A Thrill Ride for my Taste Buds!

June 14, 2009, 6:49 PM · This past Friday, I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in a Food Network Event at Six Flags Great America.

While nobody was exactly sure what was taking place in Southwest Territory, we all found out that we were the special guests on a Theme Park edition of Dinner Impossible hosted (and prepared) by Chef Robert Irvine. His challenge was to make a buffet style dinner for 250 Great America guests using ingredients found in the park, especially ingredients that are a staple of the theme park industry such as hamburgers, hotdogs, and, Great America’s claim to fame, funnel cakes!

Robert Irvine

Irvine was running around a ton between 6 and 7, but made his deadline (7pm) before the Mission Bells of Southwest Territory rang by 30 seconds. Anyway, the food was quite interesting and very sweet for the most part. I tried to take a little of everything as seen in the picture below (I know it’s a lot of food!)

My plate

Here is what was on the menu:
Hot Dog Sticks
Asian Style Maryak Potatoes with Ginger Gelato and Deep Fried Ribs
Jerk Chicken in a Waffle Cone
Seafood Hotdogs in Citrus Chutney
BBQ Beef Brisket in Funnel Cake
Seared Scallop Sandwich with Shelled Brie and Apple Sage Cotton Candy
Turkey Legs Osso Bucco
Square Burger Roller Coaster Rueben
Tornado Popcorn Cake and Melba

For the most part, the food was actually pretty good, but some stuff, like the Seafood Hotdogs and the Seared Scallops were a little too sweet and weird. The one dish that surprised me was the Beef Brisket in the Funnel Cake and the dish that I enjoyed the most was the Jerk Chicken in a Waffle Cone. The ingredients that made me wonder where they were from were the seafood. Actually, I found out that it’s from Hurricane Harbor, their Water Park and Key Lime Cove, their new official resort. However, the people at my table were surprised that they did not have him use pretzels, Lemon Ice, and their famous Apple Turnovers. All in all, the Dinner Impossible was a success! As my friend Taleb Masri said, “It was a thrill ride for my taste buds!” So make sure to check out this episode which should be airing late September.

The buffet

I would also like to thank Terri, the manager in charge of the event for letting my group when I was told that I was too late to participate. I RSVP to this event and warned them that it would be hard for me to get there in Chicago Rush hour traffic between the registration of 2-5, but I would be there before the MUST BE SEATED at 6:30. If SFGA does this again, they need to get nicer people for that front area and hold seating for the people that were kind enough to RSVP. I got in so crisis avoided, but I just wanted to thank Terri again who was the bright spot on poor attitude workers.

Replies (13)

June 14, 2009 at 7:33 PM · I'm really sorry and I will try not to make this post offend anyone however I am really disturbed by this event and scene. Where are the fruit and vegetables? Was it only meat? Not being from the US, I am quite frightened that this can happen. I travel regularly between Australia, Asia and Europe and what disturbs me is the quality of this food and the size of every person in that photo. I'm not picking on people's size however it really was an eye-opener in that picture. When I was in the US last year at the theme parks, I really couldn't stomach the food. I won't say what happened medically to me but it wasn't pretty! I really urge everyone to travel to Europe or Asia and try the real Italian, Chinese or Thai cuisines with the fresh vegetables and lots of flavour! It's just so different and it would be actually cheaper for them to prepare! In DisneyWorld last year, I tried 3 different flavoured pizzas with a blindfold and couldn't tell the difference. To be honest, the food in those parks made me cut my stay from 2 weeks to 1 week because I just had to leave the area to get my internal system working again. I was really disappointed that food could actually drive me away. When I return next time, I simply won't be able to stay onsite for that reason. Convenient, yes but I felt so lazy and crap without certain nutrients. People might say, stay somewhere else then and the answer is I will be, but nothing will change if no-one says anything :P Thanks for reading everyone :) I didn't want to offend, but just to show, no-where else in the world quite does it like the theme parks there. I mean, I wouldn't have even used the grease from the food on my car let alone my stomach :P It's terrible teaching kids that is food. Travel and you'll find it's not. Theme Park chefs shouldn't be so ignorant. People overseas laugh at what is served there. Do people actually realise that? I wish I could help!
June 14, 2009 at 8:23 PM · Woah, not what I was expecting.

While it is difficult to see in the picture, there was a salad and was fresh fruit dessert, but I am sorry if I omitted them in the description since they were not theme park food with a "twist".

While you are right that Theme Park food is not great, I consider myself lucky that I have ACTUALLY been overseas to Europe and, in paticular, Disneyland Paris. The food at DLP was the same "junk" that you can find at WDW.

