Guest Review: Kitchen Memories Event at the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Today’s the day that all guests can book the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival special events! And to give a little taste of one of these fun options, we welcome back guest author Shayne Newell with a review of the Kitchen Memories seminar from the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! This is a great treat for those of us deciding what events to book at the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

As I prepared for my first trip to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of available culinary and beverage seminars and demonstrations. But after doing a little research, my husband and I decided to attend an event called Kitchen Memories.” This event was a combination culinary demonstration and three-course lunch.


The demo that we attended was presented by Chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart from Zazu Restaurant + Farm and Black Pig Meat Co. in Santa Rosa, California. Reality television fans may remember Duskie from her stint on The Next Iron Chef in 2010. To our delight, the wine pairings for our lunch were by Silver Oak/Twomey Cellars.

I had purchased tickets in advance, but I believe you can purchase event tickets in the Festival Center (located in the old Wonders of Life pavilion), if there are still available spots.

Most events take place in Epcot's Food and Wine Festival Center

The tickets were $110 per person. We checked in at the demo/lunch area in the Festival Center and were asked to present photo ID, so this is something to keep in mind if you are attending any Food and Wine Festival events.

After the cast member verified our identities, we were presented with two tickets, telling us that we would be seated at the “Dill” table.

Seating Area for Kitchen Memories

At exactly 10:00 a.m., we were allowed to take our seats. This went quickly since everyone had been assigned to a particular table. We introduced ourselves to our tablemates, and got ready for a great lunch.

Table Decor at Kitchen Memories

First we heard from Charlie Campbell with Silver Oak/Twomey, who told us a little bit about the history of the two wineries and the family that owns them. Then things really got rolling when the chefs took the stage.

Chefs John Stewart and Duskie Estes

Chefs Estes and Stewart are married and have two daughters, ages 11 and 9. My sons are around the same age, so it was fun to hear the chefs’ stories of life on their pig farm with two children. It really gave us insight into the personalities of the chefs, both as parents and as chefs, and what it must be like to be part of their family.

In fact, Chef Estes shared with us that the dishes they would be cooking – and that we would be eating – were inspired by their daughters’ attempts to prepare her for her potential return to The Next Iron Chef as part of the 2012 “redemption” season. To make sure their mom was ready, they pitted her against Chef Stewart in a competition in which they had to make a dish using smoked paprika, tortilla chips, and a protein of their own choosing.

They also made Chef Estes wear rollerblades during the entire “competition” and provided Alton Brown-type commentary while their mom and dad cooked.

Chef Estes Talks to the Audience


Now that I’ve set the scene for you, let’s get on to the food!

Our first course was Duck Crack Taco Salad, paired with the Twomey Cellars Sauvignon Blanc. Chef Estes sautéed duck legs with onion, garlic, poblano pepper, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon. Then she added tequila and chicken stock.

The whole pan was then placed in the oven for about 90 minutes, until the meat began falling off the bone. We didn’t have to wait 90 minutes, of course, because the dishes already had been prepared in the kitchen. The “duck crack” was fried duck skin, which had been seasoned with smoked paprika and salt.

Video Screen Image of Duck Legs

The braised duck was plated with watercress, grilled corn, and cilantro, along with the duck cracklings and homemade tortilla strips, and dressed with lime vinaigrette.

Duck Crack Taco Salad

I’m not generally a big fan of duck because it tends to be so fatty. But this dish wasn’t fatty at all. The delicious leg meat was tender and flavorful, and the duck cracklings and tortilla strips added a nice crunch. The watercress, corn, and cilantro added clean, slightly tangy flavor to the salad. The crispness of the Sauvignon Blanc paired nicely with the fattiness of the meat and duck cracklings.

While we enjoyed the salad, Chef Stewart started cooking the next course – Rabbit Tostada and Smashed Avocado. He showed us how to butcher a rabbit (something I can say I’ll probably never do!). The preparation of the meat was essentially the same as the duck – sauté with spices, add stock, then place in the oven until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.

After shredding the meat, Chef Stewart combined it with black-eyed peas and butternut squash. In the meantime, Chef Estes made the smashed avocado – known to you and me as guacamole.

The rabbit meat was placed on a tostada and topped with cheddar cheese, guacamole, cilantro and sour cream.

Rabbit Tostada with Smashed Avocado

The chefs explained that they like to keep their food simple and use high quality ingredients, which provide amazing flavors. Just as with the duck dish, we found the flavors in the rabbit dish to be remarkably simple and clean. I have maybe only ever eaten rabbit once before, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it. This preparation made it so flavorful and tender.

