Phillip Ponticelli, who has been the chef at Citricos in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa since 2006, is leaving that popular restaurant to take over the kitchen at Golden Oak, Disney’s ultra upscale home development. The gated community’s club house has a private dining room for residents and their guests, and the Golden Oak website lists in-home dinners and parties as one of the resident services.
In an unusual move, Ponticelli will be replaced by a chef hired from outside instead of by a culinary cast member. The chef’s name has not been released yet, but I’ve learned that it is someone from Miami.
Citricos is considered to be on the same dining level as California Grill and Flying Fish Cafe. The restaurant was originally called Flagler’s and had an Italian menu. It was rebranded as Citricos in 1997 and underwent a full redesign by Martin Dorf of New York (who also did the original designs for California Grill and Flying Fish Cafe). Roland Muller was the first chef to lead Citricos, followed by Gray Byrum. When Byrum left the company, Ponticelli was hired to move to the Grand Floridian’s main building from Narcoossee’s, where he was also the chef.