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Details on Epcot’s 20th International Food & Wine Festival this fall

by Banks Lee

epcot international food and wine festival

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is celebrating 20 delicious years with celebrity chefs, new marketplace tastes from around the world and guests’ favorite dining traditions.

From Sept. 25 though Nov. 16, 2015, Disney chefs and festival programmers are whipping up a feast of surprises. New wine tastings, parties and culinary experiences built around the 20-year milestone will bring together loyal festival fans and first-timers. As part of the celebration, Chef Remy of the Disney animated film “Ratatouille” will invite guests to join a culinary scavenger hunt.

Growing in scope each year since 1996, the 53-day Epcot event features inspired bites and sips from around the world at more than 25 outdoor marketplaces, nightly Eat to the Beat concerts of many musical genres, signature dinners and featured tasting events.

Festival guests can pair wines and beers with savory and sweet dishes as they stroll the World Showcase Promenade and earn stamps on their complimentary festival passports. Champagne, cocktails and “mocktails” also will bubble up on festival menus. The Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog returns for a fourth year so that families can discover the cranberry’s rich agricultural heritage and learn fun facts about the tart fruits.

New marketplace menus debut – Among many dishes set to debut are Seared Venison Loin with Wild Mushroom Ragout and Kumara Dumpling at the New Zealand Marketplace, Pepper Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese at the Farm Fresh Marketplace, Scottish Citrus Thistle at the Scotland Marketplace and Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Peppers, Onions and Snap Peas at the Australia Marketplace.

Four new Eat to the Beat concert acts debut; fan favorites return to festival stage – Rock singer-songwriter David Cook opens the Eat to the Beat concert series Sept. 25-27. Four new acts in the concert series lineup — Tiffany, Everclear, Maxi Priest and Chaka Khan – will belt out chart-topping tunes. Other popular acts, including Wilson Phillips, Smash Mouth, The Pointer Sisters, Jo Dee Messina, Boyz II Men and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, will return to rock the America Gardens Theatre stage this fall.

‘The Chew’ tapings – ABC’s “The Chew” is leaving its Manhattan studio for the first time in the show’s history to broadcast from the Festival. The series will tape five shows with co-hosts Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Daphne Oz on Oct. 7, 8 & 9 to air during the week of Oct. 12 to 16 on “The Chew.” The shows from Epcot will showcase festival highlights as well as food and beverage from “around the world” of Walt Disney World. Visit TheChew.com for information on how to obtain tickets to be part of the live audience during “The Chew” broadcasts.

Future World marketplaces – “The Chew” will be featured in two themed marketplaces located at the new Next Eats area of Future World, the first time in the festival’s history that new culinary experiences have expanded into the Future World area of the park. At the new Sustainable Chew Marketplace, festivalgoers can enjoy three dishes inspired by “The Chew” co-hosts. From savory pork spareribs with red wine and fennel with cheesy mascarpone grits and ricotta & zucchini ravioli with tomato sauce to vanilla panna cotta with fresh figs and pistachio brittle, “The Chew” has something for everyone. The eco-home-inspired marketplace will offer guests a chance to learn more about how food is grown and the importance of food sustainability. Herbs and vegetables harvested from The Land pavilion greenhouses at Epcot will flavor the marketplace dishes. A second new Future World marketplace at Next Eats will feature the Chew Lab, where Disney chefs are collaborating with “The Chew,” to create a cutting-edge marketplace inspired by food-science labs and the hottest culinary tech trends.

Celebrity chefs – Renowned chef and cookbook author John Ash, who participated in the inaugural Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in 1996, will return to celebrate the 20th milestone year. Other notable chefs including Cat Cora, Robert Irvine, Jamie Deen, Rock Harper, Kenny Gilbert and Buddy Valastro will cook for Epcot guests and share their culinary know-how during demos and premium events.

Ratatouille rocks — Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak invites kids of all ages to join a World Showcase scavenger hunt for little Remy statuettes hidden around the park’s World Showcase. Maps, stickers and prizes are involved.

Festival Center gets cookin’ – Guests can join culinary demonstrations, beverage seminars and mixology seminars daily for a nominal fee. More festival fun will include the complimentary Back to Basics weekend series featuring epicurean tips and tricks from the pros.

Chase Lounge offers perks – Anyone who owns or wants to own a Chase debit or credit card will find complimentary refreshments and interactive fun at the Chase Lounge at American Adventure.

Back to Basics series, Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog, special book signings, Eat to the Beat concerts, cultural adventures, Marketplace Discovery Passport and all attractions and park entertainment are included with regular Epcot admission.

The Party for the Senses grand tasting events, signature dinners and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate event admission. When a reservation booking date is announced this summer, guests can call 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378) and get details at EpcotFoodFestival.com.

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