While we are on this subject, you are not going to get very far on this site slamming the food quality at WDW. I am half Italian, from Chicago, and, once again, been to Italy and Tutto Italiano and Tony's is authentic and pretty good. Not to mention all the resorts with Victoria and Albert's, Yachttsman, and Jiko to name a few!

I guess you really didn't do your homework on theme parks if you cut your vacation short due to the food at Disney World.

Your main point is correct: The food does look a little gross and SFGA is not top of the theme park food list, but the whole point of the contest was to make dishes using theme park foods.

And there are fat people in Australia and around the world too! Sorry if I offended you, but I think you took it a bit too far.

June 14, 2009 at 8:45 PM · Daniel... dude... it's a Food Network show. That's not a place one tunes to see fine or healthy dining. (It used to be, long ago, but now Food Network's mostly about appealing to the fast-food masses. A Six Flags show was only a matter of time.)

Anyway, if one wants higher-quality theme park food, I suggest reading Scott Joseph's recent restaurant reviews, linked to from various blog posts on the site over the past month.

June 14, 2009 at 9:05 PM · Speaking of Food Network, it has expanded to popular foods as well now to make it appeal to everybody. They have done fine shows about Universal, Disney, and, their favorite, Dollywood!

But anyway, the food was good, but it was obvious that it was not good for you. I would rather have this food than what they usually have.

June 14, 2009 at 9:16 PM · I do wish to apologise for any offence caused. I wasn't intending any and do unreservedly apologise. I am just disturbed that they promote this kind of thing :P and is only my stupid opinion hehe. I completely agree that the food in Disneyland Paris is absolute rubbish :P One thing I am happy to disagree on is the authenticity of the Italian food - I've lived in Italy for the past 5 years and it just can't compare to the food at Tutto Italiano. But I hope we can agree to disagree on that :) I completely agree that Australia also has an enlarged population and I am embarrassed for this because we only have ourselves to blame, but I just like to look at the majority of Asian and European cultures with wonderful low rates of heart disease, long lifespans and would rather this post be about awareness, to learn from them and bring these lessons to children in our world's theme parks and try and change some of the attitudes because it's really not difficult to achieve :) Again, thank you for your post and reply, it's great to get different opinions! and I appreciate your honesty and sincerity :)
June 14, 2009 at 9:57 PM · LOL, no hard feelings :)

But in all honesty, SFGA does not have that great of food.

But you bring up an excellent point in quality you would find in theme parks. More or less, the standard faire is pretty bad no matter where you go. However, Disney (and to an extent Universal) does have some fine resturants such as Mythos, the Brown Derby, most of EPCOT, etc. The one theme park that seems to have some good food for counter service (fast food) is Animal Kingdom. Maybe its just me!

Like mentioned, Food Network really likes the food from Dollywood.

June 15, 2009 at 3:02 AM · I dunno about all the other stuff being discussed, but personally I thought the food looked like a lot of fun, and far superior to anything I have ever seen or had at a Six Flags park. Thanks Anthony for the report and review, I will definitely keep an eye out for the Food Network Special if only so I can say "I knew him when..." if you appear on camera! ;)
June 15, 2009 at 4:42 AM · Who goes to an amusement park for the food anyway? :) And from my memories of going to NO Coaster Cons in January in Chicagoland, many ACErs were quite happy to admit that they loved food almost as much as roller coasters. Just have to stay small enough to fit in them!
June 15, 2009 at 6:18 PM · I absolutely LOVE Dinner: Impossible, so I'll definitely make sure to try to catch that episode in Sept. I mean, good TV AND theme park food?? :) Wonder if Anthony will make any camera time?? :)
June 15, 2009 at 7:36 PM · I was also at this event. It was fun watching the food network crew run around the park while being taped as i went on some rides. Im looking forward to seeing the shoe on tv in the future.
It was a good event to attend, as for the food I didnt like it that much, but being a meat and potato's kind of guy it wasnt meant for people like me who like plain/ordinary food.
I would prefer old school firehouse pizza(not the crap we have now) and cheese fries.

The worst part of the day is the night was very busy with way too long lines for coasters after dark.

June 17, 2009 at 4:51 AM · Every time I get tempted to wander off my diet I take a good long look at that photo of that plate of (alleged) food. I immediately eat three stalks of celery and go for a mile run.
June 19, 2009 at 3:57 PM · I love eating junk food when visiting a theme park.I am not there to get healthy.I am there to enjoy myself.Vacations are not the time for dieting.My only problem with park food is that there is little but deep fried food and the taste is usually not worth remembering.That,plus the ridiculous prices.
June 19, 2009 at 5:28 PM · I agree with Allan Birmantas's comments
Concessionaires must cater to the majority taste otherwise they will go broke and have awful lot of rotting garden salad to dispose of at the end of each day!

The quality of the frying medium is the major concern

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