Dining at Walt Disney World: Making Walt’s Chili

Editor’s note: As we head into the cool fall weather, I started thinking about making chili…and thought it would be the perfect time to re-run a favorite post from the past,  the recipe for Walt’s Own Chili. :) Complete with recipe and photos….and ready for you to prepare. Enjoy! :)

I was cooking at work one day and I thought to myself, “What would Walt want for lunch”? So I started doing some research and found, like his personality, Walt had very humble tastes. Walt’s daughter Diane once wrote, “before he married mother, father had eaten in hash houses and lunch wagons for so many years in order to save money that he’d developed a hash house-lunch wagon appetite”. One of his favorite things to eat was chili with beans. So much he would often mix two kinds of canned chili to make the perfect blend.

On display at the Walt Disney family Museum in San Francisco is a rare glimpse into Walt’s food preferences. They have a hand-written note that was taped to the refrigerator by live-in cook Thelma Howard. It was entitled “Walt Disney’s Favorites” written by Walt himself. The list included: Chicken Fry Cubed Steak, Roast Lamb with Potatoes and Gravy,Pan Fried Chicken with Potatoes and Gravy, Roast Chicken with Dressing and Gravy, Spam and Eggs with Biscuits and Honey, Oyster Stew with Crackers and Cheese, breaded Veal Cutlets, and Chili with beans.

As many of my friends and family know I am pretty much a chili head. I have gone to great lengths to make the “perfect” pot of chili. So I was very intrigued to see what Walt thought was his perfect pot. I found out that in 1961 Gertrude Booth was compiling recipes for her book “Kings in the Kitchen”. The book focused on the food preferences of famous men. Walt shared with her his secret chili recipe and it was unveiled to the public for the first time. Here it is:

  • 2 Pounds ground beef (coarse)
  • 2 Whole onions (sliced)
  • 2 Whole cloves of garlic (Minced)
  • 2 Pounds of dry pink- or pinto- beans
  • 1/2 Cup chopped celery
  • 1t Paprika
  • 1t Chili powder
  • 1t Dry mustard
  • 1 can of solid pack tomatoes
  • Salt to taste

When I first saw this I was a little skeptical,because I have about a list of 20 ingredients to make my chili. Also as chefs we don’t usually like to stick with recipes. However for the interest of science I did just for you guys! I only did a half recipe because it serves 6-8 and it’s just Minnie and I.

I soaked the beans in cold water overnight and gathered the rest of the ingredients

*Chef’s note- I forgot to put the celery in the picture so use a little Disney magic Thanks!

The next step is to drain the beans and put them in a pot. Cover with water 2 inches above the beans. then add sliced onions and simmer until tender usually 3-4 hours stirring occasionally. Check water level too add if needed.

When the beans have about an hour left you can begin browning the beef in a little oil and adding the minced garlic

When the meat is brown chop the garlic and gather the other spices.Add all remaining ingredients into the beef mixture

Mix ingredients and bring to a simmer. I covered mine to keep the moisture in. Stir occasionally for an hour to let the celery soften and flavors marry.

When the beans are tender drain them and add to the sauce.

Stir the beans in and bring back to simmer. Cover the pot and let the chili simmer for another half an hour. Taste and add salt if desired.

I cannot stress enough how difficult it was not to taste, re-season, taste, re-season,etc lol.

And here it is Walt Disney’s personal Chili

Walt always liked to eat soda crackers with his chili. Upon tasting, it really gives you a glimpse into who Walt was as a person. Simple, humble, and straight forward. The taste is good overall, but it doesn’t have a real depth of flavor. This is perfect however for a chilly winter’s night. They always say you can tell a lot about a person from the food they eat. Even though Walt had everything his feet always remained planted firmly on Main Street.

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Keith was born and raised in Northeast Ohio.He now lives with his wife a few miles from his childhood home. His first trip to the Magic Kingdom was at the age of two and while the only memories are in pictures, the magic laid dormant within him. Until he saw the animated movie Robin Hood, and his love began to grow. He has always had an interest in food and the togetherness it brings. He became a classically trained chef and all around foodie. His last trip to Disney World was in 2011 and he has been learning, researching, and keeping up on all things Disney since. He hopes to bring you all of the food news from the parks, tips on how to save money on food, and all the tastes and smells from the House of Mouse (especially when smell o vision is invented). You can follow Keith on Twitter @DarthChef79.

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3 Responses to Dining at Walt Disney World: Making Walt’s Chili

  1. Pingback: Dining at Walt Disney World: Make & Review Walt’s Chili | DisneyDigest

  2. EveryDayGirl says:

    I made the Rustic Bruchetta from Wine Country Trattoria in California Adventure’s once. (Got the recipe from the Disney Parks Blog). At Wine Country Trattoria, this bruchetta was AMAZING!! So good that I was left craving it for months afterwards. Somehow I stumbled across the recipe and tried it at home…totally disappointed! I don’t have what it takes to recreate that recipe. :(

  3. Alan says:

    Nicely done. I enjoyed the history lesson that you provided in addition to the recipe and final product. It definitely seems that Walt was a man of simple tastes which is okay. I wish you had made a bowl for me!

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