The black-eyed peas and butternut squash added a bit of texture, and the guacamole was really good! The Twomey Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was a great pairing – it didn’t overpower the dish the way a Cabernet might have, but was still bold enough to stand up to all the flavors of the food.

Our final dish was a Mexican Chocolate Crème Brulee with Mexican Wedding Cookies. I know crème brulee is a simple dish, but it was astonishing how quickly Chefs Estes and Steward whipped it up! What I found surprising was that they used cascabel chilies in the dessert. Chef Estes showed us how to put the ramekins in a water bath before putting the custard in the oven.

Mexican Chocolate Creme Brulee with Mexican Wedding Cookies

This dessert was out of this world. I really wanted to lick my dish! It was paired with the Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

At first, it sounded strange to drink Cabernet with dessert, but the bold chocolate and bold wine complimented each other quite nicely.

Mmmmm....Silver Oak

After the demo, we had the opportunity to get the chefs’ autographs and chat with them briefly. Chef Estes is originally from Texas, where we are from, and we talked about that as well as a local Houston chef who was a fellow competitor on Next Iron Chef with her.


Kitchen Memories was my favorite of the three special events we attended at the 2012 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. I enjoyed learning about the food and cooking process, but I thought the most special part was getting to see the chefs’ personalities and hear their stories. This event cost $110 per person, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. If you are on a limited budget for special events, I would put this one high on the priority list.

Are you attending a Food and Wine Festival event this year? See all of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Special Events available for 2013 here!

As always, check out all of our in-depth 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival coverage on our Epcot Food and Wine Festival page!

News! The DFB Guide to the 2013 Epcot Food & Wine Festival e-Book is now available!

Check out hundreds of pages of detailed information about this year’s festival, including a day-by-day schedule of events, hundreds of full-color photos, and expert advice for getting the best bang for your buck at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

Use code CHEFS at check-out for a $3 discount!

Guest Review: Chef Robert Irvine Culinary Demo at Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Join us in welcoming 14-year-old guest author Katie Smith with a review of the culinary demonstration given by super popular Chef Robert Irvine at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! I love hearing about the Food and Wine Festival from the perspective of one of our  younger readers! Thanks,  Katie!

On Thursday October 25, 2012, my family and I got to see Robert Irvine’s culinary demonstration at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.


We had been to Cat Cora’s culinary demonstration earlier that month and thought we knew what to expect. Turns out, we had no idea. I am a huge fan of Robert Irvine, so I was really excited to watch him cook and eat his food!

To start out, there was a representative from Hannah Winery & Vineyards from Sonoma County, California. The wine was a Hanna Chardonnay.

All about Hannah Winery & Vineyards

Then Robert was introduced and proceeded to tell everyone to stand up, put their cameras down, their hands in the air and to go wild. It was a good way to warm up the crowd.

Then, he started cooking the dish, which was a Seared Scallop, Polenta, and Demi-glace. He was very big on audience participation and had an audience helper on stage almost the whole time.

Cooking Polenta with Robert Irvine


The scallop was cooked perfectly, the polenta was creamy and delicious, and the [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: October 28, 2012

Um…how cool are these Darth Vader s’mores?! I know I just posted about the Darth candy mold (and other super fun Star Wars and Marvel gift ideas) on Friday, but I couldn’t help showing it off again!

Darth Vader S'mores

So, in Disney Food News this week we were pleasantly surprised to discover updates to Walt Disney World’s standard bar menu found at the watering holes and restaurants throughout the parks and resorts.

We’ve also got my personal review of the new Frozen Beer in Epcot’s Japan pavilion. But there’s more to Disney than drinks… check it out!

Disney Food News

Disney World has new adult beverages, plus seasonal treats!

We’ve got additional food news (including a souvenir stein at Sleepy Hollow, new name for Fresh A-Peel in Downtown Disney, new Le Cellier dessert item, new menu item at Sci-Fi, restaurant closure updates, and LOTS more) on our Disney Food News Pin Board!

DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2012 Review!

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2012 is our comprehensive, 300-page e-book packed with Disney Dining tips for your next vacation. Wondering if the book will help with your upcoming trip? Check out our latest review!

We’d like to thank Richard Bernato at WDW Radio for the glowing review:

I bet that no one, in or out of Walt Disney World has researched and constructed such a study as her Guide to Walt Disney World Dining.

There is virtually no aspect about Disney Dining, planning for it, paying for it, and oh by the way enjoying it, that you will be unable to find in the guide. And having the book for its advice and information will certainly be a major contributor to you and your family’s very happy and satisfying vacation.

You can read the rest of the review here, and don’t miss the DISCOUNT with code WDW Radio!

