Of all the food and wine festivals around, Epcot International Food and Wine Festival at Disney World has been the only one where you sample not only food and drink from over 25 nations, but also their food- and drink-related cultures and traditions. And beginning in 2015—at the 20th annual event—you’ll even be able to peer into their culinary futures.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, every late September through mid-October, is one of the biggest Orlando festivals of the year. It’s become immensely popular of its wine tastings, demonstrations, seminars, celebrity chef book signings, and other events tantalize the taste buds and satisfy the foodie in all of us. But in 2015 the future of food unfolds like an overstuffed chalupa—and on network television.
ABC’s The Chew Comes to Orlando
The cast and crew of ABC’s hit daytime food-themed talk show, The Chew, will be taping five shows from the festival over a three-day stretch in October 2015. The co-hosts—Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Clinton Kennedy, Daphne Oz and Michael Symon—will highlight the 20th annual extravaganza for their viewers and also add to the list of recipes on display at festival marketplaces and in the official festival cookbook.
The Chew Lab and Sustainable Chew
This Florida food festival always offers many dishes and experiences worth highlighting. But in 2015, festival goers welcome two more, two new marketplaces located in a venue called Future World. The Chew Lab will present recipes and gadgetry that portend the future of cooking. Susatainable Chew rides the momentum of the current farm-to-table movement into scenarios that expand the exciting and ecologically necessary approach to food preparation.
Beyond that, the festival provides what the festival always has provided—comfort foods for foodies, body and soul.
Signature dishes in appetizer portions are available at booths set up around the park, many accompanied with region-appropriate wine, beer or cocktails in both sample sizes and regular sizes. But at Epcot, you’d better pace yourself if you want to make it all the way “around the world” without popping a button or two. Festival veterans recommend taking a lap around the World Showcase first to narrow down your favorite food choices.
And oh, what choices! The fare changes every year, but the menu items range from predictable to wildly original. This is not one of those food festivals that a non-adventurous eater would shy away from, nor is it so bland that a foodie would be bored. Not salivating yet? Here is a rundown of some of the concoctions and daring dishes available for sampling in past years: In Germany, you could try Spaetzle with Creamy Mushroom Ragout, Sausage on a Pretzel Roll, and Apple Strudel. People who stopped by Morocco sampled Kafta and Bastilla. The food stations in India offered Curried Butternut Squash Soup and Coconut Indian Rice Pudding. And of course, it wouldn’t be France without a little Escargot and Champagne Sorbet.
The wine selection is also superb, with all well-known regions represented. Australian Shiraz, South African Chardonnay, German Riesling, Italian Pinot Grigio, Napa Valley Cabernet, French Bordeaux and Chilean Sauvignon Blanc: They are all there and then some. Admission to the festival is included with a regular Epcot admission (about $75 for adults). Most food samples are between $4 and $8, and wine/beer ranges from $4 to $12.
The food and wine festival is considered one of the best Orlando events around, playing host to many specialty dinners, some more lavish than others. The crème de la crème being Party for the Senses, which takes place every Saturday night during the festival. This popular event includes reserved seating at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series at the America Gardens Theatre and a private sampling of food from more than 25 chefs and 70 different wines and beers.
Orlando is full of amazing dining experiences, but this one takes the cake. So if you feel a little adventurous, you have a big appetite—or both—take a trip to Epcot in the autumn. The weather is mild, the grills are hot and you can eat your way around the world in one amazing, gluttonous day.