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2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival News: Menu Items, Events, and Chefs

Once again this year I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Chef Marianne Hunnel, a long-time Disney Chef who has been in charge of development for the Epcot Food & Wine Festival for the past 7 years!

For a bit of background on Chef Hunnel as well as some info about how the Epcot Food & Wine Festival comes together each year, be sure to read our 2011 interview of Chef Hunnel!

She’s truly one of the most joyful and delightful people I’ve ever spoken with — you can tell this woman is passionate about the Festival and about making sure that Disney guests are pleased with their experience, and that she has a blast doing her job.

Chef Marianne Hunnel

2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: Taste Your Way Around the World

The Epcot Food and Wine Festival theme this year is: Taste Your Way Around the World, and it will take place from September 28th through November 12th — a whole 46 days!

As always, you should keep an eye on our 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival page for details throughout the summer. We’re updating all the time over there so that you have the latest news and information.

And, luckily, Chef Hunnel was able to tell us some interesting details that we get to share exclusively with you today! Here are a few fun secrets and tips to keep in mind if you’re headed to Epcot this Fall!

New and Returning Items at the World Showcase Booths

While many of the fan favorite menu items will be returning (yep — the Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup is back!), some booths will feature past menu items with a “twist,” says Hunnel.

For example, the steamed mussels at the Belgium booth will be slightly different than guests remember.

And it sounds like the Australian lamb chop will return with a mint pesto sauce this year (subject to change, of course).

Belgian mussels with garlic and cream

Germany will introduce a twist on the ham and cheese spaetzel with a new schinken noodle gratin dish.

Also, New Zealand has traded in the lamb slider for a lamb meatball with tomato chutney.

There will be around 12 dishes that will be completely new to the World Showcase Marketplace Booths this year! Here are just a few…:

  • Three new Artisinal cheeses at the Cheese Booth
  • Nesquick Froth,” a light, airy Nesquick smoothie, at the Desserts and Champagne Booth (guests can choose from chocolate or strawberry)
  • More “family-friendly” drinks like non-alcoholic smoothies and “Honest Kids” organic juices, which have half the sugar of regular fruit punches

But the best news I heard from Chef Hunnel was this: the Canada booth will be introducing a Mushroom Filet to the marketplace menu this year! That’s right! The Canada booth will now include three of my most favorite dishes from Le Cellier: the mushroom filet (no word yet on whether or not that delicious risotto will accompany the filet), the spicy chicken sausage with sweet corn polenta, and the cheddar cheese soup.

A syrah will be on the menu as a pair with the filet.

Canada Booth a la 2012!

I can’t wait to hit this booth! Now I just need to convince them to add poutine…

New Marketplaces: Terra Vegan Marketplace, and the Florida Marketplace

Also, as we reported recently, two brand new 2012 booths will appear at the Festival this year: Terra, a Vegan Marketplace; and the Florida Marketplace.

Terra Vegan Marketplace
Terra will feature Trik’n Chick’n Curry with Basmati Rice, and Chili Colorado with House Made Chips and Cashew Cheese. Yep — all totally vegan! How do they do it? Chef Hunnel said these dishes include specialty vegetable protein products from Gardein.

Chili Colorado with House Made Chips and Cashew Cheese

Terra will also offer wines from organic and sustainable Paul Dolan Winery in Mendocino County. Terra will also serve a dairy-free, lactose-free Berry smoothie!

Florida Marketplace
The Florida Marketplace will invoke an old-fashioned Florida feel. Here, the Festival will be celebrating true local flavor! Here you’ll find a White Corn Arepa with Mangalitsa Pork and Sweet Corn, and Florida Shrimp Ceviche with Fire Roasted Veggies and Crispy Plantains.

Florida Shrimp Ceviche with Fire Roasted Vegetables and Crispy Plantains

This booth will feature an incredible Key Lime Wine from the Florida Orange Groves Winery as well as Florida Lager and Key West Southernmost Wheat from Florida Beer Company.

Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, 2011 Culinary Demonstration

Returning Chefs

Many of you will be pleased to know that some of last year’s most popular chefs will be returning again in 2012! Celebrity Chefs returning this year include:

  • Jamie Deen
  • Cake Boss Buddy Valastro
  • Andrew Zimmern
  • Robert Irvine
  • Gale Gand
  • Rock Harper
  • And More!

And, of course, there will be many of new faces to find, like Erika Davis from Top Chef Just Desserts!

New and Returning Events

Here’s a bit of info on some of your favorite returning events, as well as some new additions! Note that booking for many of these events will open on August 14th, 2012! You can book by calling 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) or booking many of them online at disneyworld.com/foodandwine.

