*This culinary demonstration took place on October 18, 2016. Guests attending culinary demonstrations with a special diet should contact WDW’s Special Diets Department in advance.
Disney’s Epcot Food & Wine Festival always offers new and interesting culinary experiences for guests, and each year, it seems like there’s a new demo or meal offering. This year, Disney introduced a new culinary demo series called, “Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!” which offered guests a chance to work with a chef to create a recipe highlighted by the chef.
I’ve previously been to some of the more basic culinary demonstrations, which include a food sample and a wine sample, but this sounded like a fun experience. The “Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!” demos took place daily from 4-5 p.m. at the Festival Center, Chef’s Showcase. Tickets were $49 per person, tax included.
On this particular occasion, Brandon and I had gone to Chef Kevin Dundon’s culinary demo during the Epcot 2016 Food & Wine Festival at 2 p.m. and then ended up going to Chef Tony Marotta’s “Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It!” at 4 p.m. So, it was all cooking all day!
Chef Tony is the head chef at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort (home to the amazing gluten free & allergy friendly beignets), so it’s no surprise that his dish for the day was decidedly New Orleans inspired.
We would be creating our very own New Orleans Style Cobb Salad. Plus, as we learned, we’d get to make our own blackening seasoning and even got to take it home. (Yes, I’ll totally be recreating this dish on My Gluten Free Disney Kitchen!).
Here are some video highlights from the demo:
We had everything we needed to create our own custom salads. This made it easy, as the cheese could omitted with no worries, and any allergy offending ingredients could be switched too.
The culinary team even went above and beyond to make sure all the guests attending the demo had what they needed and that any modifications could be made. Since everything was pre-packaged, that was really easy!
Brandon is allergic to fish and shellfish, so the team swapped out his shrimp for more chicken.
First up, Chef Tony showed us how to make our seasoning mix and walked us through how we would season and cook our protein. He then showed us how to make our own salad dressing, giving us the option to customize our recipe every step of the way.
On a side note, I loved the New Orleans flare in every part of the demo, including the beads we had on the table!
As you can see from my completed salad above, I chose add lots of chicken, shrimp, ham, and avocado to my salad. Topped with our homemade dressing, it was a huge hit. Even Brandon, who is not a big salad fan, said this was really good.
As a demo take-away, we received a copy of the recipe (which I’ll be sharing here on the blog soon!), our own custom blackening seasoning, and a really lovely small Epcot Food & Wine Festival cutting board. How cool is that? For $49, this was definitely a nice touch.
Overall, we had a great time and enjoyed the small atmosphere. The seating for these demos are very limited, and I would say there were about 14 of us in total. It gave us a lot of time to interact with Chef Tony and ask any questions we wanted about the dish. Plus, on the way out, we had to take a photo with the Chef himself!
If you have a special dietary need, I would definitely recommend contacting Disney’s Special Diets Department in advance to discuss any needs. Many of the Disney chefs are very attune to making allergy friendly meals and often make their dishes during the festival allergy friendly or easily modified, which is great. Chef Tony and his team did an awesome job with our salad options!
Here’s the full 2016 Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It! Schedule including other allergy friendly demos, such as the one from Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC, so you can see what types of demos might be available. Only time will tell if this series was successful enough to be a repeat in 2017. I do hope it does because we had a great time at it!
A special thanks to Chef Tony for making a gluten free and dairy free friendly dish!