The Epcot International Festival of the Arts brings in amazingly talented artists each year, and this year is proving to be just as amazing. If you’re planning a visit to Epcot during the Festival, check your daily guide for candy artisan Chef Wenbo Zhang. Chef Zhang is known for his intricate and delicate candies and puts on a spectacular show demonstrating his creations.
Chef Zhang is visiting Epcot from the Henan Province in China to perform at this year’s Festival. Known for his skills in traditional Chinese edible folk art of Sugar Painting and handcrafting Dragon’s Beard Candy, you won’t want to miss his presentations. Both types of sugar arts date back thousands of years. The skills and expertise to master these creations are passed down from generation to generation and through apprenticeships.
To create a Sugar Painting, Chef Zhang uses a small ladle and drizzles melted sugar to “paint” the shape of an animal onto a marble slab. Before the sugar hardens completely, a stick is placed in the sugar turning it into a lollipop masterpiece.
Creating Dragon’s Beard Candy is a meticulous process using small batches of corn syrup, which are boiled, cooled, and then carefully stretched, which creates hundreds of thin strands. The strands are then wrapped around a variety of fillings such as coconut shavings, sesame seeds, or chocolate. During the Festival Chef Wang will be using crushed peanuts and walnuts.
The history of the Dragon’s Beard Candy is quite fascinating. Dating back to the Han Dynasty, legend has it an imperial chef “performed” for the emperor by making this new candy. During the performance, the strands of the candy reminded the emperor of a dragon’s beard, which was the symbol of the emperor. The sweet treats were restricted only to the ruling class.
On select days throughout the International Festival of the Arts, Chef Zhang will be demonstrating the Dragon’s Beard Candy. Only small batches of the Dragon’s Beard Candy can be created at a time, so quantities will be limited. Check your Festival Times Guide for demonstration times. Because of the time-consuming preparation needed to create this one of a kind treats, demonstrations will be on alternating days.
Don’t miss out on the other extremely talented artists that will be creating masterpieces during the International Festival of the Arts, including culinary, visual, and performing arts. Some performing sets are very short, so keep your Times Guide handy. You may need to plan for multiple days at Epcot to take in multiple events. What do you most look forward to during the Festival? Are you a foodie, or looking to enjoy the performing arts? Will this be your first visit, or do you plan your trips yearly around the Festival of the Arts?
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