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A short time ago, in a convention center far far away…

JHM guest writer Richard Vines shares his impressions of “Celebration III,” the “Star Wars” fan event was held last month in Indianapolis, IN.



I have never been one to go to conventions. But when a good friend of mine made the suggestion to go to “Star Wars: Celebration III,” I figured why not. Little did I know what an adventure I signed myself up for.

My trip started in sunny … very sunny … okay, darn hot Phoenix, AZ. I arrived in Indianapolis, IN just after 2pm and — after checking in at my hotel — went straight to “Celebration.” When I arrived, I was shocked that there were actual Storm Troopers checking badges. Hmm? What have I gotten myself into?

I have always thought that those people who dressed up were a little on the eccentric side (not to be judgemental, or anything like that). But what I found out was that it was almost like a badge of honor. The storm troopers were members of a group called the 501st, an organization/fan club who dress up and volunteer throughout the communities in which they live. At the convention, they provided security. And the conventioneers really listened to these guys.

We walked through the event’s main entrance and — to my amazement — others were dressed up as well. After a small period of adjustment, we went to check out the Exhibition Hall where various companies were pedaling their wares. There was a wide array of toys, games, posters, comics, and any other conceivable device associated with “Star Wars.”

Having collected the toys as a kid in the early 1980’s, I was in heaven. I was looking at things I hadn’t seen in 20 years. A Darth Vader action figure! A Han Solo in carbonite mint on card, gasp! Why didn’t I keep them? I was taken right back to my childhood and — from that point on — I was drawn into this world.

The most impressive booth was Master Replicas. This booth was slick and the people there were unbelievably friendly. Master Replicas sells hyper detailed recreations of famous movie props. Among the pieces that I got to see at “Celebration III” was the one Ring of Sauron from the ” Lord of the Rings” trilogy and even a replica of the Nautilus from Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

But what was obvious wowing the “Star Wars” fans for the Master Replica pieces that were based on props from the six films. These items included the FX Light Sabers, which lit up like an actual light saber and make sound based on how you move it. The most impressive piece was an exact replication Darth Vader helmet and Light Saber hilt from the new movie, “Revenge of the Sith.” Which is being raffled off on the MR website.

After exploring the vaste hall and picking up trinkets, we went over to “Celebration III” ‘s opening ceremonies. I found a fashionably decorated hall with giant screens projecting C3 logos and a jazz band playing fantastic arrangements of “Star Wars” most familiar tunes.

Then the fun really started. Jay Laga’aia was announced and sang Weird Al’s version of “American Pie.” He has a great voice and is quite an entertainer. The various hosts and MC’s came out to discuss what would be happening on their stage. The marketing manager for Lucasfilms came out and wished us all a good time and said that he never in his 30 years would have guessed that his legacy would be Darth Tater. He then introduced a video package that would be included on DVD with the Episode 3 soundtrack. It was an emotional vignette that included scenes from all 6 star wars movies and set the anticipation for the final film.

Rick McCallum, producer of the prequels came up and stated very bluntly “this is the film you have always wanted.” He introduced a video package with the stars of the film that couldn’t be there, who sent their well wishes.

Then there was a performance from each of the three shows that were showing at “Celebration III.” First was a clip from Charlie Ross‘ frenetic “One Man Star Wars Trilogy.” Then the cast of the “Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes” was to perform a snippet. But the director explained that to show a sample would be to show most of their play. So — instead — this troupe of performers acted the entire “Episode III” trailer, picture perfect with just two hour of rehearsal. After a light saber battle sponsored by Master Replicas, the night was over with a burst of confetti.

The next day, Jeff & I arrived at “Celebration III” promptly at 9 a.m. and head straight to the C3 store. Unfortunately, we found ourselves pretty far back in line. Then the sky opened and rain fell. But we still stayed in line.

After what seemed like an eternity, the doors to the store finally opened. So we rushed inside … only to find the place already packed. So — just like everybody else — Jeff & I got in line for our C3 Darth Vader talking action figure. And we waited…and waited…and waited… After 3 hours, we were only halfway through the line. Clearly something was being mismanaged here.

