SJO has learned that when Flying Fish Cafe reopens after its months-long renovation at Disney’s BoardWalk, its executive chef will not be there. Timothy Keating will be leaving Disney to pursue other interests, sources said.
Keating is considered one of the top chefs at Walt Disney World Resorts and Flying Fish Cafe one of a triumvirate of restaurants considered to be in the top tier (Victoria & Albert's is in its own class). The other two restaurants, Citricos at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and California Grill at the Contemporary Resort, have also seen personnel changes recently. Phillip Ponticelli left Citricos for Golden Oak in November and, as reported earlier today, Brian Piasecki will leave California Grill for a newly created position within the company.
No replacements have been announced for either California Grill or Flying Fish Cafe, though it bears noting that the Citricos position was filled with a chef from outside the company. In years past, the openings at the top tier restaurants were traditionally filled from within the company.
Keating, who did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday, is a four-time nominee for a James Beard Award from his pre-Disney days. He had indicated that he would be staying on during the renovations, which started at the first of February, and working on a new menu. Some who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that he reconsidered and decided this was a time to break out and start anew.