Party for the Senses
As we reported earlier, Epcot’s glamorous Party for the Senses will be returning again this year, and will take place on October 6, 13, 20, 27, and November 3, from 7:30-10pm. You can read our review of the Party for the Senses from 2011 here.

Kurobota Pork Sliders at Party for the Senses in 2011

New this year, however, the party will have three separate ticketing tiers: regular entry, reserved seating, and Wine View Lounge. That second one is the new option, where guests will pay a slightly higher amount for reserved seats, but no access to the Wine View Lounge.

2011 Cheese Booth

Chef-Led VIP Access Tours
These brand new events will happen on Wednesdays from 10:30am-1pm during the festival. Small groups of around 10 guests will have the chance to meet with a Festival Chef in the Festival Center, then tour the World Showcase Marketplaces as the Chef describes the dishes.

The event will include information, eats, and even some “storytelling,” says Hunnel! Cost has not yet been finalized on these events.

3D Disney Dessert Discovery Parties
Returning this year on select Fridays is one of the Festival’s most-loved events: the 3D Illuminations Dessert Party. Accented with a fun “3D” view of the fireworks, guests will enjoy a variety of sweet desserts for a (usually) decent price. Check out a great review of this event from last year!

Flambeed Cinnamon Doughnuts at a 2011 3D Dessert Party

This year, Babycakes NYC Bakery will provide vegan and gluten-free desserts in addition to the regular fare.

What’s Happening in France?
Die-hard festival fans (like me) have been wondering what will happen to the beloved French Regional Lunches (nicknamed “Frunches”) this year, as their standard venue — Bistro de Paris in Epcot’s France — will be undergoing renovations.

Well…here’s the bad news. According to Chef Hunnel, French Regional Lunches will not be returning this year…though she has been assured that they will be back in 2013.

However, the Grand Marnier Tasting events will return this year, taking place in the Festival Center.

Magic of Healthy Living
This event debuted last year and was such a hit that they’re bringing it back for an encore. It’s a one-time thing again, hosted by Andrew Zimmern and a few other (not yet confirmed) chefs. As it was last year, it will feature kid-friendly and healthy foods.

Italian Regional Food and Wine Lunches
Italy will host Food and Wine lunches this year. I’m not sure yet if these will be similar to those gone missing in France, or if they will be the standard food and wine pairings we’ve seen for the past several years. My hope is for the former!

Veal Parmesan at a 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Event in Italy

The BOG is BACK!
For those of you who, like me, were concerned that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the giant Ocean Spray-funded cranberry bog in the middle of Epcot this year — put your fears to rest! The bog will be BACK!

CRANBERRY BOG!!

I told Chef Hunnel that Disney needs to introduce “The Bog Experience” and let us put on the rubber overalls and rake for a while, but she just laughed. Here’s hoping I planted a seed…

HGTV Returns
Your favorite HGTV hosts will be back this year with more advice and suggestions for home awesomeness.

Wine Shop Tastings
A new (and needed) option this year will be at the Cellar — the wine shop set up in the Festival Center in Epcot’s Future World. If guests are considering purchasing certain wines, there will be small tastings set up at select times to help them decide which bottles to bag.

The Cellar at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Center

This might also feature an extra time to get a bottle signed, or meet the winemaker.

Questions? Comments?

There’s lots more happening at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, and I may have inadvertently left out of this post some of the news I got on the interview.

SO, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!

In the meantime, head on over to our Epcot Food and Wine Festival Index Pages to see all the latest details!

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47 Comments

  1. Heather says:

    I think I died from excitement reading the Mushroom Filet will be added this year, lol! If they added the pretzel rolls, I don’t think I would move from that booth all week! I’ll be there the first week f&w opens, I can’t wait. :)

  2. Sandy - winnieatepooh says:

    I am SO excited for the vegan booth! I am not a vegan, but I am a vegetarian and am so excited to have a whole booth of noms to choose from! :)

  3. melissa sue says:

    Can’t wait to try the vegan booth! (Maybe with AJ?) Cashew cheese sounds so intriguing.

    Also KEY LIME WINE! My favorite ever!!

  4. brenda says:

    Thanks for the great information, AJ. But Nesquick Smoothies at the Champagne Booth? I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

  5. Kb says:

    Filet?? Oh happy day (tear)!

    What fantastic news to start off my Monday with:)

  6. chelsi says:

    WOW! So exciting – thanks AJ! Can’t wait for the special event dates and prices!

