Every once in a while nostalgia hits. Hard.
I am only twenty, but the past two years occasionally make me feel as though I’ve lived centuries.
The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is going on at Disney World right now. I spent the last two years working this event and having an absolute blast. Part of the magic as a Cast Member was cooking like mad while also conversing with Guests. It was incredible.
To not be involved in the 20th anniversary this year is, admittedly, a little painful. Part of me wishes I could end my nights cleaning grease traps, singing along to Illuminations: Reflections of Earth alongside culinary Cast Members who felt like family.
But, I’m a different person than I was back then.
Instead of running away from sad, sentimental emotions like I tend to do, I decided to spend my morning going through my old culinary school notebooks. I found myself reading over a refresher course of inspirational quotes from chef instructors, quite a few time/temp stipulations I had forgotten and plenty of old recipes that brought back a desire to cook everything with butter.
I will be honest right now. Listening to the Illuminations soundtrack may have (almost) made me teary.
I’m not on the grill this year searing skewers like a madwoman. I won’t be there to dance around the world at 2:00 am on Wine and Dine Half Marathon night.
(If you’re madly curious about my subpar writing skills and over-the-top F&W enthusiasm, my old blog is still up!)
It feels as though the Food and Wine Festival, in a way, was my first foodie love. I knew I wanted to cook, I knew I wanted to learn, I knew I wanted to be put through the wringer. But until I had done it — run the culinary gauntlet — I didn’t realize just how much of a fire it would light within me.
I no longer push a hot metal food cart through throngs of tourists. I plate sleek dishes at a fine dining restaurant thousands of miles away from Epcot.
Everything I learned about the kitchen was based out of this singular event. It was my first grommet job, the first time I burned my hands on a hot oven, the first time I learned to yell, “Heard!” above the noise.
I’m not there anymore. But I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Epcot, particularly Germany and Norway.
I can’t be there this year. I don’t want to live life in the past, all sick over the great times I once had. I do, however, want to remember where my love of the food industry was born. Epcot Food and Wine, you were my first kitchen love. Cheers to old times, and happy 20th!