2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
What's Cookin' with...

What's Cookin' With at Epcot Food and Wine FestivalSeptember 16, 2016
9:15 a.m.
Festival Center, Chef's Showcase
Epcot

What's Cookin' with...
Chef Elizabeth Falkner

Cost: $129

 

Menu:

Greek Yogurt with Berries Paired with Douce France Bakery Guava Cheese Pastry
Warm Douce France Bakery Croissant served with Mickey Butter
Stone & Skillet Savory Herb and Roasted Garlic English Muffin Topped with Oven Roasted Pancetta, 62.8 Degree Egg and Sundried Tomato Hollandaise Served with Melissa's Produce Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes with Onions and Leeks

Zonin Prosecco, Italy - Casa Vinicola Zonin SPA
Festival Cabernet Sauvignon, California
Festival Chardonnay, California


Grilled Fish Lettuce Tacos with 3 Salsas

 

Review by
Debra Martin Koma
Editor, AllEars.Net


Each year, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival brings some of the culinary world's most well-known chefs to Orlando. It is, quite honestly, one of the biggest draws for me personally -- I thoroughly enjoy seeing in person those chefs I've read about or watched on The Food Network, Bravo and other television programs, hearing them talk about the road that led them to where they are today. It's an added treat to have the opportunity to watch them prepare food up close, and, even better, sample some of their personal recipes. Over the years, the programs in which the Festival has presented these chefs has evolved a bit, but the general format has remained the same. You are given a meal, while you watch the chef on the stage preparing food, talking as they work. Afterward, you have the opportunity to ask questions of the chef directly.

What's Cookin' With at Epcot Food and Wine Festival
What's Cookin' With at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

This is the basic format for the "What's Cookin' with..." program that's being offered on Friday and Sunday mornings during this year's Festival. The program starts a bit earlier than it past years -- 9:15 a.m. -- but that works for me. Allows me to enjoy an even longer day of eating (and drinking)!

I attended the first of this year's "What's Cookin' with..." presentations, this one featuring Chef Elizabeth Falkner, who I have seen in numerous cooking competitions (Top Chef Masters, Iron Chef America and others) over the years. Chef Falkner, who was previously known mainly as a pastry chef, has also been involved with a number of restaurants, including her own Citizen Cake in the San Francisco/Bay Area. For our program, Chef Falkner was going to demonstrate the preparation of grilled fish tacos presented on leaf lettuce, rather than a traditional tortilla, along with three salsas.

I entered the Festival Center about 15 minutes before the event and found a number of people already in line at the Chef's Showcase. A cast member there walked the line, checking people in using her list on a clipboard, and giving us each a ticket with an assigned table.

The tables for the event were attractively set, with orange juice, a glass of prosecco and a cup of Greek yogurt at each place. (Some of us may or may not have taken advantage of the juice and sparkling wine to make our own Mimosas -- I have to thank my tablemates for that inspiration.

What's Cookin' With at Epcot Food and Wine Festival
What's Cookin' With at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Our pre-plated breakfast was served as we listened to Emcee Pam Smith, who has hosted many of these special dining events over the years, introduce Chef Falkner and get the morning off to an amiable start. Breakfast itself (pictured above right) was quite tasty, with our 62.8 degree poached eggs Benedict and oven-roasted pancetta putting an unusual spin on routine bacon and eggs. I understand that a similar breakfast is served at all of the "What's Cookin' With..." programs. If that's true, I think most attendees will be satisfied with the meal.

What's Cookin' With at Epcot Food and Wine Festival
What's Cookin' With at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

 

Our pre-plated breakfast was served as we listened to Emcee Pam Smith, who has hosted many of these special dining events over the years, introduce Chef Falkner and get the morning off to an amiable start. Breakfast itself (pictured above right) was quite tasty, with our 62.8 degree poached eggs Benedict and oven-roasted pancetta putting an unusual spin on routine bacon and eggs. I understand that a similar breakfast is served at all of the "What's Cookin' With..." programs. If that's true, I think most attendees will be satisfied with the meal.

What's Cookin' With at Epcot Food and Wine Festival
What's Cookin' With at Epcot Food and Wine Festival


As we ate, Chef Falkner prepared the fish tacos and the various accompaniments (pico de gallo, guacamole, and pineapple salsa), while telling of her television experiences, as well as what it was like to be the first American to win the "Freestyle Neapolitan Pizza" category of the World Pizza Championships in Naples, Italy, in 2012.

After she had prepared the tacos, servers brought a sample of the dish around for us to try ourselves. I wouldn't necessarily have expected to be served fish tacos at 10 in the morning, but still, they were undeniably tasty, and seemed easy enough to make -- I may try my hand at the recipe myself.

Overall, I found the "What's Cookin' With..." program to be very enjoyable, although, at $129/person, I'm thinking that it may have reached the outer limits of what it's worth... especially considering that we did not receive any sort of parting gift, as is the norm at these special Festival dining events. That said, however, I would probably consider attending another such session, particularly if the chef were one I especially admired.


VITAL INFO:

What's Cooking With... -- Begin the day with a plated breakfast joined by a celebrity guest, who will offer culinary insights into a favorite dish. Toast with sparkling wine and then sit down with the event emcee and the guest for a question and answer session, as they share the secret ingredients of their success.

WHERE: Festival Center, Chef's Showcase
WHEN: Select Fridays and Sundays, 9:15 - 10:45 a.m.
PRICE: $129 per person, plus tax, gratuity included (Epcot admission required.)

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.