  7. marcellina says:

    Oh this is making me so excited for my trip! I won’t have a lot of time but I’m definitely going to hit the vegan booth (I’m not vegan either but I like to eat that way when I can) and I guess I have to try the mushroom filet since AJ praises it so highly! ;)

    I agree Brenda.. the Nesquick drink sounds horrid. blech.

  8. catherine says:

    I may be the only one (other than the vegetarians/vegans) who is not excited by the mushroom filet, will stick with the chicken sausage, thanks. I do think it is interesting that the Canada booth is by far the most popular one at the festival, but is really only a mini Le Cellier.

    Please Italy, pick up the lunch slack!

  9. Alan says:

    The only dessert I’m not indifferent to are doughnuts. When you add the words “Flambeed cinnamon” to the word “doughnut” I’m there!

  10. Kathy Coppola says:

    My husband and I attended last year. Had a great time, especially the 3D Dessert Party (on my birthday!). One complaint I had was we could not ship wine home. Our state is one that allows shipments of wine to come in, so that wasn’t an issue. We just had no way to do it where we’d be sure it would arrive intact. Can’t take it in our carryons, and didn’t have any kind of protection to put it in our luggage. One suggestion we made to them there was the padded bags that seal, specifically made to ship wine. If we could have purchased those, and been sure our wine would make it home in our luggage, we would have bought at least 6 bottles of wine! Alas, we went home wineless. :( Next time, we know to bring those padded bags. And to be able to taste before purchasing will be fantastic! There’s such a selection, but I was unsure of what I would like without trying them. Problems solved! :)

  11. Katie says:

    We can’t wait to dig into the festival after the Wine & Dine Half Marathon!

  12. Carol says:

    Kathy,
    They used to sell those bags. I assume that they just didn’t sell enough to keep carrying them. I took a few from my local wine big box last year.

    And the Nestle thing just sounds gross. I guess they are trying to have a ‘kid friendly’ option at a booth geared towards adults!

  13. Kate says:

    Thanks for the update. I will be depressed that the lamb sliders are no more-that was the place I always stopped by when at the festival.

  14. Dana says:

    The Nestle thing does sound pretty disgusting. I guess I’ll have to see what it looks like when I’m there. And I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, but the vegan booth sounds pretty amazing. And I’m so excited that the Canadian booth added the filet! I love their sausage and polenta, and this is just an added bonus! I just hope it does come with the risotto…

  15. Summer says:

    Oooohhhh, sooooo excited for the filet. I swear, I plan to make an ADR at Le Cellier it seems for every trip and for one reason or another it never works out and gets the axe….and I’ve always wanted to try the filet so this will be perfect. Here’s hoping a little taste of the risotto is included! The lamb slider was one of our favs…but I guess we should still get the same basic flavors from just a meatball and chutney…hopefully. I’m excited for the vegan booth and hope some of the recipes from it are included in the souvenir cookbook that I always purchase. I’m not vegan, or even vegetarian, but I do enjoy alot of vegetarion foods as a healthier substitute frequently. My BF goes vegetarian for the duration of Lent each year and it would be nice to have a few new meals to make for him during that time. Thanks for the updates…can’t wait for our trip! We’ll be there opening weekend for 5 days!

  16. 4orm says:

    What about the BEER?

  17. Kelly says:

    Lol Brenda. I agree, Nesquick smoothies don’t sound that appetizing.

    My husband is excited about the Vegan booth even though he’s a hard-core meat eater. He loves Gardein. Wegman’s has a sesame “chicken” in their food bar area that is made with Gardein and he misses it since moving to Florida. This is a guy who would eat steak for every meal if he could, so you know it’s good!

    Was there any indication of the prices for Party for the Senses? I’m curious how much more that middle-tier is. We’ll probably just stick to the regular ticket because we didn’t mind standing and grazing, but I’m interested to see what the price difference is!

  18. Kelly says:

    Oh, and I forgot: I’m totally not surprised to see Italy is doing lunches since France is not. I think I called that back when it was announced Bistro de Paris wouldn’t be open during the bulk of Food & Wine!!

  19. Melissa Anna says:

    Very exciting news! I look forward to tasting the Festival Marketplace favorites that will be returning with a twist. I love the Belgium booth’s mussels and Australia’s lamb chop, so I’m definitely interested to compare the new versions to previous years’. I don’t think you can go wrong with lamb and mint pesto, though.

  20. Carolyn says:

    Not excited about the Nesquick, (ew,) but everything else sounds good!

  21. AJ says:

    Heather — I’ll be there at that time, too! Yep; I think the Canada booth line is going to be even LONGER this year…if that’s possible…

    Sandy — I hear ya! I’m really excited to try the dishes there this year!

