The Epcot Food & Wine Festival, Hot Sauce & Happily Ever After

We have always thought we should “Go Big Or Go Home” with our start-up food business, but our recent Disney experience as taken that idea to the next level!

On a late Saturday night, I decided to try to mix my favorite passions: Disney and Food. The thought occurred to me that Epcot has their Food and Wine festival coming up in October and since our favorite place to visit (of all of the Disney Parks) is Epcot, what could be better?

I started looking for information on the Food and Wine festival and what do I come across? The website for the visiting chefs and executives discussing involvement and how to become sponsors or even be a part of it. I was excited! I KNEW immediately that I HAD to get more information. So I started off with a very nice email.

We are a food vendor in Washington state and were wondering how your food partners are determined.

We would be very interested in applying for a spot in either this year or next year’s Food and Wine Festival.

Please feel free to contact us at 206-xxx-xxxx or @

Thank you and we look forward from hearing from you!

Going off to bed that night, I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t hear from Disney, and I should write it off as a cool thing to try and forget it.

Apparently, someone else thought differently.

I got up the next morning and while checking my email, I found this:

Dear Dennis,
Thank you for the inquiry, and for the most part we are set for this year. Although we may have some opportunities for potential sponsorship for some of our events. This sponsorship would include donated product and your company would get recognition in our menu for that specific event. We also have opportunities for companies to host our After Party which is a exclusive event for chefs and wineries that participated in events over the week. Our festival this year is from October 1 to November 14.

If this year does not work out, I am starting to discuss 2011 opportunities as well. We could set up a conference call in the beginning of August.
Thank you again!

As you can imagine, I was beside myself with excitement! Not only had I heard back from Disney, but they didn’t just pat me on the head and send me on my way!

After several other emails and a few phone calls, I had established that I was talking to none other than Marianne Hunnel – the Chef in charge of Culinary Events! She not only was interested in trying out our hot sauce, but she was willing to put it in the gratuity bags for all 400 of the visiting chefs and executives.

So, I shipped a quick 2 cases off to her immediately for tasting and getting feedback (I had no idea at the time that apparently her husband is the Executive Chef at the only 5 diamond rated restaurant in central Florida – Victoria & Albert’s, a Disney restaurant!).

When I contacted her a few weeks later, she said, “All that have tasted the hot sauce love it, including me!!!”

I just about passed out right then and there.

What an exciting turn of events!

The only thing left was to try to figure out how to get 800 little glass bottles to Florida cheaply, quickly and safely. None of those words normally applies to glass when shipping.

However, we rent a mailbox at our local UPS store, and while in there one day, I asked the nice ladies there about it.

Their answer? Bring it on down! We do that kind of thing all the time!

So, I did.

And we shipped 800 bottles of sauce this very morning to Epcot.

What an amazing trip.

I still don’t know how this story ends, but I’d bet it ends with “Happily Ever After.”

By Dennis O’Shields (Uncle Dennis)

Editor’s note: Read about Uncle Dennis’ Foods in the Covington Reporter.

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