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Review: Epcot Food and Wine Festival Scent Demonstration

This year was my first experience at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, and I will tell you this, it will not be my last. I’m pretty much addicted. Eating & drinking my way around the world? A cranberry bog? AND super cool special events like the Scent Demonstration?  All of this while the kids are at home with Grandma & Grandpa… one can’t go wrong.

Anyhow, I happened to get super lucky that AJ had purchased tickets for the festival’s Scent Demonstration and then couldn’t use them.  When I was asked to go cover this event I had a million questions, the first being, “What in the world is a Scent Demonstration?” As well as, “Are they going to teach me how to use my nose correctly?” And,  “Have I been using it wrong all these years?”

The Scent Demonstration Took Place in the Festival Center

Well, here is how Disney describes it:

“Scent Demonstration – NEW!: Join scent critic Chandler Burr for a unique double-culinary experience—a meal made entirely of scents! You’ll also get to taste one of the courses, prepared by a Disney chef. Sunday, Oct. 2 from 2:45 to 4:00 p.m. $13 per person, tax included.”

I have to admit, although the description had me intrigued, I immediately thought of a field trip that I went on with my son last year at a nature center. One of the activities was to sniff certain bottles filled with “local” scents.  We’re talking everything from sweet honey smell to nasty stinky skunk. So at this point, I’m thinking the demonstration could go either way! Also knowing that my husband and I are both super sensitive to strong perfumes, I was a little nervous and didn’t want to leave the event sniffling and sneezy.

Our event took place at 2:45, so after the DFB main event at Ariel’s at Disney’s Beach Club we grabbed one of these at Beaches and Cream and then my husband and I headed to Epcot.

Frozen Sunshine (Basically a 50/50 bar in liquid form! YUM!)

Frozen Sunshine (basically liquid 50/50 bar, YUM!)

Because we are not as familiar with WDW as we are with Disneyland, we really weren’t sure where the Food and Wine Event Center would be.  We assumed it was going to be in the World Showcase (hello, the food booths are there…), so we headed there without asking anyone. Dumb decision since it was in the total opposite direction.

Anyhow, we finally asked for some directions and made our way to the correct place passing a Cranberry Bog (SQUEAL! I have a fascination with them, strange I know) along the way.

The Cast Member did not find it amusing when I asked what I had to do to put on some rubber pants and get in the bog with him.

Atmosphere

After we found the event center, which was decked out with beautiful floral displays, we checked in and were led to a table that was set up and ready for us.

I loved the pineapple floral displays around the Food & Wine Event Center

Scent Demonstration Table Setting

After everyone was seated the hostess came out to explain to us the process of how the event would run.  Scentologist Chandler Burr would be coming out to tell us all about different scents and how they affect your taste, mood, etc.  Scent raw materials and perfumes would be passed around on blotters and we’d have to “guess” the smell. Fun!

Our “blotter passer outer” was Nancy.  She’d hand our table’s blotters to a man at our table, who would then pass them around to the rest of us sitting there.  There were only 5 people at our table, so we got our blotters pretty quickly.  Some tables had over 15 or so people sitting at them.

Nancy Passing Out Scent Blotters

Scents and Presentation

Scent #1 was an easy one, vanilla! Vanilla was followed by 14 other scents that included everything from perfumes to food: cinnamon, butter, Calvin Klein Secret Obsession, lemon, coconut, and Light Blue by Dolce and Gabbana were all in the mix.

Scentologist Chandler Burr

With each scent, there was a discussion about how that scent is used in either dining or perfume making, and we were also given lots of fun facts along the way.  For example, did you know that 95% of your “taste” experience is actually smell??? I was lucky to be sitting at a table with a chemist who took really good notes, so she let me photograph her blotters!

Great Notes Taken by Our Chemist Table Mate!

After our 15 blotters had been smelled and discussed, Chandler Burr brought out Matt Maslowski, Head Pasty Chef for Epcot Park Events.  They discussed how they’d been working together to create a dessert trio that would incorporate many of the scents we’d just smelled! Intriguing, right? I wasn’t sure about some of the perfume scents in my food, but guess what? No complaints here!

Matt Maslowski & Chandler Burr

As soon as the dessert trio was announced, wine was passed out followed by our tasty treat.

Wine Delivery by Nancy (bummer I caught a mad face, she was very nice!)