I mean, here we are on Friday. Yet the store had already sold out of many of the items that people wanted to commemorate their C3 experience. T-shirts, sweatshirts, kids clothes, all of it gone. To make matter worse, during or wait in line, Jeff & I missed convention presentation of make-up and special effects from “Revenge of the Sith.”

Being a portly gentleman, I eventually grew tired of standing. So I scouted out the line for the Rick McCallum Spectacular. Just as I arrived, the theatre emptied and we were all ushered inside. The only problem was: I was without my friends. Which meant that I had to step out and wait.

This happened again 30 minutes later. And I was starting to get worried that we wouldn’t be able see Mr. McCallum at all. But — just as they were letting the third group through — my friends all showed up. So we were all finally able to sit down & enjoy the show.

Rick gave a short introduction, but no Q&A. Then the lights went off and we were treated to 3 minutes of the most tantalizing footage from “SWE3” anyone could want. I won’t spoil any surprises for any of you. But — needless to say — Mr. McCallum may be right. “Revenge of the Sith” might just be the movie we all hav been waiting for.

After this, Jeff & I went to the Master Replicas party. There, we were treated to food, drinks, several raffles for products and most of the celebrities that were there at “Celebration III.” We mingled and schmoozed with the likes of Ray Park (Darth Maul), David Prowse (original Darth Vader), and even Jake Lloyd (young Anakin Skywalker). We talked at length with the Jensen brothers about their experiences. Jesse Jensen said it was definitely on his top-ten list of things to do before you die. As the party died down, we returned to our hotel fully aware that a line was already forming at 1 a.m. to see George Lucas for the Q&A session at 8:30 am, but we decide to go home and get some rest.

I awoke at 5:30 a.m. and burst out the door to see if I could get a peek at GL for any one of his three shows. I walked the two blocks to the entrance, only to find that the line for the shows was capped off at 2 a.m. Disappointed, I walked back and decided to get in line for the actual convention at 6:30 a.m.

As I stood there in line, snow began to fall. My buddies arrived at 8 a.m. and found a Richard-cicle. Within five minutes of their arrival, a convention worker shouted out “Anyone who would like to see George Lucas, come with me.” Flabbergasted, we followed. Apprehensive about leaving our good spot in line but still thankful for the warmth of the building.

We were escorted through the back and directly to the theatre. Unbelievably we got in with only a two-hour wait. Both Ben and Jeff thanked me greatly for freezing for the better good, and then it was show time.

Jay Laga’aia came out and introduced two new actors that were making their debuts in Episode 3. They were George’s kids, Jett and Katie Lucas. They introduced a clip of the master at work and also at play (a rare glimpse into just how much fun & hard work the Jedi Master has had over the last 30 years).

Then Rick McCallum came out to introduce the one and only George Lucas. Flash bulbs went off and people started an unbelievable ovation, which lasted the entire three minutes we were allowed by security staff. Lucas looked rather overwhelmed, but with a satisfied grin. He was polite and funny.

The first question was if “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” would be released on DVD. George Lucas and Rick McCallum acknowledged that it would be released soon though no date was announced. The next question was pertaining to Lucas’s relationship with Disney and whether there would be updates on any of those rides. Lucas said that there have been problems inside Disney’s management lately. But he was sure that he would update “Star Tours” very soon.

George was also asked about the possibilities of “Star Wars” coming to TV. He said he was committed to continuing the popular “Clone Wars” cartoon, but said that he would like to use CG animation. He also said a live action TV show was in the works and that it would be with new characters and vaguely mentions the people from the movies.

Lucas was hoping to work on the live action “Star Wars” television series for the first year and then let others have it after that and just consult. George also said he wants to finish the first twelve scripts before the series actually began shooting. Which was something very similiar to what George had done during the production of “Young Indy.”