Learn more about the DFB Guide here!

DFB Food Finds

If you find a fun new food in or from Disney, share a photo with us so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds!

This week, our colleagues at Disney Hipsters shared this spooky pic of a skeleton brownie at The Mara in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge! I haven’t seen this one anywhere else!

Skeleton Brownie at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Updates

The 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is still going strong, and we’re updating our coverage daily with World Showcase booth and special event reviews, new photos, and other Festival updates!

Rose Margarita, The Opening Cocktail at Tequila Lunch

Here’s some of the latest…

Find all of the latest Epcot Food and Wine Festival News and Reviews here, and stay tuned for our take on several seminars and events around the festival.

On to the Round-Up

David Lebovitz shares his perspective on Disneyland Paris eats (including some long-awaited macarons)!

Daveland takes a look at vintage photos of coffee locations in Disneyland before there was Starbucks.

Disney History Institute visits backstage at the vintage Golden Horseshoe in Disneyland.

AKL Resort orders room service at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Main Street Gazette re-visits the 2012 Epcot Food & Wine Festival with an at-home recipe for Frozen Jim Beam Red Stag Lemonade.

Eating (and Drinking) Around the World visits the 2012 Food & Wine Classic at the WDW Swan and Dolphin.

Disney Parks Blog takes us on a behind the scenes look at the Haunted Mansion’s gingerbread house in Disneyland.

Disney Food Post Round-Up: October 21, 2012

Are you as enchanted as we are about the newest restaurants coming to New Fantasyland in Disney World?

If you missed it, now’s the time to check out the new pics and video that we found this week from the West Wing and Rose Gallery in Be Our Guest Restaurant!

And don’t forget to check out the awesome Mega post of Be Our Guest Restaurant pictures AND the Gaston’s Tavern review!

Disney Food News

News is still pouring in from Be Our Guest Restaurant, plus we have a new place to get yummy ice cream sandwiches!

We’ve got additional food news (including new menus at Kona Cafe, a souvenir goblet at Be Our Guest, restaurant closure updates and LOTS more) on our Disney Food News Pin Board!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Updates

We’re in the middle of the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, and we’re updating our coverage daily with World Showcase booth reviews, new photos, and other Festival updates!

Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies -- Australia Booth

Here’s some of the latest…

Find all of the latest Epcot Food and Wine Festival News and Reviews here, and stay tuned for our take on several seminars and events around the festival. Coming soon — our review of the Tequila Lunch at La Hacienda de San Angel!

New DFB Deals of the Week!

Planning for your next Disney World trip? Get the best bang for your dining dollar with a great discount our DFB Disney Dining Guide e-Books!

We have BRAND NEW DFB Deals of the Week this week, including great discounts and deals for you on our best-selling Disney Dining Guides!

Get all the details on great prices here!

DFB Reader Finds This Week

Check out these new Disney food goodies that our readers have sent along to us! If you find a fun new food, share a photo with us so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds!

Thanks to Cinder F. for this picture of the fun Halloween Mickey mugs filled with chocolate and pumpkin mousse at Jolly Holiday Bakery at the Disneyland Resort!

Halloween treats!

And Kristina B. found these awesome Disney Villain Candy Corn Flavors at her local grocery store! Love it!

Disney Villain Candy Corn

And Matt Hoskins sent over these fun Wreck-It Ralph cupcakes at Disney Quest in Orlando’s Downtown Disney! These were in honor of the Disney World Wreck-It Ralph Meet-Up. (FYI, they’re Starring Rolls’ red velvet cheesecake cupcakes!)

Wreck-It Ralph Cupcakes

On to the Round-Up

Mickey Fix showcases Alice in Wonderland tea cups and saucers.

Walt Disney World for Grown Ups heads to the Siestas Pool Bar at the Coronado Springs Resort. You won’t have to leave The Dig Site’s pool area for eats and sips!

Daveland shares vintage photos of Disneyland’s Golden Horseshoe Saloon, Oaks Tavern Eatery, and Chicken Plantation Restaurant.

Passport to Dreams Old & New takes a historical look at the Polynesian’s original luau and the Contemporary’s Top of the World Restaurant. shares a pasta recipe from Shutters.

All Ears shares an insider look at the table settings, foods, and decor at Be Our Guest Restaurant.

Disney Parks Blog divulges the recipe for zucchini-carrot mini-cupcakes served at Disney’s Aulani on the island of Oahu in Hawai`i.

Disney by Mark celebrates Halloween at Award Wieners in Disney California Adventure with a Frank ‘n Weenie and Franken-Fusion Lemonade.

