A beautiful day emerged in Orlando, FL as the clouds parted to reveal the sunrise. A short drive from Orlando is the Disney planned community of Celebration, FL. It was established in 1994. Although, Disney sold this community to Lexin Capital in 2004, it still has that Disney look as if built for a Disney movie complete with post office, school, shops, restaurants, and about 2,500 picturesque homes with a New Urban design.
Celebration’s Market Street serves as the “Main Street U.S.A.” lined with shops and restaurants and center stage for the Kenmore Kitchen Arena at the World Food Championships (WFC). Crews set up a steel-framed canopy along the length of the street to house 50 kitchen stations to be used for all of the competitions, except barbeque. One of the restaurants along Market Street, Thai Thani, housed the Food Fight Write! Bloggers’ Summit to start and then became the judges’ room.
Breakfast started out right with scrambled eggs from The Happy Eggs Co. along with breakfast taco and bagel bar. The Happy Eggs Co. eggs are so orange. A lot of the bloggers thought cheddar cheese was added but it was just the color of the yolks shining through. A high protein breakfast was definitely in order to keep the brain functioning throughout the long day ahead – scrambled eggs topped with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and salsa along with a small helping of red skillet potatoes. While eating breakfast, the bloggers also had a chance to get a professional headshot done by WFC photographers in their own attire or suited up in a WFC chef coat.
The summit started with the introduction of our emcees: Beth Peterson, founder of Yummie Nation, Emily Ellyn, rad retro chef and food competition star, and Mike McCloud, CEO of WFC.
The Happy Egg Co., a sponsor of WFC, talked about their product, the only free range egg brand that is American Humane CertifiedTM. This means each farm has 5 acres of green pasture for the hens to run, jump, flap, and play outdoors every day – 21.8 square feet per hen. This is awesome in comparison to cage free which allots only 10.5 inches by 16.5 inches per hen or caged which allots only 8.5 inches squared per hen. You can also see the difference in the yolk. The Happy Egg Co. eggs have a bright orange yolk compared to a caged egg with a pale yellow yolk. These eggs will also come to the main stage during the Sandwich Competition so stay tuned!
The bloggers took a tour of Market Street to see Kenmore Kitchen Arena in its final setup stages – a street-long, steel-framed canopy to cover all of the kitchen stations in case of rain. It was highly likely that a rain shower or two would happen during WFC in Florida. Mike McCloud talked about his vision and all of the man hours that went into events like these from planning, logistics, man-power, and more. The stage would be set up in front of the beautiful lake in Celebration. To the right of the stage, Swizzle and Sizzle Spots would be setup for cocktail and cooking demonstrations. And to the left of the stage, a tasting village including sponsors and local Kissimmee organizations.
Right before lunch, Mike also unveiled the new position of Cheferee (referee in Kenmore Kitchen Arena to help resolve any disputes during competitions). The bloggers were introduced to the Saucy Mama sauces that were available for the Blogger Challenge along with learning how to grill a steak. A few of the bloggers did not have cooking experience and it was also a great way for the more experienced cooks to get acquainted with the grill that will be in their cooking station. Once the steak was grilled, it became the bloggers lunch along with a salad bar to make the ultimate steak salad.
While the bloggers dined on their steak creations, The Kansas City Steak Company talked about their steaks since they will be used in the Blogger Challenge (filet mignon) and also the Top 10 Sandwich Competition (ribeye). They have been hand-trimming steaks since 1932. The beef is aged 28 days (except filet mignon) for a taste that sets them apart from their competition and anything that you might find in a grocery store. You can definitely taste the difference in the filet mignon. There is almost no marbling but the beef flavor is in the forefront with a tender texture you can cut with a butter knife. After lunch, the bloggers broke into groups and worked on campaigns for The Kansas City Steak Company. The winning team won $1,000!
The conference ended with some commentary from former and future competitors and a taste of My Yard Farm’s local, sustainable, and organic microgreens and tomatoes. They also provided greens for the pantry during the competitions.
After a full day’s conference, it’s always nice to head back to the hotel (or timeshare in this case), put your feet up and relax in the Orlando afternoon sun. The patio on the 1-bedroom suite at Parc Soleil has a table and lounge for enjoying the afternoon sun as it starts to set behind Epcot Center. To the east, the Orlando Eye is in view as well.
No other evening event can take you on a journey back in time quite like Medieval Times. One of nine castles on the North American continent is bestowed upon the providence of Kissimmee in the kingdom of Orlando. Your journey from today to the time of yesteryear begins upon the castle as the drawbridge beckons. Torches are lit to signal a grand event is at hand. Once one of the merry maids confirms you are on the guest list and appoints your knight, you are taken to an instant portrait session with one of the royal family or a handsome knight. Inside the fortress walls lies the grand hall dressed with royal crests, libations, and souvenirs fit for a king or queen.
When the arena is open, guests are invited in and taken to their proper cheering sections of their respective knights. The court entertains the guests with pageantry, horse prancing, jousting, and sword fighting. The guests cheer as the knights battle to the death. There can be only one victorious knight.
The Bill of Fare begins with tomato bisque and warm baked bread. The main course of roasted chicken, sweet buttered corn, and herb-basted potato are served “sans flatware” so feel free to eat with your hands. Pasty of the Castle (apple turnover) is the sweet ending to your feast. Beverages of Pepsi and coffee are included with the fare. Adult libations are also available for purchase. HAZZAH!
The Epcot and Magic Kingdom fireworks signal the end to a long, yet knowledge-filled day. As the eyes grew weary, the handsome black and white knight may just visit you in your dreams.
For more information:
World Food Championships
The Happy Egg Co.
The Kansas City Steak Company
Medieval Times Orlando
4510 West Vine Street
Kissimmee, FL 34746, United States