2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: Rockin’ Burger Block Party

Today, we are heading back to the 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival for a look at a brand new Special Event!

Epcot Food and Wine Rockin Burger Block Party Graphic 15

One of the new events introduced this year is the Rockin’ Burger Block Party, and DFB has been at two of the parties.

Join us today as we share our experience, which includes visits with a few celebrity guests and an incredible variety of burgers.

And if you like what you see, there are still tickets left for the November 6th Party, which features Cake Boss Buddy Valastro! Just call (407) 939-3378 to make your reservations.

Atmosphere

The Rockin’ Burger Block Party sounds like it might take place outside…but no.

The event is held in World ShowPlace, the events pavilion that’s tucked away behind giant doors in World Showcase. If you haven’t been there before, you’ll find the entrance between the Canada and UK Pavilions.

Just look for the Events Cast Members, and they’ll point the way!

Entrance

Entrance

Check-in for the event is located inside the main entrance. The party actually takes place in the large room that’s beyond.

Photo Op Area

Entrance Area — Inside

In the entrance room, there’s also a Disney PhotoPass “photo op” area set up. Guests can have their pics taken as a souvenir of the evening.

Photo Op Area

Photo Op Area

Photo Op Area

PhotoPass Photographers Capturing the Memories

This group asked our photographer why he was taking so many pics. When he told them he was with DFB, they wanted to pose for a pic! We love our DFB Readers!

Photo Op Area

A Group of Friends Having Their Photo Taken. By Us!

Once you make it in, you begin to see the layout a little better. Like several other World ShowPlace Food and Wine Events, seating is broken into three different tiers. We’ll share more detail about it in just a minute.

Seating

Seating

Food and drink stations are scattered about the room, so you’re never far from refreshment, regardless of where you are.

Atmosphere

Atmosphere

There are some tables available for general seating; these tend to be on the outskirts of the room, and you’re likely to share real estate with strangers. Or “new friends,” if you’d like to be optimistic about it. :-)

Seating

Reserved Seating Area

About halfway through the oblong room and to the right, you’ll find both the stage area and the Nosh Pit, or premium seating. Featured celebrity guests for each of the three events interact with a Disney emcee here, and this is also where you’ll find the DJ spinning tunes.

Atmosphere

Stage Area

Nosh Pit tables are a little dressier with transparent tops and glowing middles.

Seating in the Nosh Pit

Nosh Pit Seating — Up Close

Behind this area, second-tier reserved seating tables located centrally make a handy home base from which to explore all the eats and action.

Seating -- Up Close

Reserved Seating — Up Close

Each of the the three Rockin’ Burger Block Parties also include appearances by Celebrity Guests. Let’s take a closer look at the talent from the first two.

Celebrity Guests

We had a the chance to attend the very first Burger Block Party, which took place on the first night of the Festival. Chef Andrew Zimmern appeared at the first event, and shared stories about some of his favorite Disney foods with the audience.

Chef Andrew Zimmern at the First Rockin' Burger Block Party

Chef Andrew Zimmern at the First Rockin’ Burger Block Party

During the second Burger Block Party, the cast of the ABC show The Chew, who were in town to tape episodes of their show in Epcot, appeared on stage.

The Cast of The Chew

The Cast of The Chew

The Cast of The Chew

The Cast of The Chew — Up Close

Carla Hall appeared at the Food and Wine Festival two years ago, and has made it clear that she thinks the show should come down every year for the Fall time event. Who can blame her?

The Chew's Carla Hall and Michael Symon

The Chew’s Carla Hall and Michael Symon

While the cast interacted with the Disney emcee and chatted a bit about different subjects, they also taped a few segments for their show. Did you catch them?

The Cast of The Chew

The Cast of The Chew

The Cast from The Chew

The Cast from The Chew

It was pretty clear that they were having a terrific time, although it is worth it to note that neither Chef Zimmern nor the The Chew cast walked the floor or interacted with guests beyond what took place on the stage.

And of course, they also took the opportunity to encourage guests to vote for The Chew Burger. More about that to come…

Eats

But now the part that you’ve been waiting for — the FOOD!

The Rockin’ Burger Block Party is all about trying a ton of different burgers — and they span all sorts of burger genres. As a fun twist, guests are asked to sample the burgers throughout the event, and then vote by placing the guitar pick that’s glued to their program into the bowl located at their favorite burger station.