What a way to start a day! After that, we grabbed a bite and went for autographs. This was definitely the most organized part of the convention. We could all have a brief time with those involved in making the movies we love.

After spending the better part of the day collecting signatures and shaking hands, we stopped back at the hotel to freshen up and then returned for the “Celebration at Celebration III!” This was a big party for 3,000 people. The band from the opening ceremonies was swinging away and there were some carnival style games, but it was basically a big line for C3 T-shirts.

Unfortunately, this was also not very well organized. People were allowed 1 shirt and 1 T-shirt transfer. Smalls ran out quickly and so did certain characters. By the time we arrived, no Yoda shirts were available, and we were again disappointed by the lack of foresight from the buyers.

After schmoozing with the Star Wars fanatics for a couple more hours, it was time to turn in. We woke the next day deciding to take it easy. I sat in on a Collectors Seminar while Ben and Jeff shipped their goodies home. From there, we went to see the Costume Cabaret.

For an hour we were treated to original songs, skits and sword fights based on “Star Wars” characters. The best was a duo of dancers dressed as Han Solo and Chewbacca performing to the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” scene from “Young Frankenstein.” We decided to mosey over to the Spectacular! Footage one more time and stopped to say goodbye to the MR folks, and that was that.

Even with its problems in the retail area (I hope that they address the buyer for the event), “Celebration III” was much more than I expected. It was like being a part of a large extended family. And I am better for having met the people I did. Seeing George Lucas was like seeing a favorite uncle and we were all along for his version of story time.

The event could be summed up best by a young boy’s comment to George during the Q&A. “Thanks,” he said. Thanks for 30 years, 6 movies, countless memories, and many more to come.



Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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Jens Dahlmann of LongHorn Steakhouse has lots of great tips when it comes to grilling



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Sure, for some folks, the Fourth of July is all about fireworks. But for the 75% of all Americans who own a grill or a smoker, the Fourth is our Nation’s No. 1 holiday when it comes to grilling. Which is why 3 out of 4 of those folks will spend some time outside today working over a fire.

But here’s the thing: Though 14 million Americans can cook a steak with confidence because they actually grill something every week, the rest of us – because we use our grill or smoker so infrequently … Well, let’s just say that we have no chops when it comes to dealing with chops (pork, veal or otherwise).

So what’s a backyard chef supposed to in a situation like this when there’s so much at steak … er … stake? Turn to someone who really knows their way around a grill for advice. People like Jens Dahlmann, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Darden Restaurant’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.

Given that Jens’ father & grandfather were chefs, this is a guy who literally grew up in a kitchen. In his teens & twenties, Dahlmann worked in hotels & restaurants all over Switzerland & Germany. Once he was classically trained in the culinary arts, Jens then  jumped ship. Well, started working on cruise ships, I mean.

Anyway … While working on Cunard’s Sea Goddess, Dahlmann met Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque 2000. Sirio was so impressed with Jens’ skills in the kitchen that he offered him the opportunity to become sous-chef at this New York landmark. After four years of working in Manhattan, Dahlmann then headed south to become executive chef at Palm Beach’s prestigious Café L’Europe.

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

And once Jens began wowing foodies in Florida, it wasn’t all that long ’til the Mouse came a-calling. Mickey wanted Dahlmann to shake things up in the kitchen over at WDW’s Flying Fish Café. And he did such a good job with that Disney’s Boardwalk eatery the next thing Jens knew, he was then being asked to work his magic with the menu at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.

From there, Dahlmann had a relatively meteoric rise at the Mouse House. Once he became Epcot’s Food & Beverage general manager, it was only a matter of time before he wound up as the executive chef in charge of this theme park’s annual International Food & Wine Festival. Which – under Jens’ guidance – experienced some truly explosive growth.

“When I took on Food & Wine, that festival was only 35 days long and had gross revenues of just $5.5 million. When I left Disney in 2016, Food & Wine was now over 50 days long and that festival had gross revenues of $22 million,” Dahlmann admitted during a recent sit-down. “I honestly loved those 13 years I spent at Disney. When I was working there, I learned so much because I was really cooking for America.”

