DFB reporter James Armstrong recently attended Sweet Sundays with celebrity chef Carla Hall (co-host of The Chew and Top Chef Alum) during the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! Let’s check out his review!
The two hour event was divided up into two parts: the first hour consisted of the Sunday Brunch and the second was the celebrity chef demonstration. Upon arrival at 9:30am, we lined up for our table assignments. Doors opened promptly at 10am.
Each assigned table sat approximately six guests with seats on a first come first serve basis. The tables were set with pre-made yogurt parfaits and orange juice.
Once most of the guests had arrived, waiters began escorting each table to the buffet in an orderly “one table at a time” fashion.
Sweet Sundays Brunch
The brunch portion of the event started with some standard buffet items — croissants and strawberry cheese danish. They were good but there was nothing exceptional about them. The croissant was flaky and buttery.
There was also fresh raspberries and blueberries [provided by Driscoll’s one of the Festival sponsors]. They were very sweet and at the height of their ripeness.
A favorite part of the buffet was the Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Leeks and Onions. Even though these were not complicated or rich, they were nicely seasoned with a wonderful flavor combination. The leeks provided a buttery sweetness that melted in your mouth with the fluffy red potatoes to compliment them.
The buffet also included two egg dishes. The first one was a KerryGold Cheddar Cheese Quiche with Puff Pastry and Garden Peas. This dish had a custard texture accompanied by the sharpness of browned cheddar.
The other egg dish was the “DVC Grand Villa-Inspired” Egg White, Onion, Mushroom, Asparagus, Tomato, and Basil Frittata. Due to the egg whites, the egg portion of the dish was fluffy and offset the veggies nicely. This frittata was veggie packed, although the asparagus was the main flavor component. It was a nice combination and worked very well together.
Next came the Turkey Sausage Patties with Ocean Spray Craisins. These were a nice balance of typical sausage spices (sage, pepper, and salty goodness) combined with the sweet and tartness of the Craisins, which were mixed right into the meat.
Also incorporating Craisins was the Werther’s Caramel Glazed Plantains with Rum infused Craisins. I did not try this one as I dislike plantains (sorry; it’s a texture thing) but the guy next to us said they were mushy and he didn’t care for the dish.
Rounding off the buffet was some French Toast made with brioche bread, and Hardwood Bacon.
Celebrity Chef Carla Hall Cooking Demonstration
After we finished eating, Carla came out and started her demonstration.
She began by making her Signature Mac & Cheese Bundles served in a mini crock.
These were AMAZING!!! An onion, cream cheese, and shredded cheddar mixture is put inside wonton wrappers.
It was like a normal steamed dumpling, except it had a cheese mixture in a butter and fresh herb sauce with bread crumbs to finish it off.
The second dish demonstrated by Carla was Chocolate Pudding Tarts with Salted Peanut Shortbread Crust.
This tart was a combination of rich chocolate pudding in a crust that consists of mainly ground roasted peanuts, topped with a chocolate ganache. The saltiness of the crust mixed with the two different chocolates produced a rich, decadent dessert.
Carla also showed a demo on how she makes her petite cookies.
She said these were originally an inside joke from her catering days. The guests would always break the cookies into smaller pieces because they did not want to eat a whole cookie at the end of the night so there would be a tray full of pieces of cookie.
Noting this pattern, she set out to make a cookie that could not be broken in half! Thus her petite cookies were born.
These were a one inch by one inch square cookie that was a small, sweet bite. It’s perfect to finish off a meal when you don’t want to eat a whole dessert.
She also handed out Harissa Spiced Mixed nuts and other cookies, which she sells on her website, alchemybycarlahall.com.
We finished the morning with a Grilled Pound Cake with Fruit Compote.
Carla was unable to demonstrate this one but walked us through the preparation. This was a tad dry for my taste, but Carla mentioned you have to use a slightly stale piece of pound cake so it does not stick to the grill. When you combined it with the compote it soaked up all the juices and provided a nice sweet dessert.
Overall it was a fun time. Carla is a very funny and wacky personality.
Plus, most of the food was delicious!
This event costs $99 per person and is offered every Sunday throughout the festival. Guests will be treated to demonstrations from different chefs each week, so you’ll want to check out the list of chefs visiting during your trip. Call 407-WDW-FEST to book.
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Have you attended a Sweet Sunday or other special event at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival? Share your comments below!