American Iron Chef and celebrity restaurateur known for “dynamic American” cuisine Geoffrey Zakarian is an Epcot International Food & Wine Festival newbie. Zakarian brings his modern flair to the Festival Center Sunday, giving you two opportunities to see this James Beard and Michelin Star-award winner.
I chatted with Chef before his first visit, not only to the Festival, but to Walt Disney World Resort.
Q: What are you looking most forward to at the Festival?
A: The Party for the Senses celebration at Epcot is on my schedule for Saturday night – let the eating and drinking festivities begin! It’s a Yelloween Masquerade in honor of Halloween. Yellow and black dress code …. thinking about what I am going to pack!
Q: What are you looking most forward to at Walt Disney World Resort?
A: Honestly, I cannot wait to walk through all of the countries trying each cuisine (in Epcot). From what all my chef friends tell me, everything is so incredibly authentic at each. I have heard that the candy apples at Karamell-Küche are not to be missed, The “Hibachi” Experience at Japan is quite impressive and the Living with the Land tour is eye opening in terms of farming practices. I most probably will take a peek into the Paul Bocuse namesake restaurant, Monsieur Paul, to pay homage and as I will need a good caffeine pick me up, I will be stopping at the Joy of Tea in China. Also my kids tell me (in Magic Kingdom Park) at the Beast’s castle, I will have to “Try the grey stuff – It’s delicious”.
Q: What can guests look forward to with your presentation?
A: I am teaching a Huevos Rancheros, a delicious Mexican egg dish, from my cookbook, “My Perfect Pantry,” as it is one of our most popular breakfast items across all of my restaurants. People absolutely love it. It is easy to make at home, and I am looking forward to showing people how they can serve this up in their own kitchens. I really enjoy live demonstrations and a Q&A because nothing is better to me than helping people with their culinary questions. There are so many myths out there with cooking and getting answers to eager cooks is extremely fulfilling!
Q: Do you have a favorite Disney memory or story?
A: As I have never been to the parks yet, I am looking forward to creating that favorite memory on this trip. I do hold Mickey close to my heart, though. My dad was an orchestra conductor, and as a treat, I was able to watch the original “Fantasia.” The animation and music created such an a lasting impression – I was riveted.
You can catch Chef Zakarian on Sunday at the Festival Center during his “What’s Cooking With…” event from 9:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Call (407) 939-3378 to reserve your seat. Chef will also sign his book, “My Perfect Pantry” on Sunday at the Festival Center from 11:00 a.m. to noon.