And it was exactly that sort of experience & expertise that Darden wanted to tap into when they lured Jens away from Mickey last year to become LongHorn Steakhouse’s new Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef. But today … Well, Dahlmann is offering tips to those of us who are thinking about cooking steak tips for the Fourth.

Photo by Jim Hill

“When you’re planning on grilling this holiday, if you’re looking for a successful result, the obvious place to start is with the quality of the meat you plan on cooking for your friends & family. If you want the best results here, don’t be cheap when you go shopping. Spend the money necessary for a fresh filet or a New York strip. Better yet a Ribeye, a nice thick one with good marbling. Because when you look at the marbling on a steak, that’s where all the flavor happens,” Jens explained. “That said, you always have to remember that — the higher you go with the quality of your meat — the less time you’re going to want that piece of meat to spend on the grill.”

And speaking of cooking … Before you even get started here, Jens suggests that you first take the time to check over all of your grilling equipment. Making sure that the grill itself is first scraped clean & then properly oiled before you then turn up the heat.

“If you’re working with a dirty grill, when you go to turn your meat, it may wind up sticking to the grill. Or maybe those spices that you’ve just so carefully coated your steak with will wind up sticking to the grill, rather than your meat,” Dahlmann continued. “Which is why it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes prior to firing up your grill properly cleaning & oiling it.”

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of heat … Again, before you officially get started grilling here, Jens says that it’s crucial to check your temperature gauges. Make sure that your char grill is set at 550 (so that it can then properly handle the thicker cuts of meat) and your flattop is set at 425 (so it can properly sear thinner pieces of meat).

Okay. Once you’ve bought the right cuts of quality meat, properly cleaned & oiled your grill, and then made sure that everything’s set at the right temperature (“If you can only stand to hold your hand directly over the grill for two or three seconds, that’s the right amount of heat,” Dahlmann said), it’s now time to season your steaks.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold here. You can’t be shy when it comes to seasoning your meat. You want to give it a nice coating. Largely because — if you’re using a char grill — a lot of that seasoning is just going to fall off anyway,” Jens stated. “It’s up to you to decide what sort of seasoning you want to use here. Even just some salt & pepper will enhance a steak’s flavor.”

Then – according to Dahlmann – comes the really tough part. Which is placing your meat on the grill and then fighting the urge to flip it too early or too often.

“The biggest mistake that a lot of amateur cooks make is that they flip the steak too many times. The real key to a well-cooked piece of meat is just let it be, “Jens insisted. “Of course, if you’re serving different cuts of meat at your Fourth of July feast, you always want to put your biggest thickest steak on the grill first. If you’re also cooking a New York Strip, you want to put that one on a few minutes later. But after that, just let the grill do its job and flip your meat a total of three or four times, once every three minutes or so.”

Of course, the last thing you want to do is overcook a quality piece of meat. Which is why Dahlmann suggests that – when it comes to grilling steaks – if you’re going to err, err on the side of undercooking.

“You can always put a piece of meat back on the grill if it’s slightly undercooked. When you over-cook something, all you can do then is start over with a brand-new piece of meat,” Jens said. “Just be sure that you’re using the correct cut of meat for the cooking result you’re aiming for. If someone wants a rare or medium rare steak, you should go with a thicker cut of steak. If one of your guests wants their steak cooked medium or well, it’s best to start with a thinner cut of meat.”

Photo by Jim Hill

As you can see, the folks at Longhorn take grilling steaks seriously. How seriously? Just last week at Darden Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, seven of these brand’s top grill masters (who – after weeks of regional competitions – had been culled from the 491 restaurants that make up this chain) competed for a $10,000 prize in the Company’s second annual Steak Master Series. And Dahlmann was one of the people who stood in Darden’s test kitchens, watching like a hawk as each of the contestants struggled to prepare six different dishes in just 20 minutes according to Longhorn Steakhouse’s exacting standards.

