Chef Interview: New Kids’ Menus Debut in Downtown Disney Orlando

Can healthy kids’ menus also be fun and interesting?

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Richard, executive chef of Downtown Disney’s Portobello Trattoria in Walt Disney World. Portobello and its sister restaurants, Fulton’s Crab House and Wolfgang Puck Cafe, have debuted some brand new children’s menus that aim for healthy as well as fun.

Since healthier — and more grown-up — kids’ eats is a growing trend among Disney-area restaurants (for example, check out the kids’ menu at the new Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom), I was interested to hear all the new menus and the impetus behind them.

Portobello Trattoria

Portobello continues to offer freshly-prepared rustic Italian fare, with an emphasis on slow cooking and local ingredients. And the family-friendly atmosphere provides a cozy-yet-refined alternative where families with children can relax.

Portobello

Though I’ve seen some negative reviews for Portobello, my experiences here have pretty positive. And the new kids’ menu focuses on freshness and whole foods, without sacrificing kid pleasers, like pizza.

It seems that choice really was the driving motivation for the recent updates to the menus at all three restaurants. “We wanted to offer choices,” said Chef Steve. “People are on vacation and they might be inclined to be indulgent. With all the menus, we feel it’s important to offer healthy choices as well.”

Portobello Dining Room Seating

The choices emphasize a balance between indulgence and smarter eating. “We think the best approach is to offer healthy meals for kids as well as something that mimics the adult dining experience,” he explained.

“We are trying to offer things that are indulgent, like the option to have an ice cream sundae made with locally-made gelato at Portobello. But then we also have grilled meats and fresh fruits, as opposed to things we normally see on children’s menus.”

Chef Steve and his team have also included fresher choices for beverages, like 100% juice options and low-fat milk.

Portobello Kids' Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Fulton’s Crab House

Fulton’s Crab House has retained many of their classic dishes, while offering a new flair featuring sustainably and responsibly harvested [Read more…]

What’s *New For 2011* at the WDW Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic

Just one more week until the Second Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, which will take place Friday, October 7, and Saturday, October 8, 2011. Check out loads of new menu photos and information here!

We’ve interviewed one of the head honchos (and Riesling Rendevous seminar teacher!) to give you a sneak peek into this year’s event — which has tripled in size!

Event Details From Luciano Sperduto, Assistant Director of Food & Beverage

As Assistant Director of Food & Beverage for the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, Luciano is part of the leadership team responsible for planning and overseeing the execution of the Food & Wine Classic.

More Food and Beverage Booths Will Appear This Year

This year, look for 26 beverage booths and more than 11 food booths, including a new addition from the Garden Grove!

garden grove jumbo lump crab cake slider

The pastry booth alone will have eight to ten items to nosh on!

Cocktail 101 Seminars Introduced

When guests requested more spirits, Cocktail 101 seminars were devised.

In these 15-minute seminars, you’ll learn how [Read more…]

Sneak Peek: 2011 Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic Seminar Details

The Second Annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic will take place Friday, October 7, and Saturday, October 8, 2011. And, like last year, you can sign up for one of six beverage seminars being held both evenings of the Classic!

Choose from Wine Blending; Modern Mixology; Riesling Rendezvous; Base to Bubbles; Beer, Please!; All Things Sake; and new for 2011, Spanish Wines! The hour-long seminars will be held at 4:30pm on both nights of the Classic. Learn more about the seminars and order your tickets online here. Tickets are $35 plus tax/fee.

This year, many of the seminars have changed hands and will be a bit different from what guests experienced last year. Once again, we wanted to give a sneak peek into what you can expect; so we’ve interviewed three seminar leaders to get you the inside information about this year’s Beer, Mixology, and Spanish Wines seminars!

Beer, Please!, DJ Robertson, Assistant Manager at Todd English’s bluezoo

Returning this year after a successful debut last year, the Beer, Please! seminar will be slightly different this time around.

Widmer Pitch Black IPA

Wisconsin native Robertson plans to feature beers that are unique — some you wouldn’t necessarily find at your grocery store craft beer section.

Guests will have the opportunity to sample seven different beers, including:

  • Orange Blossom Ale from Nevada and brewed with water that is infused with orange blossoms
  • Effinheimer Red Ale, a local brew from a Minneola, FL, brewery that has only been in existence for a year and a half
  • Widmer Black IPA, a new style of beer with a “dark side” due to hints of coffee flavor, roasted barley, and a high amount of hops

Food Pairings at the Beer, Please! seminar include: Rogue’s Morimoto Soba Ale with their beer-soaked cheddar cheese — and look for Rogue chocolate stout cake and Beer bread, too!

