It’s time to start getting excited about the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! Today, we’re whetting your whistle as guest reviewer @MealTrip joins us with mini-reviews from four culinary demos presented at the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Read on and learn what to expect this year at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival culinary demos.
The Culinary Demonstrations held at the Festival Welcome Center (the old Wonders of Life Pavilion), provide a great gateway for those looking into any of the extra “pay to attend” events at the Food and Wine Festival. At $12 to $15 per person, per seminar, they really are one of the best values at the festival.
A representative from the winery, a chef, and an interviewer are present during the experience to talk about the wine you’re sampling, and actually prepare a version of the dish in an on-stage kitchen. In most cases, there’s also time to get a few questions from the audience answered. (Okay, again for the realists out there, there’s a much larger kitchen behind the kitchen on stage, where your food is being prepared at the same time.)
While it is recommended that you reserve a spot early (booking begins on August 13th for everyone; August 9th for Tables in Wonderland and DVC members, Golden Oak Residents, and Annual Passholders), you can also check in at the Festival Center when the park opens to see what’s still available for the day.
On to the fun stuff, a recap of a few events from the first week of the 2012 festival…
Celebrity Chef Cat Cora Culinary Demonstration
Details: Chef Cat Cora
from Kouzzina – Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. Dish: Seared Shrimp with Spiced Hummus and Peppedew Relish. Wine: Brampton UnWooded Chardonnay.
We’ll start our little recap with the Iron Chef herself, Cat Cora.
Chef Cora’s dish was Seared Shrimp with Spiced Hummus and Peppedew Relish, and it was paired with a DCG (South Africa) Brampton UnWooded Chardonnay.
In Orlando, it would be hard to mention Cat Cora’s name without talking about Kouzzina at Disney’s BoardWalk, and Chef de Cuisine Dee Foundoukis, who was also in attendance at the Demonstration.
Cat Cora’s name is attached to Kouzzina, but Chef Foundoukis is at the restaurant eight days a week, can make phyllo dough from scratch, and if you ask really nicely… will even cut the head off your fish so that creepy little eye isn’t staring at you when the plate arrives. Okay… maybe that last one is just for me.
I have been to demonstrations featuring both Cat Cora and Dee Foundoukis, and they always, always bring the goods. Spicy/sweet, hot/cold, crunchy/smooth… there are multiple contrasts to everything they do, and multiple layers of flavor.
The shrimp dish they prepared for the demonstration was no exception… my favorite dish of the week! I have never really thought about using a warm hummus before (made from scratch by the way), but it really worked well against the cold (but spicy) Peppedew Relish. This really was a top notch dish.
Celebrity Chef Kevin Dundon Culinary Demonstration
Details: Chef Kevin Dundon
from Raglan Road – Downtown Disney. Dish: Coquille St. Jacque’s (Scallops). Wine: Acacia Vineyards Chardonnay, Carneros – Diageo Chateau & Estate.
The next celebrity chef in our lineup here is Kevin Dundon (Raglan Road – Downtown Disney). He’s the kind of bloke that all the ladies swoon over and all the gentlemen want to take out for a beer. He’s also not afraid to casually start giant stove-top fires with a torch and Irish whiskey in the middle of a theme park… how can you not love this guy?
Kevin made Coquille St. Jacque’s, which is Scallops floating in a cloud of mashed potatoes. It’s really all about the St. Jacques sauce though.
With ingredients like butter, bacon, white wine, heavy cream and Dubliner cheese… it’s just going to taste great!
The dish was paired with Acacia Vineyards Chardonnay, and as an added bonus… Chef Dundon made a second dish for everyone, Cherries Jubilee! Complete with flaming cherries and cold ice cream.
You never know what you’re going to get at a culinary demo!
