20th Annual Chef’s Gala is May 19 at Epcot

Written By Scott Joseph On April 23, 2012

Chefs-Gala-2012-Header-STD2Chef’s Gala, one of the premier food and wine fundraising events of the year, will be May 19, 2012, at Epcot’s World Showplace. This is the 20th annual Chef’s Gala, benefitting Heart of Florida United Way.

There are a few things that distinguish Chef’s Gala as a unique event. First, even though it is held inside Epcot, you don’t have to purchase a ticket to the theme park in order to attend (unlike Epcot’s own International Food and Wine Festival in the fall). Instead, attendees meet at a designated spot in Epcot’s parking lot and board buses that take them to the World Showplace via the backstage area of Epcot. It’s a rare glimpse of behind the scenes that few ever get to see.

More important, though, is the stellar array of participating chefs, each one trying to outdo the other. This year’s lineup includes Chef’s Table at the Edgewater; Bull & Bear from the Waldorf Astoria; Primo by Melissa Kelly; Rangetsu of Tokyo; Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion; Napa at the Peabody; and 4Rivers Sweet Shop. They’ll be joining some of Walt Disney World’s finest, including the chefs from Flying Fish Cafe, Jiko, Artist Point, California Grill, Citricos and others. Click here for a list of all participating restaurants and the dishes they have planned.

I attended a media preview at Primo recently and got a taste of what some of the chefs have planned. Carlos Pereira, sous chef at Bull & Bear, served sous vide veal tenderloin with potato pave, apple demi and apple chips. John Greene, the chef at the new Graze Restaurant at Harmony Golf Preserve, offered Palmetto Creek smoked pork with balsamic reduction, sweet potato and smoked gouda hash.

Cooking on his home turf, Gilberto Ramirez of Primo prepared Florida octopus braised in red wine with heirloom potatoes and greens from Primo’s garden. For dessert, Deran Lanpher, pastry chef for Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club, whipped up some caramel milk chocolate gelato with hazelnut sponge and caramel vanilla espuma. It was all wonderful, but I noticed several people going back for seconds on the octopus.

Individual tickets are $225 but couples are $400, so if you’re a single, find someone to buddy up with for savings. Proceeds from Chef’s Gala support United Way funded programs that provide shelter, food and other basic necessities to Central Floridians in desperate need, so I don’t want to hear any noise about the cost of tickets — this is a good cause. Click this link to the Chef’s Gala website for tickets and more information.

The event is Saturday, May 19, 2012, and begins with a martini reception and silent auction at 6:45 p.m. Also, you should know that Chef’s Gala is kind of a classy event, so plan on getting a little dressed up (no tuxes, but you won’t be overdressed if you wear a suit, guys).


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