Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival Celebrates 20 Years

  • Food & Wine Festival Adds New Offerings

    In 2015, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in Orlando celebrates 20 years of bringing culinary trends to an increasingly savvy audience. This year, the festivities go network, as ABC's The Chew will be broadcasting live from the event and two Chew-themed marketplaces stretch the event into Future World for the very first time. "We have more real estate because the festival has gotten so popular," says Jens Dahlmann, the festival's general manager. "We have created additional marketplaces and a lot more space for guests to sit and relax." And, of course, for them to enjoy all the new offerings. See a few highlights now.

    Photo courtesy of Matt Stroshane / Disney

  • ABC's "The Chew" Inspires Two New Marketplaces

    The Chew Lab and Sustainable Chew marketplaces are offering some of the most highly anticipated items, all of which were inspired in some way by the popular show's celebrity chefs and culinary team. "Our executive chef has worked very closely with them and refined the recipes," says Dahlmann, "because while you can more easily create a great dish for 10 people, here we are creating those dishes for many, many guests in a very small kitchen. This turned out to be a great partnership, a great collaboration."

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Pork Spareribs at Sustainable Chew

    This new dish, say close-watching Disney staffers, is very hot out of the gate. Dahlmann, an admitted "sucker for pork," is a fan. "The spareribs have these wonderful cheesy grits underneath with orangey zest and fresh herbs. It’s just delicious, with a great balance of flavors." He also recommends the crispy pork belly with black beans and tomato, available in the Brazil marketplace.

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • The Frozen Chew-tini

    Food and Beverage Manager Kiki Cortello says the pressure was on during planning. "Our culinary team has created some really exciting dishes, and we had to match what they’re doing in food with the beverages," says Cortello. "We’re introducing many new things guests haven’t seen before." The Chew-tini – available at the Chew Lab marketplace – is just one. "It's very zesty and refreshing, with carrot, mango and citrus, and they put a dehydrated apple chip right on top!"

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • The Smoking Hibiscus, Featuring Montelobos Mezcal Joven

    Stand back, because in the Chew section, they're trying science! "We’re really excited to be using liquid nitrogen out on the promenade," says Cortello. It's something Disney has never done before. "It’s fun and visually stunning. In the Smoking Hibiscus, you can taste the smoke in the drink. You see it when you get it, and then you get to eat the flower." 

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle at the Chew Lab

    This one, says Dahlmann, has guests clamoring to eat dessert first. "It's great to see, and it’s a fantastic dish: super ice-cold chocolate mousse frozen with the liquid nitrogen is a wonderful show for the guests. And the hot whiskey caramel sauce is delicious. The different textures and the beautiful presentation just make it a wow." 

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Soufflé de Yuca Topped with Griddled Cheese

    Just one of the new items guests will find at the Dominican Republic marketplace, the Soufflé de Yuca is a dish that oozes Latin comfort food: beautifully seared cheese, creamy and fatty, lies atop a bed of yucca, a staple carbohydrate in this part of the world. Very complementary. And also vegetarian.

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Caramel Flan with Rum-Roasted Pineapple

    The Dominican Republic marketplace returns after a long hiatus from Food & Wine, and its many new offerings will make it a popular stop. This creamy-cool flan gets a fruity treatment with pineapple (and another regional staple: rum). It should prove a winner for dessert fans looking to beat the Florida heat.

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Comfort Food at the Farm Fresh Marketplace

    Just because it's Farm Fresh doesn't mean it can't be ooey-gooey. The Loaded Mac 'n' Cheese with Neuske's Pepper Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers and Green Onions doubles down on both. Pair it with a crisp, refreshing cider; several are available at this marketplace.

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Hard Cider Flights

    And speaking of: for the first time ever, guests can enjoy ciders in a flight. "We've got the pumpkin cider, which is not only great for this time of year, but ciders are trending now," Cortello explains. "Along with that, guests will enjoy elderberry, raspberry and pear. It's really fun."

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Eat to the Beat

    Yes, the festival's Eat to the Beat concerts are back, this year featuring artists like returning faves Air Supply, Rick Springfield and Sugar Ray, as well as all-new guests that include Maxi Priest, Tiffany and Everclear. But even if you miss out on the evening entertainment, you'll find the Epcot Jammin' Chefs out and about in the park, cooking up expert rhythms – as usual. 

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Shrimp Sans "Barbie" at the Australia Marketplace

    Disney, long a leader in gluten-free offerings, has a host available throughout this year's Food & Wine Festival. One such dish is the Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Pepper, Onion and Snap Peas. Pair it with the Bulletin Place Unoaked Chardonnay or a Cooper's Brewery Extra Strong Vintage Ale.

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Go Bog or Go Home!

    'Tis the season for the cranberry harvest. And short of heading to Cape Cod, Epcot is your best option for a lesson in how they grow these tart, colorful favorites – one of only three fruits native to North America, believe it or not! At the Ocean Spray cranberry bog, guests can talk to a real grower and track the berry's journey from farm to table. 

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • An Old Fave Returns to Hops & Barley

    While we're talking about the northeast . . . guests who have been missing the "lobstah" will be pleased to note the return of the New England Lobster Roll to the American Adventure Pavilion. A host of beers are available, as well. But to keep it in the family, you might choose the Samuel Adams Rebel IPA – brewed in Boston, of course. 

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Art Plays a Part

    There's no shortage of fabulous festival-centric merchandise at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. You can deviate from the usual with a piece of art that showcases your oenophilic tendencies. Or you could just buy wine! "Our Festival Wines were inspired by the World Showcase," says Cortello. "We have a Cabernet out of Paso Robles and a Chardonnay out of Napa Valley." They are available by the bottle in the Festival Center and by the glass at the Chew Lab marketplace.

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Craft and Custom Pours Abound

    The Craft Beer Marketplace returns to the Odyssey Center with an expansive lounge where guests can cool off and relax. All the offerings this year come from Florida breweries. "Funky Buddha's Vanilla Espresso Porter is fantastic," says Cortello. Brewed with ancho and chipotle peppers, it has a little bite on the back end. "Florida Beer Company's Passport 20 is a festival exclusive. "They pulled an ingredient from each of our countries around the World Showcase for this tripel, Belgian-style beer."

    Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson

  • Croissant Aux Escargots in France

    The buttery, garlicky escargot is always popular in France. This year's version comes baked into a croissant. You can pair it with an equally buttery Chardonnay from Macon-Villages, Vieilles Vignes Mommessin or go sparkly with a bubbly and refreshing Pomegranate Kir. Tchin-tchin! 

    Photo courtesy of A.D.Thompson