Friday, November 2, 2012

Food Friday: Review of Food & Wine's "Scent" Seminar

I know many of us have a "Bucket List", and some of us even have a "Disney Bucket List"... I know I do! I got to cross off one of the things on my list on my last visit! I was able to attend the "Scent" seminar during this years Food & Wine Festival. What... you've never heard of this? Well, maybe that's because this is only the second year that it's been offered and it's only offered once during the entire Festival! (So, ok, the "Party for the Senses" is still on my "List", but at only $14.00, in my opinion, this experience is one of the best values being offered during the Food & Wine Festival, and was much easier to "cross off" the list at that price! Not to mention more limited in availability!)

What is a "Scent" seminar or dinner? I'm glad you asked! Chandler Burr is the man behind this event. He was the New York Times perfume critic from 2006-2010, and is the Director and Curator of the Center of Olfactory Art at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. According to his website: "Scent Dinners are the combination of fine dining with a stimulating interactive master class in scent & perfume, two parallel dinners, one olfactory and invisible, the other gustatory and edible. For my olfactory dinner, with each course I have guests enjoy professional-grade gourmand perfumery raw materials... Teaming with the chef we generate a menu that reflects in each of his culinary, edible courses with the gourmand perfumes I've used in my olfactory dinner. A Scent Dinner is the intersection of fragrance and fine dining."

Ok, that's all to say that basically, the raw materials that were used in a perfume are passed around on blotters for everyone to enjoy and to guess what the ingredient is and then those same ingredients are used in cooking the various courses of a dinner. In our case, it was a three course tasting meal based on the ingredients used in three beautiful perfumes by Guerlain. The last blotter passed around for each course was the actual perfume so we could see how all the scents came together in the perfume. With each scent there was a discussion about whether it was a natural or synthetic scent, its origins and how that scent is used in either dining and/or perfumes. Everyone had a lot of fun experiencing the scent and trying to guess what it was, and it encouraged a lot of fun interactions and side discussions at our table. There were also many fun and interesting facts along the way. Did you know that 95% of your "taste" experience is actually smell? Or that smell is the first sense we develop?

          Chef Matt Maslowski and Chandler Burr

Epcot's Chef Matt Maslowski was the chef that created our amazing meal. It was amazing not only because of the creativity and flavors, but because he was only given the "scent ingredients" less than two weeks before the seminar. We started out with some Martini prosecco which went with all three courses. Our first course was based on Ambre Nargule by Hermes and was "Epcot's The Land" Black Bass which was braised with tonka and vanilla beans, topped with a micro greens salad with a toasted sesame and honey vinaigrette all finished with cinnamon dust.

Fish Course and the blotters of the scents used to create it.

The second course was based on Terre D'Hermes. It was slow roasted pork tenderloin infused with pink and black peppercorn and juniper with an apple parsnip puree with essence of cardamom and vanilla.

                                Entree Course

Our last course was based on Unjardin En Mediterranee. For dessert we were treated to a citrus sponge cake with lemon, lime and orange and carrot sorbet on top of a coconut meringue with green fig compote.

                           Three Course Dessert

Chandler Burr with the three perfumes that our dinner was based on.

One interesting thing that was brought out about perfumes was how they are marketed as either feminine or masculine, and that we really should just wear whatever we like and what smells good on us and not pay attention to whether they are supposed to be for a man or woman. 

This was really a one of a kind and unique experience; and the friend that I attended with and I not only thoroughly enjoyed it, but are still talking about it weeks later. There is only seating for about 125 people at these seminars, and it showed sold out online. We took a chance and asked at the desk that morning and were fortunate enough to get same-day tickets! Let me know if you think you'd like to try to attend this seminar next year and what's on YOUR Disney Bucket List!

If you're interested, for more information go to:

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