“I love that Darden does this. Recognizing the best of the best who work this restaurant,” Jens concluded. “We have a lot of people here who are incredibly knowledgeable & passionate when it comes to grilling.”

Speaking of which … If today’s story doesn’t include the exact piece of info that you need to properly grill that T-bone, just whip out your iPhone & text GRILL to 55702. Or – better yet – visit prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers is a sincere if somewhat surreal way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont



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Some people travel halfway ‘around the planet so that they can then experience the excitement of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. If you’re more of a Slow Living enthusiast (as I am), then perhaps you should amble to Brattleboro, VT. Where – over the first weekend in June – you can then join a herd of cow enthusiasts at the annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Now in its 16th year, this three-day long event typically gets underway on Friday night in June with a combination block party / gallery walk. But then – come Saturday morning – Main Street in Brattleboro is lined with thousands of bovine fans.

Photo by Jim Hill

They’ve staked out primo viewing spots and set up camp chairs hours ahead of time. Just so these folks can then have a front row seat as this year’s crop of calves (which all come from local farms & 4-H clubs) are paraded through the streets.

Photo by Jim Hill

Viewed from curbside, Strolling of the Heifers is kind of this weird melding of a sincere small town celebration and Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade. Meaning that – for every entry that actually acknowledged this year’s theme (i.e. “Dance to the Moosic”) — …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something completely random, like this parade’s synchronized shopping cart unit.

Photo by Jim Hill

And for every piece of authentic Americana (EX: That collection of antique John Deere tractors that came chugging through the city) …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something silly. Like – say – a woman dressed as a Holstein pushing a baby stroller through the streets. And riding in that stroller was a pig dressed in a tutu.

Photo by Jim Hill

And given that this event was being staged in the Green Mountain State & all … Well, does it really surprise you to learn that — among the groups that marched in this year’s Strolling of the Heifers – was a group of eco-friendly folks who, with their  chants of “We’re Number One !,” tried to persuade people along the parade route not to flush the toilet after they pee. Because – as it turns out – urine can be turned into fertilizer.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of fertilizer … At the tail end of the parade, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who were dealing with what came out of the tail end of all those cows.

Photo by Jim Hill

This year’s Strolling of the Heifers concluded at the Brattleboro town common. Where event attendees could then get a closer look at some of the featured units in this year’s parade…

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

But as for the 90+ calves who took part in the 2017 edition of Strolling of the Heifers, once they reached the town common, it was now time for a nosh or a nap.

Photo by Jim Hill

Elsewhere on the common, keeping with this year’s “Dance to the Moosic” theme, various musical groups performed in & around the gazebo throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Jim Hill

While just across the way – keeping with Brattleboro’s tradition of showcasing the various artisans who live & work in the local community – some pretty funky pieces were on display at the Slow Living Exposition.

Photo by Jim Hill

All in all, attending Strolling of the Heifers is a somewhat surreal but still very pleasant way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont. And that’s no bull.

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, that could be a bull. To be honest, what with the wig & all, it’s kind of hard to tell. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sunday, June 4, 2017

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Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick’s Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage



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Let’s at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon – the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food – loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th.

“I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That’s terrific,” Kevin said.

But then when it comes to what many Americans eat & drink on St. Paddy’s Day (i.e., a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Which is then washed down with a mug of green beer) … Well, that’s where Dundon has to draw the line.

Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon displays a traditional Irish loin of bacon with Colcannon potatoes and a Dunbrody Kiss chocolate dessert. Photo by Tom Burton. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Green beer? No real Irishman would be caught dead drinking that stuff,” Kevin insists. “And as for eating corned beef & cabbage … That’s not actually authentic Irish fare either. Bacon and cabbage? Sure. But corned beef & cabbage was something that the Irish only began eating after they’d come to the States to escape the Famine. And even then these Irish-Americans only began serving corned beef & cabbage to their friends & family because they had to make do with the ingredients that were available to them at that time.”