One fun takeaway from the Beer, Please! seminar will be [Read more…]

Interview: Marianne Hunnel, Epcot Food & Wine Festival Content Development

Chef Marianne Hunnel

As you know, I was given the opportunity to speak yesterday evening with Marianne Hunnel, Area Manager, Event Content Development for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. She has a job that seems to be in equal parts exhilarating and difficult — and she loves it!

Without further ado, let’s jump into what I learned about the Epcot Food and Wine Festival and its true headliner, Marianne Hunnel! At the end of this post, we have a few pieces of news about what you’ll find that’s new at the 2011 Festival!

How A Festival Comes Together

With five years of directing content development for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival (six festivals altogether), Marianne Hunnel is an expert at shepherding her small, mighty team when it comes to building something bigger and better every single year. Of course, her 15 years working as a Chef on Disney World Property doesn’t hurt in terms of knowing what Disney guests are looking for when it comes to a dining experience!

Planning and development for these 45 festival days takes all year, and includes a lot of research. The first place they turn? Last year’s Food and Wine Festival guests! “[We] take a look at feedback from guests — what people liked, what was not doing very well. We really listen to the guests.”

After taking stock of what you, me, and the rest of the guests preferred last year, the team begins scouting the global trends taking over the food space and begin putting together menu items and tastings. To get unique and authentic input, Hunnel and the team speak with cast members — especially those hailing from countries represented in the World Showcase Marketplace Booths — to collect ideas, reviews, and even family recipes!

According to Hunnel, the festival should always be “interesting, exciting, and educational.”

Trends and Concepts Affecting the Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Healthy Dining
An ongoing focus of the festival is healthy dining. “[We are] trying to incorporate fresh and healthy foods that are indigenous to the regions represented around the marketplace. …And we do it in subtle ways. Guests can say, ‘Wow, you can eat healthy and enjoy going to a festival without feeling really guilty,'” says Hunnel.

In fact, a new event focusing on families and healthy dining will take place on October 29th, featuring Andrew Zimmern and two other celebrity chefs, Bryan Voltaggio and Chris Cosentino. The event will “show the Chefs as Dads. They’re going to have their kids with them, who will be showing techniques that the family can [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: June 12, 2011

Jiko Tasting Wines

Hi everyone! As summer vacations start revving up, we’re looking forward to sharing lots of news with you in the coming weeks as the dates for the Disney Food Blog’s WDW Foodie Fest and The 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival grow nearer.

Summer travelers, don’t forget to keep hydrated while touring the parks and seek out air-conditioning dining locations for rest breaks, snacks and meals!

Latest Disney Food News

New Disney Food Blog Guide to Walt Disney World Dining Review

Thanks to Jenn at Chip and Co for reviewing the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining e-Book!

There are tips for saving money, where to find last minute reservations, and how to celebrate special occasions. In other words, this book has everything and even helps the most experienced Walt Disney World traveler figure out how to plan a trip around meals, or at least enjoy their eating experience while at the parks!

You can read her full review here.

Get your copy of the book here!

Now, On to the Round-Up!

A Wedding Cake Blog inspires our inner princesses with a Cinderella engagement cake — Kardashian style.

Eating (and Drinking) Around WDW is anticipating the 2011 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic! Check out what he’s signed up for here.

Main Street Gazette takes us to dinner at Tutto Italia.

DAPS Magic celebrated his birthday in Disneyland with a fantastic Muppets cake!

Everything Walt Disney World explains how to work those snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan!

Fruitnet reports that Chiquita Brands International has signed an exclusive deal with the Walt Disney Co. to bring their products into the parks, resorts, and cruise line.

Dining in Disneyland: Carnation Cafe & And Interview With Chef Oscar

Dining in Disneyland columnist Heather Sievers brings us to a classic Main Street USA restaurant today!

Located on Main Street in Disneyland, the Carnation Café is a great little spot for a relaxing lunch. This table service restaurant features outdoor seating and a very simple, yet delicious menu.

Atmosphere…And a Visit With Chef Oscar
The décor of red and white umbrellas that shade the adorable chairs and tables reminds me of an old “soda fountain” type of place.  Casual and cute is how I’d describe it. I’ve dined at Carnation Café on several occasions, coming back again and again for their amazing Loaded Baked Potato Soup.

Today’s meal was to be a quick lunch, so we called Disney Dining ahead of time and made a reservation. This means we were able to bypass the long line, give our name, and have a seat. The perfect way to [Read more…]

Guest Interview: Spice & Tea Exchange

Feel free to grab a cup of tea! Then sit back and join me as our Guest Reviewer, Bill Iadonisi, takes us on a tour of The Spice & Tea Exchange at Downtown Disney. Take it away, Bill!

