Andrew Zimmern Culinary Demonstration – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2014

this Epcot International Food & Wine experience took place on Saturday, October 11, 2014

Let’s start by saying that from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, Epcot is absolutely crazy during Food & Wine. We arrived well before noon for our 1:00 demo and they had already filled up the grassy areas between the parking lots and the theme park with cars PLUS the parking lots were nearly full. Whew! We knew when we scheduled a Saturday Culinary Demo that it would be … get in, do demo, get out. And that’s what we did…


Spoiler alert: Synopsis: We enjoyed Chef Andrew Zimmern. We didn’t enjoy the wine. We didn’t enjoy the food we were served.


When it’s a television celebrity chef doing the demo, the lines start to form about an hour beforehand. There’s the official line to get into the “kitchen” … Then there’s the crowds of fans who didn’t get a ticket for some reason and they have their signs to hold up, hoping that someone will either give them a ticket or that the celebrity will see them and invite them in (I’m conjecturing).

Knowing this, we got our tickets and skedaddled out to the Future World Beer Cart and got us two grown up sized beers to have while we sat in line.

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 01

Sam Adams Oktoberfest and Racer 5 IPA (new to us, quite good too)

When we bought our tickets (back in early August), the schedule said that Andrew would be cooking venison – things are subject to change – we got seafood paired with a Merlot. Ugh, this isn’t looking good.

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 02

Recipe for Seafood Paella – sounds good

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 03

Andrew Zimmern

Of course, we start with the wine. It’s a Merlot for Chile. It was served COLD. At first, all nick got was alcohol when he smelled it and I got just a hint of fruit. As it warmed up a bit, it smelled a little better but still it was thin/weak.

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 04

Fabian Quintero and Pam Smith

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 05

“this wine will have very concentrated fruit because of the climate” – uh, not to our palates

We were rather dubious about a chilean merlot with seafood.

They really tried to sell us on this pairing – Oh! Isn’t it great! The merlot brings out the chorizo in the paella! Etc! … Maybe it’s because we’ve done quite a few of these, the wines are pre-selected based on scheduling the representatives and the food is determined by the chefs or by Disney. There isn’t a tremendous effort to make sure that you get a true PAIRING. This didn’t work for us, and it didn’t really work for the people at our table.

Also, Pam told us to enjoy our paella while it was piping hot. Geesh, nothing is really piping hot for these culinary demonstrations. Yes, it was warm but barely.

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 06

AZ has his own cookware… the paella pan on the left is a great multitasker and the clay dish on the right is similar to a tagine & is a multitasked too

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 07

Andrew Zimmern looks thinner in person than he does on tv

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 08

known as the guy who eats weird things, he thinks of family meals as a way to see similarities and sameness in cultures around the world

Now, on to the food.

Because this is served banquet-style (in other words, it doesn’t resemble what he’s cooking on the stage)… the seafood was cooked outside the paella… and this is “okay because it’s about getting the dish to you in the best way”. [We beg to differ with this, why in the world would you make a dish that can’t be done banquet-style for a large group? We want to eat what the chef cooks.] While AZ said that some pursue authenticity to the ends of insanity, and I get that, the reason we’re only doing three culinary demos this year is because the food is typically prepared poorly (exception, Kevin Dundon and some WDW chefs who bring their own staff to oversee the cooking).

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 09

1 oz scoop of rice, 2 mussels, 1 large shrimp

The rice was more like a risotto than a paella. Undercooked in the center of the grains and mushy on the outside. None of that crispy goodness from a paella. Andrew Zimmern said that a paella should have a nice crusty crunchy exterior and a smooth creamy texture in the center. Maybe we only got “middles” ha ha ha.

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 10

wild shrimp cooked with the head on for more flavor

The shrimp was flavorful. It was difficult to remove the shell. I suspect that’s because they were cooked and kept warm… that can make the shrimp shell stick to the meat (speaking from past experience).

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 13

mussels were well done

The mussels had a slight smoky flavor, I believe that Andrew said they were steamed in a chorizo broth. This chorizo is Spanish (dried and not very spicy) not Mexican (fresh and spicy). There wasn’t a lot of chorizo flavor in the rice part of this dish.

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 14

demonstrating how to devein a shrimp – ours weren’t deveined but they were okay, the little black stripe in my shrimp doesn’t freak me out

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 15

here you can seen the chorizo and crab

Andrew Zimmern CD 141011 - 16

a good view of everything …

Some parting wisdom (and I mean that sincerely)… Andrew Zimmern said that when you’re looking for places to eat… Go to the place with

  • lines and happy faces
  • good smells
  • happy customers
  • and look at the plates

“Hot food hot, cold food cold. Connect with people and food.”

Thank you Chef Zimmern. We enjoyed you.

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.