] (2)
Image: Courtesy of Walt Disney World.

Disney's Southern Baked Mac & Cheese

  • 1 pound dry elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Gouda cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup shredded yellow cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese

1. Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with butter. Set aside.
3. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour and stir constantly until smooth roux forms. Slowly add heavy cream and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, until cream begins to thicken.
4. Add half-and-half and whisk constantly until the sauce begins to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in salt, white pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Add cream cheese and 1 cup of the Gouda.
Stir constantly until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Add additional salt, if needed. Stir reserved macaroni into sauce.
5. Combine yellow and white cheddar, Monterey jack, and remaining cup of Gouda in a medium bowl.
6. Spread half of the macaroni in prepared 9×13 pan. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on top. Repeat with remaining macaroni and shredded cheese.
7. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and increase oven temperature to 400 °F. Bake additional 10–15 minutes, until top is golden brown.

Ronzoni elbow macaroni

Price: $2

Morton coarse kosher salt

Price: $3

Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour

Price: $4