Walt Disney World is always in a state of flux. You never know when a cutting-edge attraction, show or store will make its appearance. That‘s what makes the World such a magical place; guests are continually experiencing unique and exciting things. Case in point…a tasty new shop called The Spice and Tea Exchange, which opened in Mickey’s Pantry on November 9th, 2010, in the Market Place in Downtown Disney.

The Big View

This new store is a wonderful addition to Disney’s culinary arsenal, and is conveniently sandwiched between The Earl of Sandwich and Wolfgang Puck Express. Every product found here is natural and no preservatives or chemicals are ever used, ensuring top flavor and [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: October 10, 2010

Karamell Kuche Caramel Corn

Whew! After a week of celebrating the WDW Foodie Fest‘s great memories, we’re back with the Round-Up and going strong!

Our biggest news these days is from the Epcot Food and Wine Festival:

Now, on to the round-up!

Babes in Disneyland‘s Lisa brings us a great video interview with a look at Disneyland Halloween Treats! Check out the blog for a recipe for those gingerbread Mickey Beignets!

Passport To Dreams Old and New has an incredible overview of how the “Phantom Food Scare of 1971,” and other concerns regarding feeding the masses, has affected changes in Disney Park design.

Eating (and Drinking) Around WDW heads over to Epcot’s newest counter-service spot, Cantina de San Angel.

Main Street Gazette asks can a meal be good based solely on the restaurant atmosphere, using Animal Kingdom’s Restaurantosaurus as the example. (Personally, I’m a big fan of the chicken nuggets there, but, what can I say?)

Studios Central lists and discusses his top 5 favorite entrees in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Frugal Dinks share their review of the Saki Seminar at the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic.

Touring Plans heads to Whispering Canyon Cafe.

AllEars reviews the Grand Marnier “Taste, Shake, and Indulge Like the French” deminar at the Food and Wine Festival in Epcot.

The Givens Chronicles is giving away a 2010 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Cookbook! Be sure to enter to win — it’s a great compilation of old and new recipes this year.

Cooking With Mickey reviews Akershus in Epcot’s Norway!

Disney Dispatch reviews the menu at the United States Booth at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

Vegan Dining in Disney World

Update: Disney is no longer offering Divvies. They are currently offering bakery items from the Enjoy Life and OMG Manufacturers along with Rocky Mountain Popcorn, and Surf Sweets Jelly Beans throughout the Parks and Resorts.

Those who are vegan or who are visiting Disney World with a vegan family member or guest often have a bit of stress about how they’re going to find vegan-friendly foods in a theme park! Luckily, Disney is known far and wide for their ability in working with special diets. Click here for a few resources we’ve put together for those dining with special diets in Disney.

Recently, I interviewed Anna G., who writes the wonderful Cookie Madness blog, who headed to Disney World earlier this year with a vegan guest…who happened to be 9 years old!

Plan Ahead
Usually, the first step in dining with a special diet in Disney World is to contact Disney dining before your trip to give them a heads’ up. When Anna contacted the special diets line (407-824-5967), she was sent this email along with several attachments: [Read more…]

Champagne and Sake Seminar Details: Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic

Furthering my crusade to learn more about the first annual Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic, I got the wonderful opportunity to speak with two of the event’s seminar leaders last week: Chad Lobner, Kimonos Sushi Restaurant Manager and leader of the Sake Seminars; and Olivier Zambaux, Shula’s Steak House Manager/Certified Wine Sommelier and leader of the Champagne Seminars.

Here’re some of the pretty rad details that you get to experience if you’re signed up for either of these two seminars. (And if you’re not, check out this link for more information on how you can experience the first annual Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic!)

Sake Seminar

When: Friday and Saturday, October 8th and 9th, 4:30-5:30pm
To Book: Some seminars are full, but it never hurts to call — 407-934-1609. As of this interview, there was still space in Friday’s seminar.

Description: Dive into the history of sake, the current trends in the industry, and a hint at what we can expect tomorrow. Topics include vessels, labeling, when to warm your sake and how the production and milling of sake produces different grades and taste profiles. This class will be filled with opportunities to taste many different types of sake and demonstrate how simple it is to pair with food. Kanpai! Instructor: Chad Lobner, Kimonos Sushi Restaurant Manager

What can guests expect from the sake seminar that might surprise them?
Guests will walk through the experience of Japanese sake, and the seminar will dispel some myths about sake. For example, hot sake, which is what many of us have the most experience with, is usually not the highest quality sake you [Read more…]