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Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Press Preview

The 14th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival kicks off on September 25th. To help get things started, Disney invited members of the press to preview some of the new and exciting taste-treats being served this year and to provide us with some interesting facts about the event. So when Deb Wills asked me if I'd like to represent Allears.net, I jumped at the chance to cover this gastronomic assignment.

The preview was hosted by Chef Jens Dahlmann, Executive Chef, Epcot Food & Beverage and took place in the kitchen located behind the World Showplace pavilion. World Showplace Pavilion is the exhibition area positioned between Canada and the United Kingdom.


Chef Jens Dahlmann


For those of you who haven't visited Disney World during this six-week festival, Epcot plays host to a culinary explosion of tastes. Surrounding the World Showcase Lagoon, twenty-seven kiosks are erected and dedicated to a number of international cuisines. Each station serves samples of that culture's best recipes (for a nominal fee -- credit cards accepted). The portions are just large enough to give you a nice sampling, but not too large as to fill you up. This allows you to “eat your way around the world.”

In addition, daily wine and beer tastings are held around the lagoon. Also, a series of special culinary programs featuring a lineup of renowned winemakers, guest chefs, and speakers are available. Wine seminars and elegant dinners are also offered.

This is a hugely popular event that is attended by many locals from the Orlando area, but also by a large number of out-of-state visitors who plan their vacation around this happening.

Besides finding samples from some of your old Epcot friends like Japan, France, and Mexico, you'll also discover other countries represented like Greece, Poland, Chile, and India. This year, three new stations have been added, Thailand, Brazil, and a Dessert and Champagne booth.

Planning the Food & Wine Festival is a mammoth undertaking. Even while last year's event was taking place, Chef Jens was already making notes on how to improve this year's celebration of food. Serious menu planning and recipe creation began earnestly in March and needed to be completed by May in order to make this year's September deadline. In all, seventy new items were created for the 2009 event. Or in other words, 70% of the menus were recreated. But for those of you who love the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, don't worry. This most popular dish of the festival is still available.

When Chef Jens was asked if the food was “dumbed down” for picky eaters, he gave a definite no. He went on to say that he makes every effort to be authentic and respectful to each culture. In addition, whenever a recipe called for it, the dish would be created at the actual kiosk to preserve freshness. He also hoped that his selections would have aromas enticing enough to draw us into kiosk after kiosk.

Of the 27 food stations, 21 are operated by Disney and 6 are operated by participants. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of additional man power to put on an event like this. Between the International Food Fair and the Party of the Senses (to be discussed later), 400 additional cast members are needed. Disney uses 77 of their own chefs and 117 guest chefs to make it all happen.

In the past, Disney printed one guide book for the Food & Wine Festival. Within its forty pages, you could find detailed information about the entertainment offered and the many seminars being conducted. But it was discovered that most guests only wanted to know the times and places and weren't all that concerned with the details. So this year, a second, weekly handout is available that only provides the essential information about the event. So try to be “green” and select the brochure that's right for you.


Festival Guide

Weekly Guide


Chef Jens provided us with eight samples of some of this year's new offerings. If I tried to describe each dish individually, I'd quickly run out of synonyms for delicious. Just let it be said that all of us at this tasting were gushing over each selection. Below I give you the item's name and the kiosk where it can be found.

Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Lime garnished with Popcorn " Rio de Janiero, Brazil


Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Lime


Chicken and Coconut Soup with Mushrooms " Bangkok, Thailand


Chicken and Coconut Soup with Mushrooms


Lobster & Scallop Fisherman's Pie " Cork, Ireland


Lobster & Scallop Fisherman's Pie


Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki " Athens, Greece


Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki


Lamb Slider with Tomato Chutney " Wellington, New Zealand


Lamb Slider with Tomato Chutney


Seared Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Puree and Mango Barbeque Sauce " Cape Town, South Africa


Seared Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Puree


Grand Marnier Parfait with Orange Coulis " Desserts & Champagnes


Grand Marnier Parfait with Orange Coulis


Warm Chocolate Lave Cake with Bailey's Ganache " Cork, Ireland


Warm Chocolate Lave Cake


Each Saturday evening during the Food & Wine Festival, Party of the Senses takes place in the World Showplace Pavilion. From 6:30 to 9:00, up to eleven-hundred guests partake in a tribute to gastronomic pleasures. Eighteen, four-sided booths offer a vast array of food and wine " all included in one price of $135. I know some of you are taking a deep gulp at that price, but this is a special event and Disney doesn't skimp. And if the food isn't enough to convince you to attend, live entertainment is also on hand.

This year, a couple of things are different. First, each party will have a different theme as listed below:

September 26 " Spanish Cuisine
October 3 " Comfort Food with a Twist
October 10 " South American Cuisine
October 17 " Classical Cuisine
October 24 " Asian Cuisine
October 31 " The Fall Harvest
November 7 " Indian Cuisine

Also new this year at the Party of the Senses is the “Wine View Lounge.” For an additional $75pp, an exclusive area is set up within the World Showplace Pavilion where you will have a reserved table for your party. In addition, a premium bar, an artisan cheese station, and white-glove service will enhance your evening. Note, the Wine View Lounge is already sold out for five of the seven events so you might want to start thinking ahead to next year. Call 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378) for more information and reservations.

Even if you're not a foodie, you should think seriously about giving the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival a try. If nothing else, strolling the World Showcase promenade is a treat during this time of year. And it's nobody's fault but your own if you go away hungry.

