Pescado con coco: Seared grouper meets pigeon peas, rice and coconut sauce at the Dominican Republic marketplace — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
There’s always lots to chew on at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. But in 2015 – as the mega-popular Orlando event celebrates its 20th anniversary – they’re pairing the figurative with the literal.
ABC’s The Chew will be taking up temporary residence at Walt Disney World, taping five shows over three October days spent dishing about Epcot Food & Wine.
Its celebrity co-hosts will be on-hand, as will two brand new marketplaces in an all-new Food & Wine location: Future World.
It’s what Epcot Executive Chef Gregg Hannon is most excited about, in fact.
“Being able to push the envelope on food quality and presentation is going to be a huge task and fun challenge for us at the Chew Lab and Sustainable Chew locations,” he says.
Chocolate for geeks: This dessert is frozen using liquid nitrogen — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Indeed, science meets supper at the Chew Lab, where new items include liquid nitro chocolate almond truffle with warm whiskey caramel, a creamy and creatively frozen dessert.
At Sustainable Chew, dishes will showcase the many culinary gifts Mother Nature has given us. Among them? Pork! Spareribs here are paired with red wine and fennel and cheesy mascarpone grits.
Food and beverage pros at Walt Disney World stay in tune with the trends when planning. This year, the ongoing burger craze is infiltrating the Epcot special events roster in the form of the Rockin’ Burger Block Party. Tickets ($99 to 199 per person) are going fast!
“Burgers have always been a favorite of our guests, but today they’re looking for fun and creative ways to blend flavors inside a tasty roll or bun,” says Marianne Hunnell, Content Development Manager for the 20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. “We’ve had great response to our kalua pork and grass-fed beef sliders at festival marketplaces, and this year our chefs have created some not-so-traditional offerings.”
The Oklahoma barbecue beef slider will be among those featured at the Rockin' Burger Block Party — Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson
Block Party-goers can look forward to some unique takes: short ribs, chicken, duck, lamb, scallops, branzino and more.
“We will, of course have some traditional all-beef patties served, as well,” says Hunnell. “And toppings with influences from Thai, Italian and Middle Eastern cuisines, to name a few.”
Can’t make the celebration? Make it a point to search out Hannon’s favorite – the Florida grass-fed beef slider with pimento cheese – at the Hops and Barley marketplace. Beat the Orlando heat and pair it with a beer flight while you’re at it.
Dozens of culinary celebs count Epcot into their yearly plans. 2015 is no exception, and guests can hear their stories – and enjoy a plated brunch – at the “What’s Cooking With . . .” programs ($129 per person), held most Fridays and Sundays throughout the festival’s run.
Guests this year include Andrew Zimmern, Robert Irvine, Alex Guarnaschelli and Cat Cora.
Celebrity hosts from "The Chew" will be taping shows at Epcot on Oct. 7 to 9 — Photo courtesy of Craig Sjodin / ABC
And if you’ve never experienced the immersive Party for the Senses, Hunnell says general admission tickets are still available ($169 per person).
“Who can resist an evening of gourmet treats perfect for pairing with delicious wines, beers and cocktails from around the world while watching astounding acts by Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba?” she asks.
Fifty tasting stations – and more than 50 wines and beers – make this event a foodie circus, even without the live performers.
Looking for something a little bubblier?
The new Parisian Afternoon: Sandwiches, Macarons and Bubbles event ($30 to 60 per person) could be your Epcot ooh-la-la, held Saturdays at the France Pavilion’s lauded Monsieur Paul restaurant. Guests will partake of mouthwatering mignardises, perfect petit fours and more. Unlimited mimosas make the celebration sweeter.
The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival runs from Sept. 25 to Nov. 16 in 2015. See the festival website for details and many more offerings.