Julia Child's Historic Connection To Disney's Food And Wine Festival

The EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival is set to begin on July 27. Fans of global cuisine will have nearly four months to try out this year's amazing offerings before it closes on November 18. Dishes and drinks from six continents will be showcased at the festival along with other fun events, such as the Eat to Beat Concert Series. And Disney devotees and fromage lovers will also appreciate this year's "Ratatouille"-themed cheese-tasting challenge.

The festival has grown tremendously since its debut in 1996. At the start, it only lasted 30 days as a means to attract visitors to Walt Disney World during slower times. But it wasn't long after the festival's launch that it attracted all sorts of top chefs and food personalities. Julia Child was one of the first culinary icons who made her way to Florida. Many chefs, such as Alex Guarnaschelli, Richard Blais, and Carla Hall, have since followed in Child's footsteps.

Julia Child attended a special charity gala

Julia Child visited the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival in 1997 as a guest of honor for a charity gala that raised funds to support organizations dedicated to battling hunger. Chef Marianne Hunnel had worked at the event and got a chance to meet Child. She fondly remembered her encounter with the legendary chef, telling D23, "She was very jovial. I was so inspired to meet and talk with her." Hunnel was especially impressed with Child's energy and enthusiasm, considering that Child was in her 80s by this time. 

Child wasn't the only famous food personality at the fundraiser; she was joined by a veritable all-star team of accomplished chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Nobu Matsuhisa, and Eric Ripert. Three other famous food stars — Paul Bocuse, Roger Vergé, and Gaston LeNôtre — were also there, but they were already fans of the place after opening their own restaurant, Les Chefs de France, at EPCOT in 1982.