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Talking with food pro Shay Spence – PREP 405

Talking with food pro Shay Spence – PREP 405

From culinary student to magazine food editor to Next Level Chef contestant, Disney enthusiast and social media content creator Shay Spence has created the perfect job that meshes with so many of his interests. Shay chats with Shannon about his background including where his love of Disney originated, how his career path has landed him at this spot, and what he believes is the most underrated restaurant at Walt Disney World.

All About Shay Spence

Shay is a food professional and was previously the Food Editor for People Magazine. He was the one Disney World fan on staff so anytime there was an opportunity to cover Disney, he was the one who got to do that.

During the shut-down, he began posting some of his Disney content online. He does a lot of Disney and cooking content. He lives in Key West and has a laid back island lifestyle.

Shay with a pride pastry

Shay is originally from Texas and his family is still in Austin. Shay recently got married after being together for nearly 10 years. He and his partner were married in a beautiful Key West wedding.

Shay’s Career

Shay went to culinary school at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. His first externship was in Rachael Ray’s test kitchen. He loves writing and began writing for the magazine. He continued to work his way through the magazine. 

He was hired as the food editor for People Magazine and was there for 6 years. Simultaneously, he was also able to grow his following on Twitter and then TikTok. 

Eventually he had to choose one opportunity due to conflict between monetizing his social media. He trusted himself and decided to go off on his own. 

Food Journalism

There are a few coveted jobs in traditional media but if you do not have one of those, Shay suggests building up your social media. Shay says you should try it all and have your brand on social media. 

With the ever changing landscape, in this industry it is important to be yourself and have a full portfolio of content. 

While Shay was working at People Magazine, he was committed to staying on top of food trends. He doesn’t stay on top of them quite like he did before. He’s more interested in doing his own thing now. 

Shay loves the trajectory of his career because he can cover whatever he wants now. He loves fine dining but also loves oreos and fast food.

Best Food

Italy has the best food, according to Shay. He also recently went to Puerto Rico and it was incredible. He has plans to go to Paris and will definitely enjoy food there! 

Puerto Vallarta is another favorite of Shay’s. He loves the food at Casa Kimberly. He also loves Sayulita which is about 45 minutes outside of Puerto Vallarta. 

Next Level Chef

Shay says he doesn’t like a high pressure kitchen situation and being on season 2 of Next Level Chef was the highest pressure situation! He did a few interviews after they reached out because of his social media presence. 

He was asked to do one more phone interview and then traveled to London to shoot the season. They continued interviewing and said that they would be cutting 4 more people. He didn’t find out until the night before filming began if he was even going to be on the show.

Shay was chosen and was one of the social media chefs on the show. He describes the experience as very stressful and the basement kitchen was impossible. 

Shay says he was very glad that he did it but it was the most intense experience of his life. He was completely cut off because they weren’t permitted to leave their rooms or use their phones. He became very good friends with the other contestants. 

Shannon notes that it was a great cast and especially loved Tini. 


Shay has loved Disney since he was a kid. He has two older sisters so he began going when he was very young. Shay has very wonderful memories of going with his dad as a child as well.  

Shay with a Mickey Pretzel

The love for Disney was reignited when he was in his 20s. He started covering Disney when he was working at Rachael Ray and was always pitching Disney content. 

Shay’s Favorite Disney Restaurants

Flying Fish – the food is incredible and the service is really great. He loves that it feels like fine dining but also casual. He loves the Potato-wrapped Red Snapper

Topolino’s Terrace – He loves it for breakfast and dinner. He recommends the wood-fired steak and eggs. He also loves dinner there and says the rigatoni is his favorite.

Sci-Fi Dine-in – He remembers eating here as a kid and loves going back now. He thinks it’s so fun and likes the burgers and shakes. 

Shay likes Flower and Garden festival at Epcot. He loves that it’s nice weather and so beautiful. 

Shay’s Food Guide

Shay with his Disney Food Guide

Shay has created a Food Guide for Disney World. There are 225 restaurant reviews with photos, recommendations, and things he doesn’t like. 

While you are in the park, you can pull up this guide and click to see what you should order. Shay has also created an itinerary for foods and shops. He is adding a deluxe resort-hopping itinerary. 

Shay is updating this weekly and those updates are all added automatically. You only pay once and get all the updates! This will also include festival information and updates. 

Shay was kind enough to give a discount to all of our listeners. You can purchase the course with this discount using this exclusive link: Discount for Shay’s Ultimate Disney World Food Guide

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