Menu Cover

Menu Cover with “Voting” Guitar Pick

The Cast Members we encountered really got into it, too! They were telling us how we should pick “their” burger.

The Burgers!

Each burger is a mini-masterpiece with complex combos of meats (or alternatives), garnishes, and even different types of buns. They’re also all served with special sides to complement the flavors.

Atmosphere

Burger Station

Culinary Cast Members were busy preparing the slider-sized burgers fresh “to order” for guests in line.

Putting the Burgers Together

Putting the Burgers Together

One note of interest: the burgers were the same at the first and second events. I think it’s safe to assume the same line up will return for the final Burger Block Party on November 6.

Lines for Burgers

Lines for Burgers

Ready for the tour? Let’s get started! Chef Carlos’ Smooth Burger was a crowd favorite. This one features Ground Turkey and Grape Jelly Burger topped with Cheddar Cheese, Bacon, and Peanut Butter Sauce. It’s served with a side of Housemade Plantain Chips.

Smooth Burger Description

Chef Carlos’ Smooth Burger Description

Smooth Burger

Chef Carlos’ Smooth Burger

Chef Tony offered our first Fish Burger. The Grouper Patty is dressed simply with Butter Lettuce, Tomato, and Lime Aioli. It comes with Sea Salt and Vinegar Chips.

Grouper Burger Description

Chef Tony’s Grouper Burger Description

Burger -- Name

Chef Tony’s Grouper Burger with Sea Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips

Burger -- Name

Chef Tony’s Grouper Burger — Up Close

Chef Marianne’s Sicilian Burger also features fish. The Branzino (Seabass) Patty serves as a base for a ton of flavor — Pecorino Cheese, Dried Prosciutto, and an Onion Jam made with Blood Orange and Raisins top this one. Caponata Pasta Salad is served on the side.

Sicilian Burger Description

Chef Marianne’s Sicilian Burger Description

Sicilian Burger

Chef Marianne’s Sicilian Burger with Caponata Pasta Salad

Chef Marianne's Sicilian Burger -- Up Close

Chef Marianne’s Sicilian Burger — Up Close

The cast of The Chew gets in on the fun too, and offering The Chew Burger: an All-Beef Sirloin, Shortrib, and Brisket Patty that’s topped with Cheddar, Caramelized Onion Mustard, and Sweet-Hot Pickles. They serve their creation with slices of Green Apple.

The Chew Burger Description

The Chew Burger Description

The Chew Burger

The Chew Burger

Chef Jarrod’s Backwoods Burger combines a Cervena Patty (farm-raised Venison) with toppings of Black Diamond Cheddar, Fried Onions, and Juniper Port Wine Ketchup. Maple Sugar Sweet Potato Chips complete the plate.

Backwoods Burger

Chef Jarrod’s Backwoods Burger with Maple Sugar Sweet Potato Chips

Backwoods Burger

Chef Jarrod’s Backwoods Burger — Up Close

Chef Reynold’s Chicago Burger includes a Grass-Fed Beef Patty, a Slice of All-Beef Hot Dog, Relish, and Havarti Cheese Sauce. Bacon Potato Salad complements the sandwich.

Chicago Burger Description

Chef Reynold’s Chicago Burger Description

Chicago Burger

Chef Reynold’s Chicago Burger with Bacon Potato Salad

Chef Keith offers another twist on the theme with his Cali Veggie Cheese Burger. The Morningstar Farms Black Bean Burger is topped with Vegan Cheese, Marinated Avocado, and Sirachi Heirloom Tomato Ketchup. It’s served with Oven Dried Kale Chips.

Cali Veggie Burger Display

Cali Vegie Burger Description

Cali Veggie Burger

Cali Vegie Cheese Burger with Oven Dried Kale Chips

The Chef Hanson Oklahoma Burger — named for its pairing instead of a chef, I think — featured a Grass-Fed Beef Burger topped with BBQ Pork, Cheddar Cheese, and Onion Fries. The side here is Pickled Cauliflower.

Oklahoma Burger Description

Chef Hanson Oklahoma Burger Description

Burger -- Name

Chef Hanson Oklahoma Burger with Spicy Pickled Cauliflower

And the pairing? Hanson Brothers (yep, those Hanson Brothers) Beer Company’s Mmmmhops Pale Ale.