Scent Demonstration Dessert Trio

Eats

The first item on the plate was the Compressed Chocolate Cake with Pliable Cinnamon Ganache & Milk Foam.  The scents that were used in the cake were Ethyl Vanillin (vanilla) and Isobutyl Phenylacetate (chocolate).  The scents incorporated into the Pliable Cinnamon Ganache with Milk Foam were Cinnamon, Calvin Klein Secret Obsession, Hydroxyl Butyl Thiazole  (milk/flan) & Le Feu (perfume by Issey Miyake).

Compressed Chocolate Cake with Pliable Cinnamon Ganache & Milk Foam

The second dish was the Coconut Cremeaux with Slow Roasted Golden Pineapple Brulee and Caribbean Rum Jus.  Scents incorporated into this dish included ALD C18 (coconut), Ally Amyl Caproate (pineapple) in the brulee, and cremeaux and Succane Absolute (rum) & Tom Ford “Black Orchid” perfume in the Rum Jus.

Coconut Cremeaux with Slow Roasted Golden Pineapple Brulee and Caribbean Rum Jus.

And third, we had the Toasted Brioche with Caramelized Strawberry Butter and Myer Lemon Marmalade. Scents incorporated into this dish included Pyrazines (toast scent) in the brioche, Diacityl (butter), Furaneol (butterscotch/caramel scent) in the strawberry butter, and Lemon & Dolce & Gabbana “Light Blue” perfume in the Myer Lemon Marmalade.

Toasted Brioche with Caramelized Strawberry Butter and Myer Lemon Marmalade

All three dishes were amazing and it was really fun to “taste” the smells we’d been trying out and discussing.

After the tasting, both Chandler Burr &  Matt Maslowski stuck around to answer audience questions.  I was curious about the behind the scenes planning so I asked a few questions myself.  Matt and Chandler did not know each other prior to this event.  They worked together via internet and phone for only one week to plan the dessert trio menu.  Matt worked with a team of approximately 12 people to create and execute the dishes.  After answering my questions, I had Matt grab Chandler and pose for this great photo.

Chandler Burr and Matt Maslowski

If you’d like to read more about Chandler Burr’s scent expertise, check out his latest book, The Perfect Scent.

The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr

AND, look what my husband got me for my birthday shortly after attending the Scent Demonstration. He liked the scent so much, he thought I should have it. What a fun surprise!

Dolce & Gabana "Light Blue"

Overall

This was the first “Scent Demonstration” presentation in the Food & Wine Festival’s history.  We were told by the host that it sold out and was very well talked about.

They are actually considering doing a whole “scent” dinner next year.  I’d love to check that out. You?

Heather Sievers is the Disney Food Blog’s Dining in Disneyland columnist. See more of her columns here!

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4 Comments

  1. marcellina says:

    this is the coolest thing! I know my husband and I would be interested in doing an entire scent meal! How interesting that those perfume scents were used as well… how did that work while you ate the dish? could you pick out those scents while eating? If I wasn’t so busy I think I would even try to read the book! Awesome review, thanks!

  2. Heather Sievers says:

    @Marcellina – The heavier perfume scents weren’t really as obvious, but the fruity ones like the Dolce and Gabana were; sweet and lemony! I would for sure sign up for a full dinner if it were available, it was a really fun experience.

  3. Noone says:

    I really enjoyed this too! It was so different from the other demos and I’d love to see an expanded format in the future. It was really tough but fun trying to guess the scent, and after that was established, trying to guess whether it was natural or artificial.

    Maybe I misunderstood the demo or this writeup. I thought the desserts didn’t include the samples themselves but they were prepared in a way that would produce those scents. So the milk foam had the warm milk aroma of Le Feu but didn’t actually use the synthetic compound from the perfume.

    Other tidbits from this demo:
    Expression = oil extracted directly from the item, like lemon peel; Essence = extracted through steam; Absolute = extracted through some solvent
    You can also see this in the pic of the notes – Coca-cola has only 4 scents or flavors and they’re surprisingly commonplace: vanilla, lime, cinnamon and clove (wikipedia says nutmeg)

    Heather: were both servers named Nancy?

  4. Heather Sievers says:

    @Noone – I’m sorry, I didn’t specify, when I said “They discussed how they’d been working together to create a dessert trio that would incorporate many of the scents we’d just smelled” I meant that they used ingredients to create those scents, not the actual oils. Also, I’m not sure if there was more than one Nancy, there were a handful of servers, so it’s quite possible! Thanks for all of the bonus info, glad you liked the demo. I really enjoyed it as well.

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