    Melissa Sue — I was pretty excited about the Key Lime Wine, too! Can’t wait to try all of this awesome stuff…

    Brenda — Ha ha ha!!! I was thinking of you when I wrote about that. I knew you’d be only **slightly** disappointed. ;-)

    Kb — I know! I don’t think there will be mushroom risotto, but I’m still excited! My only concern — will they be done properly…

    Chelsi — Me, too! If you see ‘em posted, lemme know. :-)

    Marci — Ha ha! Vegan Booth + Mushroom Filet! You’re going to balance out nicely. :-)

    Catherine — I’m SO hoping the Italy lunches will be a good substitute. I believe Chef Hunnel mentioned that they’d run from 10-2, so I’m thinking we’re on the right track there.

    Alan — Ha ha! Here’s hoping those are back at the 3D event this year!

    Kathy Coppola — Yes, they really should sell/offer those padded bags! That would be idea. I’m kind of shocked that they don’t actually… I agree; the tasting options (when available) will be a fantastic addition!

    Katie — Ooh, that’s the perfect time! Last year it wasn’t TOO crowded then!

    Carol — Oh, that’s a great point — a kid-friendly drink there. They are indeed doing more kid-friendly options at the booths this year in terms of drinks. You hit the nail on the head.

    Kate — OK, here’s the plan! Stop at the grocery store before you get there and pick up a few dinner rolls. Get the lamb meatball at New Zealand, put it in the roll, and voila! You’ve got a slider! ;-) Maybe…?

    Dana — I’m excited to try all of that! I LOVE the sausage and polenta, and last year they didn’t go lightly on the spice, which was awesome.

    Summer — I’ll see you there!! That’s a great idea to put those vegan dishes into the cookbook.

    4orm — Beer will be present! You saw above that they’re bringing a Florida Lager and Key West Southernmost Wheat from Florida Beer Company to the Florida booth. They also usually have a craft beer booth and a German Biergarten in Germany with flights. You’ll also find some great beers at the Belgium booth! No worries — you’ll be covered!

    Kelly — Wow! Great feedback on the Gardein! I can’t wait to try it now! No indication on the PFTS prices yet. :-( So excited to meet you this year! And, yes, you totally called it on Italy!

    Melissa Anna — Probably not! That sounds interesting, right?

    Carolyn — Ha ha! I’m kind of excited to try the Nesquick…but for some reason the word “froth” isn’t appetizing to me…

  22. Karyn says:

    The Lamb Slider you mentioned as new for New Zealand is exactly what I was served last year. I was very disappointed in it, it tasted horrible in my opinion. If I wanted a “meatball” I would have gone to Italy.

    On a more positive note I can’t wait for the Mushroom Filet at Canada. I’m sure many are going to be upset at the loss of the Salmon but it’s a change for the better as far as I’m concerned. I don’t eat Salmon so they will finally have something besides the soup for me to eat there and I won’t have to hold my nose as I walk by anymore.

  23. Christa says:

    Must stop eating now to prepare for October. LOL

  24. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for all the great info and getting me so excited! When do the dates normally come out for the special events, we really want to try and go to the 3D desserts and a few others but as members of disney vacation club we usually have to book our rooms pretty far in advance?

  25. Shayne says:

    This has totally gotten me excited for our upcoming trip! I’ve been so busy with other stuff that I haven’t had a chance to focus on what we’ll want to do at F&WF, so thanks for snapping me back into planning mode! :D

  26. Melissa says:

    I can’t wait! We will be there running the Wine and Dine half marathon and I can’t wait!!!

  27. Cindi says:

    My husband and I go every year to F&W for our anniversary and we love the fact that they keep it fresh with new items and events! We’ve stopped making a lot of ADRs for dinner because we aren’t hungry enough to eat a full sit down meal. We’d rather graze our way through the World! :)
    Key Lime Wine…can’t wait to taste it!
    AJ, your “books” are always so helpful for our trips to WDW – keep them coming! Thanks for all the up-to-the minute information on F&W. It keeps us excited and helps us update our “Clipboard of Fun” for our trip in October!

  28. Jaia says:

    This all sounds superb! I wish I was able to make it to WDW this fall…hopefully next year!!!

  29. JoAnn says:

    “The Bog Experience” – I’m in!

    I can’t wait for the F&W Festival.

  30. Galloping Gourmand says:

    A food festival should always be mixing it up a little. It’s great to see some of the more tired foods being replaced. In particular:

    Good to see the mussells being changed. The sauce was always adequate, but overall a missed opportunity. It’s my favorite shellfish so I’m looking forward to something new.

    I’m glad that New Zealand ditched the lamb slider, which I found overcooked and dry. I’m looking forward to trying the meatball.

