Celebration of Taste

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival marks 20 years with noteworthy new offerings.

Pepper Bacon Mac & Cheese is a festival newcomer.

Courtesy Walt Disney World

Let the culinary celebration begin! Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is commemorating two delicious decades with more than 30 global marketplaces, including a few outside the World Showcase—a festival first. From Sept. 25-Nov.16, guests can savor offerings from more than 270 Disney chefs and culinary stars, and sip from more than 300 different wines. Here’s a look at some new and notable additions to this year’s festival:

CHEW ON THIS Culinary superstars Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall and Daphne Oz of The Chew, ABC’s cooking-themed talk show, will tape five programs before a live audience at the festival on Oct. 7-9 to air during the week of Oct. 12-16. For ticket information, visit thechew.com 

FUTURE FOOD For the first time, marketplaces have expanded beyond the World Showcase and into Future World. The new Next Eats festival area, in The Sustainable Chew Marketplace near Journey Into Imagination, features dishes from The Chew chefs and aims to teach guests about the importance of sustainability in food production. Also in Next Eats, Disney chefs have partnered with The Chew for the Chew Lab, a food-science-meets-culinary-tech experience showcasing curious fare like Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel.

NAPA’S CALLING With grape- vines and pergolas, the new Artistry of Wine & Cheese area whisks you away to Napa Valley, even for just a few sips and samples. Tucked along the walkway near Journey Into Imagination and Canada, this is the place to find the festival’s best premiums wines, which are served on tap and paired with cheese sample platters served on an artist’s palette. An added bonus: each keg of premium wine on tap will hold the equivalent of 26 wine bottles, eliminating bottle, cork, cardboard and paper waste from labels. 

FRESH BEATS Tiffany, Everclear, Maxi Priest and Chaka Khan are among the 22 bands and solo artists hitting the stage three times nightly for the festival’s Eat to the Beat Concert Series. Want a guaranteed seat inside the America Gardens Theatre? Book the Eat to the Beat Concert Series Dinner Package, available on select nights at 10 dining locations, and you’ll secure your spot, plus be wined and dined before the show.

NEW FINDS, OLD FAVORITES As always, Epcot will roll out a series of fresh offerings, including Pepper Bacon Mac & Cheese at the Farm Fresh marketplace and Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp at the Australia marketplace. But they’re also bringing back a few crowd favorites, including New Zealand’s Lamb Meatballs with Tomato Chutney as well as the much-loved New England Lobster Rolls at the Hops & Barley booth. 

PARTY HEARTY DJs will spin and the drinks will flow at the Rockin’ Burger Block Party, a new addition to this year’s festival party line-up from 7-9 p.m. on Sept. 25, Oct. 8 and Nov. 6. This spirited, all-you-can-eat (and drink) fete inside World ShowPlace will feature 13 kinds of inventive, chef-created sliders and a VIP Nosh Pit with private reserved seating and specialty cocktails. Tickets start at $99, not including park admission. 

SWEET SWAG Expect to see lots of anniversary loot to take home as mementos, including a new cookbook by local author Pam Brandon and Disney chefs that features 20 years of Food & Wine Festival recipes and stories. Also, watch for limited-edition collectible pins, bottle openers, holiday ornaments and three new Dooney & Bourke handbags. 

For festival details, visit epcotfoodfestival.com 

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