2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!
Chef Morimoto's Sushi World
Featuring Chef Masaharu Morimoto
Prosecco – Casa Vinicola, Zonin, Italy
Chef Morimoto's Spicy Tuna Roll
Debra Martin Koma
For the last several years, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival has offered Mixology sessions at the end of each day. These enjoyable events allowed you to listen to a presenter (a mixologist or beverage rep along with a mixologist), speak about a particular spirit or demonstrate the preparation of some cocktails, then gave you the chance to sample the drinks yourself. (You can read about a past Mixology session HERE.)
This year, the Mixology program has been transformed into a hands-on type of workshop that will have attendees learning how to make (not just mix) something. Sessions will teach you cake-decorating, pasta-making, garnishing… or yes, even mixology. Don't let the awkward name put you off — this is a really fun way to get involved and possibly take home a new skill from the festival.
When I was planning my Festival itinerary this year, the details for these sessions hadn't been released. I chose this particular date simply because I wanted to try this new version of the Mixology classes and this time and day fit into my schedule. Well, lucky me, for a change! Because the "Mix It, Make It" session I chose turned out to be led by former Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto!
When I entered the Festival Center about a half-hour before the program's 4 p.m. showtime, I stopped at the Information Desk to check if I needed to pick up a paper ticket, like you do for the culinary demos and beverage seminars. I was glad I asked, because it turned out that I did need that ticket — would have been a hassle to walk around the building only to find out I needed to walk back to the Info Center.
As I waited in line to be seated at the Chef's Showcase I checked out the table settings. I noted that there was not a set-up at each chair, in order to give participants plenty of elbow room when it came time for the hands-on portion of the program. As we were seated, we were each given a nice cold glass of prosecco, to toast the day's activities.
Billed as Chef Morimoto's Sushi World, we were ostensibly to learn how to make sushi, but we soon discovered we were in for much more of a treat than that. During our program, we had the opportunity to watch the culinary legend and a team of chefs from his Disney Springs restaurant Morimoto Asia prepare an amazing sushi showpiece.
Chef Morimoto is a rather playful guy, something I had never picked up on when watching him on television. Although he claimed his English skills weren't very good, he managed to entertain us with little jokes as he deftly filleted a whole fish, then proceeded to decorate it with assorted sushi, nigiri and even a gorgeous "rose" made of tuna. At one point he even crept over to the plants surrounding the stage and snipped off a few leaves to help decorate the plate. "Locally sourced!" he and the other chefs joked.
It was then our turn to get our hands dirty, so to speak. To supplement the ingredients that were already on the table, servers and the Morimoto chefs brought around the rest of the necessary items for our spicy tuna roll sushi-making. The master himself walked us through the steps, pointing out things that we may have been doing wrong along the way.
As the chefs circulated around the tables, the offered tips and advice. As I looked around, I could see and hear people laughing as they attempted to get their rolls just right. Below left, you see my effort, and on the right is a plate of perfect tuna sushi that was served to us. I don't think I did too badly, and it tasted pretty good, too!
As a parting gift, we were each given a bag with a small Food and Wine Festival bamboo cutting board and a photo of Chef Morimoto. To our delight, he agreed to do an impromptu signing for all attendees in an area on the other side of the Festival Center. Chef Morimoto was so gracious, patiently signing for everyone and allowing photos as well.
While I realize that not all of the future "Mix It, Make It" programs will feature a "name" presenter quite as special Morimoto, I think that for $49 the interactive approach works and that this program is a winner. You get everything you need for your "project," and it's all presented in a relaxed, highly entertaining and enjoyable fashion. I look forward to "mixing it, making it, and celebrating it" at least once more before the Festival ends.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to my tablemates and fellow sushi "chefs," Sharon and Jim Sadilek, who also shared some of their photos with me.
This new hands-on workshop series gives guests the opportunity to learn from the pros, whether it is cake decorating, garnishing, cocktail mixing or a variety of other fun topics.
Festival Welcome Center, Chef's Showcase
Daily at 4 p.m.
$49 per person, tax included.
Admission to Epcot is required and not included in event admission price. Alcohol will only be served to Guests 21 and older.
Call 407-WDW-FEST for reservations. Note that many sessions are already sold out.
If you attended this special Food and Wine Festival event, please leave a review on our Rate and Review page HERE.