    Boy, do I hope I can make it the last weekend of September!

  31. Amy says:

    Thanks for the great information AJ! Can’t wait to enjoy eating MANY of these items after we run in the Wine and Dine Half Marathon!!

  32. Angela says:

    All of this sounds fantastic!! I can’t believe I’m going to miss it by only 5 days! :(

  33. Sandra says:

    I am sorry but I am so confused. You said France will not have their lunches this year and then in another paragraph you said they were. Are they or aren’t they? I am sooo excited about coming. I have talked about it so much that now a few of my girlfriends are coming also. I hope France still has the luncheons, if not maybe Italy will.

  34. Tom says:

    re. beer with the mussel change hope they swap out the beer at the Belgian booth with something that actually resembles Belgian beer. And hopefully the Unibroue cart is returning to Canada.

  35. Karen says:

    My Husband and I can’t wait for our trip in Oct. Thanks for all the info….. Question— is it true that we can use some of our “snack credits” to purchase food at the booths??? Any other info will really help us plan our eating trip aroung the World!!!

  36. Barry says:

    I’m very disappointed that the French Regional Lunches won’t be on the F&W menu this year, but given the renovations going on at the French pavilion, it’s understandable. I do hope Tutto Italia steps up with a replacement. The Italian White Truffle Lunch we had there last year was the best signature event we’ve attended at F&W. even beating out the signature dinners at the California Grill and Jiko!

  37. Cindi says:

    Karen, we have used snack credits to purchase food at the booths. This year though we decided to forego the DDP and just use our TIW card for the 20% discount on meals we do purchase. We’ve found over the last couple of years we just aren’t that hungry when dinner time rolls around and have more fun just “grazing” around the World! Also, we did a few of the events at the Festival Center (Mixology, chef demos) and those fill you up, too. We are going the second week of October and can’t wait!

  38. Karen says:

    @ Cindi— Thanks for the reply…. We are Seniors leaving the kids and grandkids home, so this trip we will be able to enjoy the F&W experience without little ones… the DDP is great for us as my Husband likes his favorite restaurants at different resorts and parks, but we will be “grazing” our way around Epcot!!! Have fun, we can’t wait!!!

  39. Joe Huber says:

    SO excited for the vegan booth this year! Last year all I could really eat was the Bunny Chow in South Africa-but that was still amazing! I’m hoping that the vegan booth will be open on the night of the 1/2 marathon since I’ll be running that and will need some Gardein protein infusion after!

  40. Diane says:

    We are beer drinkers (as opposed to wine) and really miss the Sam Adams tasting/educational seminars. There have been other beer-tasting seminars over the years too that have disappeared (Rose & Crown garden). This has been replaced with a craft beer kiosk where we can buy flights of beer…. the first year was good, many selections but last year was a disappointment as the selection was smaller and a couple beers were “out” when we went for our flights. Hoping that this year will be better. We purchased the official FWF Cook Book and now I can make Canadian Cheddar Cheese soup anytime!!! YUM!

  41. Sarah d says:

    We have never done this event before. I am wondering if we are already I’m the park do we have to buy tickets to this? Is the food out for everyone to buy? And do you have to reserve spots to meet the chefs?

  42. AJ says:

    Sarah d. — there are several events for which you buy additional tickets. The booths, however, are open to everyone in Epcot to purchase from.

    Check out some great detail at disneyfoodblog.com/2012-Epcot-food-and-wine-festival :-)

  43. Marlene says:

    So excited about the Canada’s Cheddar Cheese soup returning! Yummy! Heard the salmon may not return – is that true?

  44. Wendy says:

    Can you use credits from your dining plan for the tapas served at the Food and Wine Festival?

  45. AJ says:

    Wendy — In the past you have been able to, and I don’t see why they’d stop that practice now. :-) You can only use snack credits however, no counter-service credits.

  46. a p says:

    Will any of the booths have fresh juice? As if we were going to a whole food type store or using a juicer at home? – no sugars, no dairy added.

    thanks for any information!

  47. Vivian and juan says:

    We have been going for years to Disney’s Theme Parks ! and also to
    the Food and Wine Festivals and we haved try every year all the differents food booths! There great!!! but one of oue favorite it’s CANADA! even if we melt we can’t leave with out the best soup ! Canada’s Cheddar Cheese Soap Yummy !!!!!
    Also the mouse cheese , california rolls and the pork of last year was sooooo good, the spinash empanadas and the greek salad oh boy!
    Every thing it so deliciuos,and walking around ” EPCOT ”
    All we can say It’s THANKS !!!
    Disney your are the best place to visit all year around.

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