Cigna Blogger Cook-Off at ESPN Wide World of Sports

 I was invited to attend this event free of charge.  I have no affiliation with CignaWalt Disney World or ESPN Wide World of Sports.  The opinions expressed are my own.  Your own experiences may vary.

Cigna Blogger Cook-Off

As I was preparing for my first 10K I received the nicest invitation from Cigna to be a part of a cook-off at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

As sponsor’s of this year’s Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Cigna was doing a lot in the community.  From educating the public, to sponsoring their own employees, to helping Achilles International athletes cross the finish line.  They were making the most out of their involvement.

In their spare time they took the time to host a cook-off for bloggers that were also running the races.  The purpose of the event was to:

LEARN the most effective health and wellness marathon training tips from one of Cigna’s own nutritionists, as well as the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for you and your family all year round.

DEMONSTRATE culinary creativity during a hands-on cook-off.  Using a mystery basket of ingredients, teams of fellow bloggers are challenged to make a meal fit for marathon training. Throughout the cooking, a Disney culinary expert will be on hand to coach and oversee your team.

SAVOR a complimentary lunch created by you fellow bloggers

EXPERIENCE Cigna’s new interactive augmented reality app and technology designed for the marathon weekend

I have to say that Cigna was thrown a curve ball the day of the event.  It was being held in a tent at ESPN Wide World of Sports.  Unfortunately mother nature was not being nice and the temperatures were holding in the low 40’s.  Not great cooking weather.

Disney Chefs Heating themselves at a Grill at EPSN Wide World of Sports

AND I decided not to wear a coat because when I left the hotel I was still warm from the 10K.  For the first 15 minutes I would not leave the grill.  The Disney Chef’s were kind enough to keep me company but I was definitely not mingling.  Cigna helped me out with a jacket and I was then ready to cook.

Disney Chef at EPSN Wide World of Sports

Our head Chef kicked off the cook-off.  He explained the “rules”. We were to be broken up into 4 teams.  Each team was given a mystery ingredient that they had to use to create a dish to serve all the bloggers.  Three of the teams had proteins and one was vegan.

Cigna Blogger Cook-Off Tables of Ingredients with Hidden Mickey

There were tables filled with ingredients for us to choose from and refrigerators filled with additional supplies. (Found the Hidden Mickey a nice touch.)

Team Shrimp and Grits

Team Shrimp and Grits

I soon found found myself on a team with 7 other bloggers and our Disney Chef, Chef Anotnio (love him!).  We were handed our mystery ingredient… shrimp.  I cringed when I saw pounds and pounds of shrimp in the bag.  I am not a shrimp eater at all.  Yuck!  But here I was stuck with shrimp.  Time to make the most out of.

The Mystery Ingredient - Shrimp

The Mystery Ingredient – Shrimp

I quickly moved as far away from the shrimp as I could and the team went to work coming up with our dish.  The decision was shrimp and grits.  I am going to remind you there that they were supposed to be healthy meals that works into marathon training. (Antonio had other ideas)

Most of the team began working on the shrimp.  They were dicing vegetables and measuring out spices.  I found myself at the other end of the table with Meghan of Meals and Miles.  Looks like we were getting to make the grits – 1 GALLON OF GRITS.

We split them into two pots, added instant grits and chicken stock, and then the stirring began.  And continued and continued and continued.  As we stirred Antonio had us add 2 POUNDS of BUTTER, 1 QUART of WHIPPING CREAM and 3 POUNDS of PARMESAN CHEESE.  We also added some pepper and a bit of water to think it out.

Grit Tasting

Grit Tasting

Members of other teams were starting to come over to taste the grits. Word was out we were the dish to beat.  It was also out that Chef Antonio had completely given up on the healthy side of this dish.

Cooking Shrimp on the Grill

Cooking Shrimp on the Grill in the Cold

After our grits were done we headed to the grill and somehow talked Chef Antonio into doing our grilling so we could mingle and get photos with Chef Mickey.  (Thanks Chef Antonio!)

Cigna Blogger Cook Off

Cigna Blogger Cook Off

Then it was off to check out the other dishes.  There was beef stew, chicken pasta, grilled  corn, spicey tofu and chocolate chip bread pudding for dessert. YUMMY!

Cigna Blogger Cook Off

Because Disney knew we would get cold eating they sent over blankets from the hotel.  We had to be a sight.  A whole bunch of bloggers sitting around eating while covered in huge blankets.

All Bundled Up

All Bundled Up

Ok, I have to fess up – there really was not a competition.  We were just learning how to cook and enjoying all the dishes. (but many people walked up to me stating that the grits were the best – just saying).

I was honored to be invited and was truly inspired buy all that they are doing to promote healthy lifestyles and help make dreams come true.  I’ll be sharing a bit more about their efforts in follow up posts.

Thank you to the Cigna Team and the Disney Cast Members for a wonderful experience.




This post is brought to you by Cigna.

Cigna_logo4Cigna Corporation is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security.  Products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance.

“Cigna and runDisney share a commitment to inspire healthy living and active lifestyles across all ages and fitness levels,” said Lisa Bacus, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer at Cigna. “runDisney’s stature as one of the most respected race series in the nation gives Cigna and our customers and employees the opportunity to showcase our passion for community service. At the same time, we’ve been able to share inspiring personal stories of the customers, military veterans and so many others who have been part of our runDisney teams.”