Inside look at the recipe and bacon first round competitions at the World Food Championships

It was an early morning of packing up and moving from Parc Soleil in Orlando to Westgate Resorts Town Center Resort & Spa in Kissimmee. The grounds at Westgate Town Center Resort are enormous. There are many room types available, from one-bedroom studios to 5-bedroom villas to accommodate your party. There are lots of activities to keep you busy in the resort: softball, fitness center, shuffleboard, soccer, playground, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, tennis, Ship Wreck Island Water Park, miniature golf course, pools, movie theater, swan-shaped paddle boats, train stops to get you around the resort, shuttles for theme parks, and pavilion that includes Cordovano Joe’s Authentic New York Style Pizza, Drafts Sports Bar & Grill, Joe’s Marketplace & Deli, Mission Control Game Room, and coffee shop serving Starbucks®. This resort is also pet-friendly so bring your fur babies with you.

The studio (up to 590 sq. ft.) includes a double bed, a queen sleeper sofa in the living area, kitchenette with small dinette, microwave, and refrigerator, and 27-inch color TV with DVD player. The interior décor is a little dated with a Floridian seaside 80’s motif with light wood panel furniture, tile floors, and stark white kitchenette. The views vary due to the multiple number of buildings on the property. The 5500 building has a nice view of a lake from the living room area (these rooms do not have a patio, but have a slider so you can enjoy the breeze) and view of Swan Lake from the bedroom. The bedroom is quite small for a couple to comfortably sleep in. If you are traveling with children, the bedroom would be quite spacious. Parents might want to utilize the queen sleeper sofa for more space and comfort. The bathroom has a spacious Jacuzzi tub. There is a shower as part of the tub. Just watch for water on the floor as the curtain does not cover the shower completely. For the creature comforts of home, the one-bedroom deluxe villa would be the best choice for next time.

After checking in, it was shuttle bound to Celebration to catch the opening round of the Recipe Competition. Two competitors from Southern California were competing and wanted to catch all of the action. The first round was a structured round where the competitors needed to use corn in their recipe. The second round was where the competitor could showcase their talents in a recipe that they may have won with in a prior competition.

Alethia Shih, a.k.a. Wallflour Girl, hails from Southern California. She is a blogger, baker, English grad student, and loves anything that has to do with children’s literature. She won her golden ticket to compete at the World Food Championships from the Berry Blast-off Recipe Contest at the 2015 California Strawberry Festival. Alethia’s structured dish was a Japanese Soufflé Cheesecake with Corn Crème Anglaise. It was a light Japanese-style cheesecake accompanied by a crème anglaise made with corn and infused with bourbon and cinnamon. She made her winning signature dish from the California Strawberry Festival, Steamed Coconut Poke Cake with Strawberry Sauce. It is a steamed Chinese egg cake soaked with coconut and sweetened condensed milk and served with a sweet & tart strawberry sauce and creamy coconut whipped cream. Alethia scored 86.375 (signature) and 90.5 (structured), placing her 5th. She will go on to the next round, Top 10 Recipe Competition. Stay tuned!

Courtesy of World Food Championships
Jodi Taffel, a.k.a. The Fabulous Bacon Babe, also hails from Southern California and is a returning competitor to the World Food Championships after placing in the 2013 Top 10 Bacon Competition. She is an actor, playing Brenda, The Meatball Lady, on the Disney Channel’s SHAKE IT UP and also starred on the critically acclaimed web series, THE GALLERY. During her down times between shoots, she loves to cook, especially with BACON! Her signature dish was Shakshuka with Deep Fried Garlic, which also won the Great Garlic Cook-Off at the 2015 Gilroy Garlic Festival. Jodi scored 85.375 (signature) and 80.75 (structured), placing her 12th.

It was time to head back to Westgate to rest the feet and to refuel the bodies with energy. The kitchenette was just right for reheating leftovers for lunch. Putting the feet up was uplifting as standing and walking around on concrete all day can wear them out pretty quickly.

It was then back to Celebration to judge the Bacon Competition sponsored by Wright Brand Bacon. No photography or note-taking was allowed during the judging process, but the judges had some beautiful creations and tasty bites to judge from. The author did meet a fellow blogger, Rebecka Evans of At Home With Rebecka, during the Food Fight Write! Blogger Summit who was competing. You can follow her journey through photos on OC Food Diva’s Facebook page. Rebecka’s signature dish was Dutch Apple Baby with Blackberry Hoisin Bacon. She described it as “Dutch apple baby meets its best companion with blackberry hoisin bacon, creating the perfect sweet and savory combination. The delicate pancake is married gently to the bacon with just a hint of hoisin and a touch of blackberry to balance out the flavors… simply delicious.” Her structured dish was Bacon Shrimp Spiral Dumplings with Cheesy Peas & Bacon. Rebecka said, “This recipe captures all the goodness of Southern comfort food with a few twists and turns. Applewood smoked, apricot candy bacon, wrapped around jumbo shrimp and dressed with a spiral of puff pastry to form a dumpling with layers of tasty flavors. The crisp, spiral pastry, and sweet-savory bacon, combine beautifully with the succulent shrimp, to create the perfect bite. The tasty dumpling rests on a side dish of cheesy green peas and bacon, to facilitate the perfectly balanced meal. For the final touch, a sweet apricot jezebel sauce brings sweet-heat, with a drizzle of balsamic reduction to add rich acidity.” She scored 91.75 (signature) and 84.5 (structured) and placed 8th. She went on to the Top 10 Bacon Competition and scored 86.75 and placed 4th. Congrats, Rebecka! 

With the World Food Championships competition day 1 coming to a close, it was time to head back to Westgate and get ready for dinner. Roy’s Orlando is a bustling location on Sand Lake Road’s restaurant row. The atmosphere is lively with signature exhibition kitchen.

Crispy Flash Fried Oysters & Melted Brie served with garlic spinach and yuzu beurre blanc. Imagine a shell-less Oysters Rockefeller. The oysters are deep-fried for a crispy texture. The spinach adds a bright green flavor. The brie elevates the flavor with a creamy luscious flavor and sensual texture. Rating: 4.3/5

Courtesy of Roy's Restaurants
Hawaiian Martini is Maui pineapple drenched in SKYY vodka, Soli Vanil, and Malibu coconut rum. The cocktail has a strong coconut flavor and essence. It stays true with tropical flavor, but would love more pineapple flavor brought to the forefront. Rating: 4/5

Grilled Smoked 14 oz. Char Siu Pork Chop is served with crispy onions rings and Asian pork au jus. It is grilled to perfection (medium in this case with slight pink center). The pork is juicy from the sous vide preparation technique. The grill imparts good char flavor. The char siu flavor could be pumped up a notch. If marinated, the red color would be a great presentation, especially when sliced to reveal the white pork meat inside, like slicing komoboko. The snap peas are crispy and sweet. Rating: 4.5/5

Courtesy of Roy's Restaurants
Alaea Salt Crusted Bone-in Ribeye is served with peppercorn shoyu brandy sauce and truffled bacon mac & cheese. The ribeye is grilled to perfection (medium rare in this case). It is tender and juicy. The sauce imparts the proper amount of salt to pop the beefy flavor from the steak. The truffled mac & cheese entices you with the aromatic truffle. The bacon bits add just the right amount of salty smoky flavor to the mix. Rating: 4.8/5

Another day of World Food Championships competitions ahead. Stay tuned!

To see more photos, please visit OC Food Diva’s Facebook page.

For more information:
Celebration, FL

7700 Westgate Boulevard
Kissimmee, FL 34747

7760 West Sand Lake Road
Orlando, FL 32819, United States

Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato