Food and Wine Sizzles and Sparkles Beginning Friday

As most of you are aware the 2009 edition of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival will be beginning this Friday. Here are the full details released on the annual event this week by Disney:

Fine cuisine and wines from some of the best “foodie” cities in the world will take a bow at the 13th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 26 through Nov. 9 at Walt Disney World Resort. Opening weekend, eight of the country’s top chef teams will compete at the gold-standard Bocuse d’Or USA semifinals of the international cuisine contest, to be held at Epcot for the first time.

The prestigious cook-off will feature the country’s leading chef candidates, each with one assistant, cooking Sept. 26 and 27 before an audience of park guests at World Showplace pavilion. The winning team, to be selected by prominent chef judges, will be announced Sept. 27 at a grand gala. The finalist team will compete in January at the international contest in Lyon, France, founded by renowned French chef Paul Bocuse.

Throughout the six-week festival, Epcot guests can explore the culinary “Cities in Wonderland” – from trendy Cork, Ireland, to the melting pot of Cape Town, South Africa – around the World Showcase promenade while also discovering blissful bites at international and regional marketplaces brimming with exotic flavors and comfort foods. The six-week festival will showcase tastes from countries on six continents.

More than 25 international marketplaces will serve tapas-sized portions of regional specialties at $2-to-$5 each, and recommended wines and beers make perfect pairings at each kioskNew festival flavors explore the culinary wonders of Lyon, France; Marrakesh, Morocco; Shanghai, China; Bologna, Italy; Tokyo and Mexico City. Exhibits along the promenade also will showcase entertainment and traditional crafts of several countries.

Daily complimentary wine and beer tastings serve up sips from around the world, and culinary demonstrations dish up featured taste treats. A series of special culinary programs features a lineup of renowned winemakers, guest chefs and speakers participating in elegant dinners, luncheons, seminars and wine schools. “We wanted to take our guests on a grand gustatory expedition,” says Nora Carey, festival manager. “The cities that we’ll feature are known for great dining experiences, and the ‘Cities in Wonderland’ theme will inspire our guests to enjoy great food and wine in a fresh new way.”

The Epcot festival continues to grow dramatically, attracting a diverse audience of more than one million guests each fall – from wine connoisseurs and epicures to neophytes wishing to boost their wine IQs. Beer aficionados can raise their steins at several tasting locations, including Germany’s Biergarten, which specialize in brews from light to dark.

Musical entertainment pairs perfectly with culinary fun during the nightly Eat to the Beat! concert series featuring a varied lineup of classic rock, soul, R&B, oldies, jazz and funk hit-makers. Concerts are performed three times each evening at America Gardens Theatre along the World Showcase lagoon. New acts to appear include Kool & The Gang, Spyro Gyra, En Vogue and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. David Sanborn, Jon Secada and Otis Day and the Knights are among returning crowd-pleasing acts.

Festival highlights include:

  • Opening weekend Bocuse d’Or USA chef competition presented by culinary stars including Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Jerome Bocuse, who runs the Chefs de France restaurant at Epcot. All park guests can attend the cook-off, where competitors will prepare elaborate fish and meat platters to be evaluated for excellence in taste, presentation, creativity and technical precision.
  • The Festival Welcome Center, with a Champagne and Wine Bar, complimentary wine seminars, celebrity chef book signings, and festival keepsakes including exclusive festival pins and an official festival cookbook.
  • New cultural experiences. At Louisiana, hosted by Louisiana Office of Tourism, guests can discover sights, sounds, flavors and crafts of the state’s seven regions. Music, dance, artistry, food and beer are featured, and complimentary culinary seminars are hosted daily. At Melbourne, Australia, hosted by Tourism Victoria, guests can glimpse Federation Square and scenes from Queen Victoria Market. A wine walkabout and tasting bar serve favorite sips.  The marketplace kiosk offers tasty bites. And complimentary wine seminars occur daily.
  • Some 250 Disney chefs and guest chefs conducting culinary demonstrations and hosting elegant dinners and tasting events. Guest chefs now booked include Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace, Rock Harper of Hell’s Kitchen, Tre Wilcox from Top Chef Season 3, plus Cat Cora, Jamie Deen, Allen Susser, Jeff Henderson, Gale Gand, Robert Irvine, Todd English, Warren Brown plus many other culinary stars.
  • New culinary programs to include French Regional Lunches at Bistro de Paris in France pavilion; City Tastes of global food and drink at World Showplace Pavilion; a Master Class Series with wines and champagnes at the Festival Center; and the Bocuse d’Or Grand Gala at World Showplace. Popular Epcot Wine Schools, Food and Wine Pairings, Kitchen Conversations and other events also are scheduled.
  • The weekly Party for the Senses grand tasting event featuring tempting tastes from eminent chefs, more than 70 wines and beers and live entertainment.
  • Family fun at Pearville Fair, a slice of Americana where pears from the great Northwest take center stage, and Behind the Seeds Greenhouse Tour at The Land fish farm and greenhouses, where guests can sample a greenhouse vegetable and release lady bugs.Festival guests also can enjoy new Epcot experiences including the re-launched Spaceship Earth attraction in Future World, with narration by Oscar winner Dame Judi Dench, new scenes, sets and costumes, updated Audio-Animatronics figures, plus a touch-screen interactive ride sequence. In World Showcase, there’s a new restaurant at the Italy pavilion, Tutto Italia, with cuisine from different regions of Italy. And the Japan pavilion just introduced its new Tokyo Dining and Teppan Edo restaurants. Mexico’s new tequila bar is perfect for cool sips on a warm autumn evening.Included with Epcot Admission:

    Wine and beer seminars, cooking demonstrations, special book signings at the Festival Center, Eat to the Beat! concerts, culinary and cultural exhibits, and all attractions and park entertainment are included with regular Epcot admission.

    Special Programming by Reservation:

    The Party for the Senses grand tasting events, Food and Wine Pairings at select Epcot restaurants, Regional Feasts, Epcot Wine Schools, Cheese Tastings, Sweet Sundays, and other special wine and culinary programs require reservations and separate admission.

Guests can call 407/WDW-FEST (939-3378) for information and to make reservations for special events and programs. Festival details are available at the Web site: