Feasting on Food Fests

Epcot's Food & Wine Fest to run longer, our waistlines to get bigger. It's all good!



Disney just announced details of its 22nd annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which opens August 31 and runs for an astounding 75 days (my ongoing joke that some day F&W will last six months, followed by six months of Flower & Garden, may actually come true). Food & Wine involves 35 Marketplace kitchens, innumerable special events, culinary demos and dinners such as the (very) expensive Party for the Senses—last year’s galas, of which there are several, ran from $169 to $329, and that’s without park admission.

Food, my friends, is hot, and profitable. True, the dollars don’t necessarily add up in independently owned restaurants, but fests must be raking it in—why else are there so many of them? Between the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, Central Florida Veg Fest, the United Way Chef’s Gala, the Downtown Food and Wine Festival, various Tastes, Showdowns and the aforementioned and increasingly food-centric Flower & Garden, there is a year’s worth of eating on the horizon with thousands of strangers.

And it’s not isolated to Central Florida.

In Scotland, the Golden Spurtle Championship celebrates the country’s best porridge makers. Alresford, near Winchester, has a British Watercress Fest in May, while this very week marks the Ottawa Poutinefest, echoed by our own Poutine Palooza at K Restaurant on the 22nd. Forty thousand people and trucks from 14 countries are expected at the Limerick International Food Truck Festival in Ireland this June. More than 1,600 people eat at the Longest Lunch Table at Australia’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, while hundreds of thousands of world cuisine aficionados attend the annual Mistura Food Fest in Lima, Peru.

A weekend in the Czech Republic for the Prague Food Festival; seven days at Sabor a Cabo in Los Cabos, Mexico; or a 10-day food blast at the Taste of Edmonton soiree … it’s no wonder none of us can lose weight.

AROUND TOWN:

  • Chef Shifters: Harold Henderson, formerly of Jamie McFadden’s Cuisiniers catering service, K and Citrus, has taken over the kitchen at North Quarter Tavern after the departure of Matt Wall. Scott Pizzo, who has worked at Norman’s, Dragonfly, The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder, now heads Highball & Harvest at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando. While it’s been several months since he first moved from California Grill, Daniel Sicilia is taking the African-inspired menu at Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to new heights.
  • Meza, run by Nazih Sebaali, owner of former Downtown Orlando mainstay Café Annie (which was open for a staggering 29 years), is doing business next to Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park with a menu brimming with Lebanese delights. Expect a full review shortly. 

Stay in touch with Joseph at joseph.hayes@orlandomagazine.com. You can access a comprehensive list of his reviews here!

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Savor Orlando

From fine dining to local hot spots, the latest restaurant news, reviews and more.

About This Blog

For the past 20 years, I've made my living as a features, food and travel writer, playwright and jazz producer. I collect odd facts about Central Florida's food scene, such as College Park once being a pineapple plantation; or where to sample local mead (hint: it's in DeLand). I'd rather eat small tastes than a big meal, and my go-to food is noodles.

Find out more at jrhayes.net

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