Mmmhops Beer

Mmmhops Beer

Finally, we get to the last burger that we tried — Chef Dale’s Asian Cheese Burger. The Burger here is a combination of Chicken and Duck, which is topped with Butterkase Cheese, Bulgogi Braised Pork Belly, and Sweet Thai Chili Sauce. It’s served with a side of Kimchi Slaw.

Burger -- Name

Chef Dale’s Asian Burger with Kimchi Slaw

Asian Cheeseburger

Chef Dale’s Asian Cheeseburger — Up Close

This one — Chef Mikko’s Bourbon Burger, featuring a BBQ burger with cheddar cheese, fried onions, chipotle aioli, and a parker house bun — was my favorite of the evening!

Burger Description

Chef Mikko’s Bourbon Burger Description

Chef Mikko's Burge

Chef Mikko’s Burge

And, if you can believe it — there were even more burgers that we didn’t make it to! We’ve heard some great things about Chef Judi’s Truck Stop Burger with its Fried Egg, Bacon Grease Fries, and Nacho Cheese Sauce. Chef Melissa’s Thai Shellfish Burger which features a Shrimp and Scallop Burger topped with Spicy Thai Slaw and Cilantro Lime Mayo also has its fans.

Chef Nanor’s Middle-Eastern Burger and Chef Eggie’s Mallorcan Burger round out the menu.

And The Winning Burger Is…

As I mentioned earlier, guests are encouraged to vote for their favorite burger throughout the night, and later in the evening, the “Burger Champion” is announced.

Chefs on Stage

Chefs on Stage

During this event, however, the “Burger Trophy” went missing. (Do you think the Hamburgler was responsible?) And so, the trophy presentation actually took place off stage.

Presenting the Winning Burger Trophy to Chef Dale and Staff

Presenting the Winning Burger Trophy to Chef Dale and Staff

The winner was Chef Dale’s Asian Cheese Burger!

Burger Victory

Burger Victory

Beverages

One thing to note about an event like this: the stations are situated throughout the room, and while they’re labeled, it’s easy to miss things just because there’s so much to choose from. I recommend reviewing your program book to see all of your choices before you get started drinking and tasting.

And speaking of drinking — there’s plenty of that to do as well. Drink stations offering Wine, Beer, and Cocktails made with premium liquors were on offer throughout the room. There were also non-alcoholic beverages as well as hot coffee and tea available.

Atmosphere

Drink Station

Information about each beer, wine, and liquor is available at the stations. That way, if you discover a new favorite, you can learn more about it.

Wines include Florida Orange Groves Winery, Dreaming Tree Wines, and two selections from Germany — Hex vom Dasenstein Pinot Noir and Sweet Hex vom Dasenstein Pinot Noir – among others.

Drinks

Wine Station — Up Close

For those of you who feel that nothing goes better with your burger than a beer, there are plenty of options to choose from. We spied Landshark Lager, Mmmhhops Pale Ale, and a variety of Sam Adams options.

Landshark

Landshark Lager

Liquors are featured in both shots and mixed into drinks.

Drinks

Drinks

Cocktails included Moscow Mules, Margaritas, Cosmopolitans, and Mai Tais, along with many others that highlighted the specific cocktail flavors.

Voli Vodka

Voli Vodka

Finger Foods

In addition to the featured burgers, guests can also sample a few Appetizers.

Finger Foods Station

Finger Foods Station Description

Cheeseburger Spring Rolls, served with Curry Dipping Sauce, are always a popular choice.

Cheeseburger Spring Rolls

Cheeseburger Spring Rolls with Curry Dipping Sauce

Spicy Sticky Pig Wings sound oddly interesting. :-)

Spicy Sticky Pig Wings

There were also two vegetarian options on the appetizer list — Vegetable Potstickers served with a Ponzu Sauce, and Lentil Samosas with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce.

Vegetable Potstickers

Vegetable Potstickers with Ponzu Sauce

Lentil Samosas

Lentil Samosas with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Desserts

Finally, we arrive at the Dessert Table. All of the sweet endings were self-serve. There were three options.

The Cinnamon Roll Fireball Bread Pudding was topped with a Cream Cheese Glaze.

Apple Crisp

Cinnamon Roll Fireball Bread Pudding with Cream Cheese Glaze

An Apple Crisp got an added element of interest from a Snicker Doodle Crust. This one begged for ice cream!

Snickerdoodle Apple Crisp

Snicker Doodle Crusted Apple Crisp

And finally, the Valrhona Chocolate Ganache Brownies may seem a little ho-hum, but they were one of the favorites at our table.

