Epcot Food and Wine Festival Seminar Review: Chefs Keegan Gerhard and Lisa Bailey

OK. Not really. But I did spend an hour with them. And about 50 other people! ;-)

That’s right, I pulled myself out of bed the day the Epcot Food and Wine Festival low-cost seminars went on sale and booked this one first! I’m a huge fan of Chef Gerhard’s and couldn’t wait to see what he and wife Chef Lisa Bailey would prepare! I knew they owned and operated d Bar Desserts in Denver, so I was assuming it’d be something delicious and sweet!

Dessert Sandwich Situation
After taking my seat in the seminar I was excited to read that we’d be watching Keegan and Lisa create a “Dessert Sandwich Situation.” What’s that? A combination of brioche, vanilla butter, raspberry compote, chocolate ganache, and almond ice milk. Sounds pretty delicious, right? I couldn’t wait for it to begin.

Cast Members Passing Out Our Wine Samples

Before long, Pam Smith began chatting with the winemaker about Red Newt “Circle” Reisling — an added bonus, as I must admit that’s my favorite type of wine (which, apparently from their conversation, makes me a very strange wine-drinker as most discount Reisling as being too stuffy or too sweet…). I’d never tried Red Newt, and the “Circle” Reisling did have a stronger acidic bite to it than most. It complimented the super-sweet dessert really well, actually!

Red Newt Circle Reisling

Soon, Pam was introducing Keegan and Lisa, who both came onto the kitchen stage with lots of energy — Keegan immediately opening up a bottle of…possibly Mountain Dew?

Chef Gerhard mentioned that one of his philosophies of dessert creation is “Warm, cool, creamy, crunchy.” These are the four feelings that should be happening in your mouth when you eat dessert! In this particular dessert, the warm is found in the brioche and ganache sandwich, which is pressed in a panini press and heated before serving. The cool and creamy is the found in the almond ice milk and raspberry compote. The crunchy is on top, in the almond garnish.

They immediately set to work on creating the Almond Ice Milk, scalding the milk and sugar and infusing the mixture with toasted almonds.

Flavoring Almond Ice

Once the flavor was infused, Chef Lisa Bailey mixed the drained almonds with powdered sugar. They’re used as a garnish after they’re baked!

Lisa Bailey Strains the Almonds After Infusing the Almond Milk

Sugar is added to the strained almonds

Almonds are Spread on a Baking Sheet and Placed in the Oven

Moving on then to the chocolate ganache that would be used as a little zing of chocolate flavor in the dessert sandwich, Keegan and Lisa began melting dark chocolate to mix with whole milk and cream.

Chocolate for Ganache

Ganache in Process

Keegan soon added the cornstarch/milk slurry to thicken the ganache and the whisking commenced!

Adding Cornstarch Slurry to Ganache

Whisking Milk and Cream into Ganache

Ganache in process, the Chefs moved on to making vanilla butter and vanilla sugar! Yum! Keegan explained the importance of using high-quality vanilla (including the likely fact that the vanilla beans cost more than the rest of the ingredients combined).

Showing off the Vanilla Beans

The vanilla beans were scraped, and the seeds added to melted butter (to brush the brioche) and sugar (to use in the raspberry compote).

Mixing Vanilla into the Sugar

The raspberries were then prepared very simply by adding them to the vanilla sugar along with a bit of lemon zest.

Sugar and Lemon Zest added to Berries

Finally, the brioche was cut into circles using a handy-dandy wine glass after each piece was brushed with the melted vanilla butter.

Buttering Brioche

Cutting brioche into circles with wine glass


From there, the slices were joined with ganache and placed into the panini press.

Pressed Brioche Sandwiches

Once removed, they were topped with raspberry compote, almond ice milk, and a few sugared, baked almonds for garnish.

Placing Ice Milk on Final Dish

And here’s the final product!

Dessert Sandwich Situation

The event was definitely worth the $10 I paid for it! While I sometimes don’t walk away from these seminars with very much new knowledge or inspiration, this particular event was presented with wit, style, and interesting banter. Chef Gerhard and Chef Bailey clearly know how to present clearly and effortlessly, while maintaining the interest of the audience. Little tidbits of information and takeaways were offered that could actually be applied in cooking and creating back home. I was duly impressed with this particular event, and I really felt that I knew Chef Gerhard and his work a bit better after taking part.

However, I will say that I think knowing a bit about the chef and his/her work before attending an event like this is key. It will allow you to take a more avid interest in what’s being done on the stage as well as have a bit of background on why s/he might have chosen to prepare the particular dish s/he did. I figure, if you’re paying money to see something like this, you might as well get all you can out of it. Do a little bit of research before you go — it will make the experience that much richer.

