Mickey Mouse Takes Bite Out of Big Apple

Disney World's cuisine is all grown up.

Close to a dozen chefs and sommeliers from Walt Disney World descended on New York last week, where they put their talents on display at the famous James Beard House in Greenwich Village. The 5-course meal with matching wines was aimed at convincing food-jaded New Yorkers that the signature restaurants at Orlando's Walt Disney World can provide cuisine at a level on par with that found in the Big Apple.

Guests packed the West 12th Street townhouse where Beard lived until his death in 1985 to sample such dishes as Chef John State's Chilled Beet Soup with Meyer Lemon Crème Fraîche, Dungeness Crab and Sweet Shrimp, a harmonious series of sweet-tart flavors and lush textures. State, who worked at Lark Creek Inn, is now at the

 California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort
California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort. His colleague from Flying Fish Café at Disney's Boardwalk Resort, Jens Dahlmann, served up a sinfully rich Confit Salmon with Leek Jus, Potato Espuma and Fresh Périgord Truffles. "Coming back to New York is great," said Dahlmann, a German-born chef who once worked at Le Cirque 2000. "There's wonderful energy here."

Other courses included an even richer Niman Ranch Beef and Kobe Short Ribs with a Potato Crouton and Oxtail Jus from Scott Hunnel, chef at Victoria and Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, an inspired cheese course from Chef Anette Grecchi Gray of Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Resort and a Tanzanie Dark Chocolate Napoleon with Tangerine-Caramel Sauce from Erich Herbitschek, master pastry chef of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Sommeliers Bridget Sherren (California Grill) and Robert Dunham (Flying Fish Café) selected wines that paired harmoniously with each course, including a seductively silky Trapet 2002 Gevrey-Chambertin Ostrea with the salmon.

In addition to preparing an elaborate meal on "foreign" turf, the group took full advantage of their time in New York, with members visiting some of the City's culinary destinations—all in the name of research. Per Se, Modern and Craft received raves from the Disney chefs and sommeliers.

For more information on the James Beard Foundation, visit http://www.jamesbeard.org

For more information on Walt Disney World dining, visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com

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