“What’s A Cassava?” Culinary Demonstration
Details: Chef Amanda Lauder, Boma
– Animal Kingdom. Dish: Cassava Cake with Tropical Fruit Salsa. Wine: Spice Route Chenin Blanc – The Spice Route Winery (South Africa)
Next up, Amanda Lauder and Jose (Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boma) were recreating one of Jose’s pastry recipes: Cassava Cake with Tropical Fruit Salsa. If you have eaten at Boma over the last couple of years, Jose’s probably the guy that made your Zebra Domes.
Cassava root (also sometimes called yuca root) natively grows in South America, but was brought to Africa by Portuguese traders. When dried to a powdery extract, Cassava root is known as tapioca. Who knew? The Cassava root must also be cooked properly, because in its raw state… it’s toxic. So don’t go sprinkling some raw Cassava on your ice cream at home.
Jose and Amanda created a flour-less heavy cake using the Cassava root and many coconut bits (milked, shredded, toasted), and paired it with a Tropical Fruit Salsa containing dried pineapple, mango, and papaya.
I’m not sure you would really eat the cake by itself, but with the Fruit Salsa and the wine, it all made perfect sense.
The successful wine pairing was a Chenin Blanc from Spice Route South Africa, which has a full bodied palate and a fresh, pineapple finish.
“Fooding Your Salt” Culinary Demonstration
Details: Chef Alisa Malavenda
from POSH Salt, Cliffside Park, New Jersey. Dish: Cured Norwegian Gravlax with Cucumber Dill Creme Fraiche, Crispy Capers and Micro Greens, Himalayan Salt Seared Spiedini di Manzo and Purple Potato Hash. Wine: Handcraft Chardonnay – Handcraft Artisian Winery (California).
Next up, Alisa Malavenda and Laura E. Castelli from POSH Salt in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. I can’t possibly condense their presentation down to a few paragraphs, but Chef Alisa’s message was this… instead of salting your food, food your salt.
There are two basic products here: tableware made out of salt, and cooking surfaces made out of salt. Just to give an example, you could serve cucumbers and tomatoes on a plate made out of Himalayan salt, or put unsalted potato salad in a bowl made out of salt.
With your food being served right out of the salt-made tableware, it will naturally pick up the flavor without having to add additional salt to the recipe. You could even make (for example) chocolate ganache truffles, and serve them right on a beautiful piece of salt-ware. Talk about dinner party drama!
The second notion is to actually cook food on a giant piece of salt, such as hash browns, a fried egg, steak, pizza… anything that you can sear or bake can be made on a block of really hot salt!
Chef Malavenda cured some Salmon, overnight, in between two giant Himalayan Salt Blocks to make Norwegian Gravlax with Cucumber Dill Creme Fraiche and Crispy Capers.
She then seared thinly sliced beef on a pre-heated block of salt, along with Purple Potato Hash. Some micro greens were added and the whole ensemble was plated on a block of salt!
The food was not any more or less salty than any other food I’ve eaten, everything was just delicious. As an added bonus, everyone got to keep the salt slab that their food was served on! We were all given a little plastic bag to put it in, and a 30% off coupon code for any more salt-ware that you might want to order.
The food entry was served with HandCraft’s Artesian Collection Chardonnay, which is a Chardonnay, Viognier, and Chenin Blanc blend. This is a really accessible wine that just goes with everything, and can stand by itself as well. Very pleasant aromatics and a well balanced medium body. I may be in the minority here, but I don’t believe you should have to think too hard about a food and wine pairing, and all of HandCraft’s wines just seem to go with everything. My favorite Chardonnay of the week, hands down.
So if you have plans to attend the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival and would like to try out one of the Culinary Demonstrations, book your spot as soon as possible.
No matter if there’s a “celebrity” chef in attendance or not, there’s always something new to learn or taste, and the demos provide a really nice relaxing contrast to most of the day’s other activities. I also think that they highlight a point (more so than any of the other Food and Wine Festival events), and that is… “people” make food, not restaurants… and that’s really fun to watch!
Did you attend a culinary demo last year? Will you sign up for a demo in 2013? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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