DFB Weekly Deals: Epcot Food and Wine Festival Midpoint Sale!

We’re halfway through the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival in Walt Disney World…and we’re marking the occasion with a celebratory sale on our popular Disney Dining e-Books! Snap up your books now, and don’t forget to take advantage of the bundle discounts for your upcoming trips!

We ate our way around World Showcase and now it’s your turn!

And to make sure you get the most information possible before heading to the Festival, we’re offering savings on all of our Disney Dining Guidebook bundles!

When you opt to get in on the celebration of savings, you’ll know our most recommended snacks, dining tips, and Disney food recommendations.

This Week’s Deals

We’ve done all the intensive work for you! When you get our Disney Dining e-Boook bundles, you’ll arrive Walt Disney World with a well-tested food plan!

“All The Guides” Bundle

With this deeply discounted bundle you receive ALL of our DFB Guide e-Books to date:

  • The DFB Mini-Guide to the 2012 Epcot Food & Wine Festival,
  • The DFB Mini-Guide to Epcot Snacks,
  • The 2012 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining,
  • The DFB Mini-Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks, and our fun
  • DFB Dining Adventures!

If you are headed to Disney World in the next year, this bundle is a Disney traveler’s must-have! And we’re thrilled to be able to give it to you this week for $4 off using code SAVINGS.

This Bundle is priced at a huge discount already (over 20% off), extending a great deal to our readers (AND their friends!) headed to Walt Disney World. And with our extra $4 off this week, you get a tremendous deal on these DFB guides.

Find out more about the All The Guides Bundle here!

Food and Wine Bundle

Food and Wine Bundle

The Food and Wine Bundle highlights our best-selling DFB Mini-Guide to the 2012 Epcot Food & Wine Festival and the critically-acclaimed DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining!

This bundle is heaped with everything you need to head to Disney World AND the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Grab the Food and Wine Bundle for $3 off using code SAVINGS.

Find out more about the Festival Bundle here!

Epcot Bundle

Epcot Bundle

The Epcot Bundle offers our [Read more…]

Hurry!! Epcot Food and Wine Festival Merchandise Available Online For One Week Only!

We have great news, but you’ve gotta hurry! If you forgot to pick up an item at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, need a gift for a Disney food-loving friend, or weren’t able to get to the Festival but want a piece of it anyhow, it’s time to shop online now! is offering Food and Wine Festival Merchandise online until October 14th!

Let’s take a look at some of the fun finds you can pick up this week ONLY!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Cookbook

Inspired by favorite current and past Epcot Food and Wine Festival menu items, this 2012 Food and Wine Festival Cookbook will allow you to “taste your way around the world” from your at-home kitchen. The handy softcover guide (with 60 pages!) is in an easy-to-use spiral format for finding new cocktails, appetizers, pairings, and more!

2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Cookbook

Epcot Food and Wine Festival T-Shirt

In a fitted silhouette, this Epcot Food and Wine Festival shirt is a fun addition to your wardrobe. Wear this comfy tee while hanging out and reminiscing about your trip around the World at this year’s Festival!

Ladies Festival Shirt

Epcot Food and Wine Festival “Mission Around the World” T-shirt

The 2012 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival screen art logo is on the front of the shirt. On the back, “Mission Around the World” screen art is featured. This Epcot Food and Wine Festival T-Shirt was a major favorite at the festival, and it’s [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: October 7, 2012

Whew! What a week!

As you know, I’ve been busy at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival eating my way around the World and updating ALL of our World Showcase Booth food pictures!!

But the best part? TV!! Those of you in Orlando may have seen me talking Food and Wine on Fox 35 News Orlando last Tuesday morning; and if you’re in Tampa you may have heard me chat about the Festival on WTSP 10 News yesterday morning!

Be sure to check out this clip all about my money-saving tips for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

But in addition to that, we’ve also got some fun new updates from the rest of the World of Disney to share with you… . Let’s take a look!

Disney Food News

Get ready to dig in to this week’s sweet and savory headlines from Disney!

We’ve got additional food news (including a clawdaddy food truck at Downtown Disney, self-ordering kiosk at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, restaurant closure updates and LOTS more) on our Disney Food News Pin Board!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Updates

The 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is in full swing, but we’re still updating our coverage daily with World Showcase booth reviews, new photos, and other news popping up from the Festival Center!

Check out this fun video of some Food and Wine Festival Entertainers in Future World!

Find all of the latest Epcot Food and Wine Festival News and Reviews here, and stay tuned this week for our take on several seminars and events around the festival (including exclusive pics of ME in WADERS in the OCEAN SPRAY CRANBERRY BOG!).

