While I was in Epcot last month, I had the chance to attend an Epcot Food and Wine Festival culinary demonstration featuring Buddy Valastro (who considers himself a “baker” rather than a pastry chef)!
Arriving at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Center (the former Wonders of Life pavilion in Future World), I picked up my ticket at the will call booth and headed over to the culinary demonstration area. This spot has been significantly upgraded from last year, with a classy “vineyard” style and upscale show kitchen.
I grabbed a seat up front and took a look at the recipe for the creation the Chef was going to share with us: Tiramisu.
The place was packed on this day, and people without tickets were surrounding the seating area to catch a glimpse of Buddy! I was excited to have the chance to be there and actually taste the dessert!
On With The Show
Right on time, the event began and we were introduced to a representative from Chateau Ste. Michelle winery. This is a pretty ubiquitous winery in my estimation; I see their products everywhere. But I’d never tasted their Gewürztraminer, created from grapes grown in Washington state’s Columbia Valley.
We were served a decent-sized portion in a…no kidding!…real wine glass! This is new and different compared to last year’s culinary demos when the wine was served in small, plastic glasses.
This wine was right up my alley! It was very sweet, but had a spicy element as well. I loved it! We were told that while “Gewürz” is often paired with spicy, smoked, or Asian and Indian ethnic dishes, varieties of it also serve as a great dessert wine. Overall, it’s a very versatile wine.
Once we’d tried the wine, Buddy Valastro was called to the stage amidst plenty of cheering from the audience. He’s really very down-to-Earth, and wanted to make very clear that he’s not about pomp and circumstance — he just wants to make delicious food for his customers. To that end, he got down to the business of the Tiramisu!
Unfortunately, the Kitchen-Aid mixer was a bit of a trial, since Buddy is used to using equipment 20 times the size of this table-top model!
But he quickly sorted it out and began combining a gorgeous mixture of mascarpone cheese, sugar, egg yolks, and heavy cream.
The audience got a good laugh when Buddy grabbed one of the closest utensils — a Mickey spaghetti straining spoon — to stir the espresso mixture on the stove!
Once the two parts of the dessert were ready, it was time to start assembling!
Buddy layered the mascarpone cream with store-bought ladyfingers soaked in the espresso mixture.
He then smoothed more cream on the top and dusted the whole thing with a thin layer of cocoa powder to finish off the dessert.
The audience at this point had received their HUGE portions of tiramisu! Just check out that gorgeous dessert! Definitely a full-sized portion.
Now, I don’t actually like tiramisu. I don’t like the coffee flavor or the alcohol flavor, and most tiramisus are simply wasted on me. However, I loved this. Perhaps it was because it had just been made and the coffee and alcohol flavors hadn’t had a lot of time to “set” into the rest of the dessert, but the mascarpone cream was to-die-for!!! Needless to say, I was very pleasantly surprised and gladly cleaned my bowl!!
Buddy celebrated by downing his own glass of wine!
This was one of my favorite culinary demos ever. The dish was truly delicious, and the wine was superb.
Buddy was a very enjoyable presenter as well. He was comfortable with the audience and explained things in a very easy, straighforward, and hands-on way. Walking away, I felt that I would have no problem duplicating at home what he’d just done in the show kitchen…and that is the mark of a great presenter, because I’m not very handy in the kitchen at all!
Have you been to a culinary demo you loved this year? Let us know in the comments section below!