The previous post in this blog was Test Track - Epcot.

The next post in this blog is Bistro de Paris - Epcot.

Comments (16)

Angela:

Wow....it's almost dinner time and I'm hungry just looking at these pictures. I went to the Party for the Senses 2 years ago and LOVED it!

The Food & Wine Fest is my favorite time to visit Disney...there is just so much to see & do at Epcot. The festival always reminds me that Fall is here. Thanks for sharing!

Debbie Bolen:

The food looks incredible - I am so sad I have to miss my favorite event this year!

Jack,

You have such a rough job.

I hope all the food you took pictures of did not go to waist. It looked fabulous, especially the Lobster & Scallop Fisherman's Pie and the Warm Chocolate Lave Cake.

I think you could charge people to go along with you on your researching missions.

There are many Disney Fans that would love to see and do the things you get to do, and pay for it.

Diane C.:

Hi Jack,

Another great blog entry! My mouth is watering; wish I could be there as I have enjoyed this event in the past.

I hate to be a party pooper, but don't forget to mention that each kiosk does charge a fee for the food. I know many of us are familiar with the event, but I didn't see this mentioned in your description. Bring lots of small bills! You don't want to make it all the way to the champagne kiosk and discover that your pockets are empty!! (althought I'm sure the probably take credit cards!) : - )

Diane C.

Mike Venere:

Cannot wait.....we splurged a little this year and in addition to going in August we have decided to take a second trip over a weekend in October for the festival!!!
I am salavating after reading this one!!!

Deb S:

Thanks Jack for the sneak peek. We're still full of magic from our August trip. After seeing those delic pics and reading your report I'm excited & ready to fill my senses at the Food & Wine festival in October. We haven't been to the F&W fest since 2005 and see it's grown in kiosks, parties and interesting demonstrations. Eat to the Beat! Can't wait!

Aryn:

Love all of the pictures, I can almost taste the dishes.

Vanessa:

Over the years the portion sizes seem to have become a little larger,and accordingly the prices for each "Taste" have gone up a bit.
You can purchase a gift card (They have one with the F&W Fest theme on it) and use it at each of the Kiosks to pay for your treat. Last year I planned $6 per country. Some countries we didn't try and that gave us the extra bit for the couple of wines I chose. We also shared each plate. There is way too many to eat of each one by yourself. This year we recieved the booklet in the mail and cannot eliminate any of the countries, every one has something we want to try. So we are going for 2 days and not making any ADRs. We will nibble our way around the world for 2 whole days-Wish Us Luck !

Sarah Ashley:

I leave for Disney in 11 days ... and I cannot wait to drag my boyfriend around the world, eating as many different things as possible. Sort of like stepping into the "Travel Channel," but cheaper!

Aubrey Cooper:

I was once told that you could use snack credits from the dining plan to purchase some tasty treats. Is this true? If so, is there anywhere that tells which "tastes" the snack credit applies to, or is there a price limit?

Thanks again for answering all of our questions!

Jack's Answer:

I actually stopped by a hotel concierge's desk to find an answer to your question. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.

Some Food & Wine kiosks allow you to use a snack credit, others do not. And the hostess could not tell me which ones. If it is available at a given kiosk, there will be a Snack Credit Emblem on the menu.

Cedric:

Thank you for the food pics! I'm definitely looking forward to the Shrimp Stew and Seared Beef Tenderloin! :)

Suzie:

All the food looks lovely! I'm sure that it tasted divine, too! You have such a hard job! :0)

Kathleen D:

I was at the cast preview on Thursday, and one of the new things I tried was the Grand Marnier parfait, and all I can say is WOW! Loved it! I did notice that some of the portions were smaller (cheddar cheese soup at Canada for one), and was a bit unhappy about that. But everything else was very good. Some of your photos have made me want to go again already!

Kirstin:

Hey Jack!

I'm a little late commenting on this, but wanted to thank you for covering the F&W Fest! I'll be running the Race for the Taste 10K the morning of 10/11 and my parents and I are headed straight to Epcot to do all the tasting we can after the race! It will be our first Festival and we are SO excited! I've never tried Canada's Cheddar Cheese soup, so that's on my list. Can I ask you specifically what you thought about the Lobster and Scallop Fisherman's Pie? That's one I'm curious about.

Thanks for whetting my appetite for this weekend! :)

-Kirstin

Jack's Answer:

The Lobster and Scallop Fisherman's Pie was very good, however, I thought the cheese over powered the delicate flavors of the lobster and the scallops. When I'm spending $7-$8 for a mini-bowl, I want to be able to taste the expensive meats. I'm not saying you shouldn't order it, just be aware.

Katie:

Is there ANY way to find the recipe and directions for making South Africa's Seared Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato puree and Mango barbeque sauce?? It was my favorite dish at the festival and I would love to make it for all my friends.

Thanks so much!!

Jack's Answer:

I don't know. Your best bet is to stop by Guest Relations and ask. Or ask at the specific kiosk. You can also call Disney information at 407-824-4321, but I have my doubts that they can help you.

Please, please, please tell me you'll share the recipe for 2009 Lobster & Scallop Fisherman's Pie! It was awesome and I'm addicted!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 22, 2009 4:02 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Test Track - Epcot.

The next post in this blog is Bistro de Paris - Epcot.

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