Also, our great DFB Deals of the Week for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Opening Week have been extended!!

Check out the awesome discounts we have available on our Disney Dining e-Book Bundles and our 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Guide!

More to come… stay tuned!

On to the Round-Up

Mickey Fix shares some very cool Alice in Wonderland teacups and saucers (which I haven’t ever seen before)!

Walt Disney World for Grown Ups sips on a Caramel Apple Frozen Margarita at Boardwalk Joe’s.

Passport to Dreams takes us on a vintage tour of Disneyland’s food service history. Wow!

Studios Central reminisces about extinct food once served at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Gorillas Don’t Blog discovers a vintage picture of Disney Legend Ginny Tyler sitting in front of Hills Bros. Coffee House in Disneyland.

Main Street Gazette dishes up Jerk Spiced Chicken Drumettes from the Caribbean marketplace at the Food and Wine Festival.

All Ears shows us the history of Dinoland, including the Restaurantosaurus.

Disney Parks Blog unveils the recipe for Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli served at the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

New! Gluten Free Menu for the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Finally!! Guests visiting the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival now have access to an official map with the location of menu items that are gluten-free!

See photos of ALL gluten-free items on our 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Gluten Free Page!!

Gluten Free Map for the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Here are your Disney-approved options for gluten-free eats at this year’s Festival:

Grilled Beef Skewer – Order without the Chimichurri Sauce!

Shrimp on the Barbie
Grilled Lamb Chop

Caribbean Islands
Jerk Spiced Chicken Drumstick

Jerk Spiced Chicken Drumstick with Mango Chutney

Beef Filet Mignon

Cheese offerings are gluten-free – skip the bread!

Florida Local
White Corn [Read more…]

Tour the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival With Us…Online!

Hey there, Disney food fans!

2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Planter

The time is nigh for us to Eat Around the World at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

I’d love to have you follow along and share your thoughts with us on our social media channels this weekend!

Where’s AJ Today?

Here’s where you’ll be able to find me sharing updates, photos, videos, and more starting tomorrow and heading all the way through next week:

All aboard! I’ll be tweeting @DisneyFoodBlog World Showcase Booth photos and reviews this weekend. And don’t forget to tune in for some pics and notes from my first Cheese Seminar on Saturday!

Subscribe to us on the Disney Food Blog YouTube Channel where I’ll be posting fun updates and features from the festival! will offer pics and reviews as well. Don’t forget to check out Epcot Food and Wine Festival Fans on facebook for All Food and Wine Festival, All the Time!

We’ll be pinning our coverage of the Food and Wine Festival at! Keep an eye on our boards!

And, of course, you’ll find us right here at, putting together some fantastic posts all about our adventures at the Festival. These will include our favorite new additions to the festival, reviews of seminars and demonstrations, a special report from the Cranberry Bog, and more!

Don’t forget — if you’re headed to Disney World, our must-do DFB Sales of the Week this week offer incredible discounts on our Disney Food Blog e-Book Bundles, including our popular [Read more…]

NEWS!: Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth Prices, VIP Lounge, and More!

As we’re gearing up for the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival that starts this Friday, September 28th, we’ve got a few new updates for ya!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth Prices and Disney Dining Plan Info Now Available

I’ve been hitting the pavement in Epcot to grab pics of all of the World Showcase Booth Menus and record prices for this year’s eats and drinks!

2012 Florida Marketplace Booth Menu - Click for larger image

You can check out our individual booth pages to see prices for the menu items as well as information on what’s available for a Disney Dining Plan Snack Credit this year!

Chase “Disney’s Visa Cardmember Lounge” Debuts in Epcot

Disney’s Visa Cardmembers will receive access to a new Chase Lounge in Epcot during the Festival!

Cardmembers and their guests can relax, enjoy a beverage, and rest up for more food and wine! Open 9am – 7pm each day of the Festival, the lounge is located on the Festival Center’s second floor. UPDATE: We’re getting word that this is open to ALL Chase cardholders, so it’s worth a shot even if you don’t have the mouse on your card.

For access, just present your Disney’s Visa Card.

New World Showcase Booth Construction Premiers

We’re always on the look-out for changes at the festival, and we’ve found some fun construction updates this year! At the World Showcase Marketplace Booths, it looks like three of our favorite spots have gotten a refurb.

Check out what seems like updated or even brand new booth construction for these countries: Argentina, Ireland, and New Zealand!

2012 New Zealand Marketplace Booth

New Gift Card Design Unveiled for the Food and Wine Festival

Food and Wine Festival gift cards work just like other Disney Gift Cards, but they’re so much more [Read more…]