Valrhona Brownies

Valrhona Chocolate Ganache Brownies

Overall

The Rockin’ Burger Block Party is an interesting event, and is a bit hard to describe. On the one hand, you have something very common and totally approachable: burgers. But these aren’t just any burgers. They come in all kinds of varieties, from veggie burgers to lamb or fish, from grass-fed beef to venison and duck. When you really look at all the variety here, it’s pretty astounding.

The “Rockin'” part of the event was somewhat interesting. It was pretty cool to hear favorite songs from decades past. But we never felt like breaking out in dancing. And isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?

And finally, a note about the celebrities who attend. While it’s fun to see them chatting with the emcee and giving a little of their backstory, they don’t really interact with the guests in any way. At least not at the first two events. Don’t attend expecting to come away with an autograph or personal experience. Still, it’s fun to see them close up in this venue.

The Rockin’ Burger Block Party is certainly a fun, more casual event for those who prefer an all-you-care-to-enjoy experience. If you’re interested in taking in the event, be sure to call (407) 939-3378 and book your tickets for the last party, which will feature Cake Boss Buddy Valastro on November 6.

What do you think of the Rockin’ Burger Block Party? Leave a comment and tell us if you’ve had the chance to attend one of these events!

Comments

  1. Tim says

    AJ, what was the cost of this event? Did I miss it? And was everything included? Looks like I would not eat for days after this!

  2. says

    Tim — The cost is “tiered” for this event: Nosh Pit Seating is $199 per person; Reserved Seating is $119 per person; and General Admission is $99 per person. For more details, visit our Special Events Page. It is a TON of food and drink, to be sure!

  3. says

    Jenn — AJ really loved the Chef Mikko’s Burger, with its combo of cheddar cheese, fried onions, and chipotle aioli. I favored Chef Dale’s Asian Cheeseburger because…Pork Belly! The Oklahoma Burger was also fantastic. These were probably the top choices for us for the night, but the sheer amount of food and drink, as well as the originality and quality of food, was astounding. And we didn’t have a bad burger all night. I think it just comes down to whether you prefer beef, veggie, or something out of the box. One trend we did see — ditching the top buns. Too much bread was a common concern. Hope this helps! :-)

  4. Christine says

    I also attended the party on the 8th. I thought it was fun but not sure I’d do it again. Soooo much food and as someone mentioned had to shortly go “bunless” if we wanted to continue to sample. I was with some pickier eaters and was surprised there wasn’t a “classic burger” anywhere. And the fries? Where were the fries? But overall the food was good. We tried some really yummy burgers and the adult beverages were flowing freely.

    While a big burger fan, I bought the tickets solely because The Chew cast were billed as hosting. To me, “hosting” means something different than “introducing” or “kicking off.” In that regard, I was very disappointed.

  5. Barb says

    I was at the 10/8 event and really liked it, but as Christine mentioned was disappointed the ‘hosts’ were whisked away very quickly after the party started. To me hosts should mingle and not introduce the event and then disappear. Overall, the even was nice but I wouldn’t do nosh pit again if it meant having to deal with ABC employees’ small children running around and crawling on the floor – there should be a minimum age to be in the nosh pit and those under 6 weren’t appreciated in the manner they were acting.
    My favorite burger was the Chef Carlos’s Smooth Burger. The Branzino burger was also tops in my book.
    The desserts were a bit underwhelming, but we were there more for the burgers than the sweets.
    Drinks were top notch for the offerings.

  6. says

    We attended last night (Nov 6) and had a great time. We felt it was an excellent value for the price ($99) for the amount of food and alcoholic beverages offered, especially for ‘Disney prices.’ Chef Dale’s asian burger took the trophy again, but our personal favorite was the Truck Stop burger with the fried egg, cheese sauce and fries. YUM! We also liked the iced tea/lemonade and tequila cocktail. This was a fun event!

  7. TINA says

    We went the last day November 6th, 2015 with Buddy Valastro. We sat in the “Nosh Pit” Pit Area, and were lucky enough to get a table for two RIGHT IN FRONT of the stage! This event was awesome. The price was more than worth it. Great food, alcohol and entertainment all included! Plus the Cast Members were top notch. Such a nice evening out to relax and have a blast! The whole voting aspect of it made it a fun little game as well. I highly recommend this event for anyone, and REALLY HOPING they bring it back for next year! We’d totally be back!

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