ANAHEIM — Chef Oscar Martinez, the longest tenured employee at Disneyland Resort, retired Wednesday, Sept. 27.
The 81-year-old has worked at the theme park for 60 years. He’s been a chef at Main Street, U.S.A.’s Carnation Café since 1967.
A Disneyland spokeswoman said Martinez “looks forward to traveling, visiting family and hopes to find time to relax.”
Martinez could not be reached, he was at a private party being held for him on Main Street, U.S.A.
Martinez is known as the chef of Disneyland’s popular breakfast, “Oscar’s Choice,” served with his signature potatoes, and in recent years as the ambassador of the Carnation Café.
Most mornings the enthusiastic Martinez, wearing his signature white chef hat, could be seen greeting and engaging visitors with a warm smile, a handshake and asking a series of questions about how their day was or if they were having a good time.
Video featuring Oscar from 2016
Disneyland’s oldest employee Oscar Martinez celebrates 60 years of service on Thursday
Born in Brownsville, Texas, and raised in Arkansas, Martinez moved to California with his late wife, Shelly Anne.
With no formal cooking experience, Martinez started his career as a busboy at Disneyland’s Fantasy 1 restaurant in 1956, the year after the Anaheim park opened. Though he never personally spoke to his boss, he previously has said his fondest memory was watching Walt Disney walk up and down Main Street, U.S.A. taking meticulous notes about the theme park.
Over the years, Martinez worked in several roles including teaching employees the “Disney Way” of dressing – at the time, men had short haircuts, no mustaches, shiny shoes and black socks, and there was no makeup for the girls. He later trained employees how to cook on a grill.
In 1967, a manager noticed Martinez’s speed and efficiency and tried him out on the cooking grill at the Carnation Café.
It’s at the cafe where Martinez left his most indelible mark.
Disney executives noticed Martinez’s flavorful breakfast potatoes, cooked with butter and green and red peppers, and later put it on the café’s menu.
In 2011, he was the first employee to receive an award for working 55 years at Disneyland.