To see more of our 2010 Epcot Food and Wine Festival coverage, check out our 2010 Epcot Food and Wine Festival page! If you’d like to attend a seminar this year, check out the low-cost seminars and demonstrations page for info on how to book!

Food & Wine Festival Tip: Meeting Celebrities on a Budget

I’ve been to a lot of Food and Wine Festival seminars. I’ve been to expensive ones and cheap ones, good ones and bad ones. What I’ve found is that when you’re on a budget, stick with the inexpensive demo/seminars (or “deminars”) held in the Festival Center. They feature the big stars just like the expensive events do, and you still get to learn a little bit about how they go about their passion of food and dish creation.

This year, I decided to forego the hugely expensive Delicious Discoveries First Bites event ($195), which promised an audience with Chef Gerhard, and instead booked this seminar ($10), which did the same! I still got to watch him create a dessert, meet him personally, get his autograph, and have a photo taken of us, which is a pretty great deal for $10. (And in truth, you could have met him and gotten his autograph for free — the meet and greet area is open to everyone.)


  1. says

    It sounds like you had a great time at this presenation AJ.

    From what I have heard Chef Gerhard is a very kind guy and knows a lot! Although I have never heard of Lisa Bailey before, and she doesn’t seem to ring any bells.

    The show that I find him funny on is the Food Network Challenge with him narrating since his voice is so distinct and recognizeable.

    Now that you mention it, I could meet him pretty easily. ;)

  2. says

    Josh — Absolutely! He was hilariously funny, too! I was laughing through the whole presentation! Lisa Bailey is his wife — she’s also an accomplished pastry chef. :-) It was cool to watch them work together.

  3. Alan says

    Great job AJ. I feel like I was at the demo. This goes to show that a great dessert take someone as much work as a great entree. It’s not as easy as opening a box of Entenmann’s donuts or a scoop of Ben and Jerry’s. Although, those are not the worse things in the world to be doing.

  4. Jamie says

    I’m very disappointed in this year’s F&W Festival… I was really hoping to see the Dean Brothers and Robert Irvine… but neither are on the list of celebrity chef’s this year. 2009 was an awesome F&W Festival! Oh well… hopefully next year they will be back!

  5. says

    Funny, when we were at the Party for the Senses, my Mom mentioned that there was a dry Riesling being offered (one of my favorites.) She showed me where it was and when I walked over I noticed it was Red Newt! I had to laugh since I wasn’t expecting to see a Finger Lakes winery! Of course I had some because I knew it was a safe bet…I’ve already tried it a number of times!!

    Jamie-Robert Irvine will be there on October 22 & 24. And Jamie Deen will be there on October 16

  6. Valerie says

    Thanks so much for the review…it really was detailed and I can’t wait to play with the idea. I am looking forward to the day I get to go to one of these instead of reading about them. And it doesn’t sound like there could have been a better one.

    I’m a huge Riesling fan myself and most people look at me strange when I say it’s my favortie, although I’ve never tried the Red Newt so I’ll have to try to find it.

    Thanks again.

  7. Shayne says

    How fun! I love living vicariously through you! The seminar sounded like lots of fun and you sure can’t beat the price.

  8. says

    Alan — Thank you! I agree, I’m an equal opportunity dessert eater!

    Jamie — I do believe Robert Irvine is doing two seminars in late October, and I thought the Dean Brothers were scheduled to appear as well. Hmm…

    Kelly — Is it a wine you like? Any other finger lakes reislings you would recommend? Also, thanks for clarification on the chefs; I knew they were going to be there, but couldn’t pull up exact dates!

    Shayne — No kidding! $10 to meet a culinary celebrity? No contest.
    Valerie — Any hope for attending the festival next year?

  9. Kendra says

    We had a great time at Chef Gerhard’s presentation and you did a great job of summarizing it up. The dessert was delicious and the reisling tasted a lot better to me when paired with the “Dessert Sandwich Siituation” We stood in line afterward and met Chef Gerhard. He was so nice and signed our recipes to our two sons who love watching the Food Network and the Challenges. We have been to many Food and Wine Festivals but this was our first Culinary Demo. It was money well spent!

  10. says

    Kendra — Thanks for your comment! I really thought it was one of the best culinary demos I’ve ever attended. Great choice!!

  11. says

    AJ- I like dry reislings the best. Red Newt is pretty good, but I think my favorite is Sheldrake Point. There’s a Reisling Festival in Canandaigua every year in the end of August. So we can try a lot all at once…and then they all run together :) Dr Frank’s is always a popular Reisling too.

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