And thus begins the strange tale of how corned beef & cabbage came to be associated with the North American celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Because – according to Dundon – beef just wasn’t all that big a part of the Irish diet back in the 19th century.

To explain: Back in the Old Country, cattle – while they were obviously highly prized for the milk & cheese that they produced – were also beasts of burden. Meaning that they were often used for ploughing the fields or for hauling heavy loads. Which is why – back then — these animals were rarely slaughtered when they were still young & healthy. If anything, land owners liked to put a herd of cattle on display out in one of their pastures because that was then a sign to their neighbors that this farm was prosperous.

“Whereas pork … Well, everybody raised pigs back then. Which is why pork was a staple of the Irish diet rather than beef,” Dundon continued.

So if that’s what people actually ate back in the Old Country, how then did corned beef & cabbage come to be so strongly associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the States.? That largely had to do with where the Irish wound up living after they arrived in the New World.

“When the Irish first arrived in America following the Great Famine, a lot of them wound up living in the inner city right alongside the Germans & the Jews, who were also recent immigrants to the States. And while that farm-fresh pork that the Irish loved wasn’t readily available, there was brisket. Which the Irish could then cure by first covering this piece of meat with corn kernel-sized pieces of rock salt – that’s how it came to be called corned beef. Because of the sizes of the pieces of rock salt that were used in the curing process – and then placing all that in a pot of water with other spices to soak for a few days.”

And as for the cabbage portion of corned beef & cabbage … Well, according to Kevin, in addition to buying their meat from the kosher delis in their neighborhood, the Irish would also frequent the stores that the German community shopped in. Where – thanks to their love of sauerkraut (i.e., pickled cabbage) – there was always a ready supply of cabbage to be had.

“So when you get right down to it, it was the American melting pot that led to corned beef & cabbage being found in the Irish-American cooking pot,” Dundon continued. “Since they couldn’t find or didn’t have easy access to the exact same ingredients that they had back in Ireland, Irish-Americans made do with what they could find in the immediate vicinity. And what they made was admittedly tasty. But it’s not actually authentic Irish fare.”

Mind you, what Kevin serves at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs (which – FYI – Orlando Magazine voted as the area’s best restaurant back in 2014) is nothing if not authentic. Dundon and his team at this acclaimed gastropub pride themselves on making traditional Irish fare and then contemporized it.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Take – for example – what we serve here instead of corned beef & cabbage. Again, because it was pork – rather than beef – that was the true staple of the Irish diet back then, what we offer instead is a loin of bacon that has been glazed with Irish Mist. That then comes with colcannon potatoes. Which is this traditional Irish dish that’s made up of mashed potato that have had some cabbage & bacon mixed through it,” Kevin enthused. “This heavenly ham – that’s what we actually call this traditional Irish dish at Raglan Road, Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – also includes some savory cabbage with a parsley cream sauce as well as a raisin cider jus. It’s simple food. But because of the basic ingredients – and that’s the real secret of Irish cuisine. That our ingredients are so strong – the flavors just pop off the plate.”

Which brings us to the real challenge that Dundon and the Raglan Road team face every day. Making sure that they actually have all of the ingredients necessary to make this traditional-yet-contemporized Irish fare to those folks who frequent this Walt Disney World favorite.

“Take – for example – the fish we serve here. We only used cold water fish. Salmon, mussels and haddock that have been hauled out of the Atlantic, the ocean that America and Ireland share,” Kevin stated. “Not that there’s anything wrong with warm water fish. It’s just that … Well, it doesn’t have the same structure. It’s a softer fish, which doesn’t really fit the parameters of Irish cuisine. And if you’re going to serve authentic food, you have to be this dedicated when it comes to sourcing your ingredients.

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

And if you’re thinking of perhaps trying to serve an authentic Irish meal this year, rather than once again serving corned beef & cabbage at your Saint Patrick’s Day Feast … Well, back in September of last year, Mitchell Beazley published “The Raglan Road Cookbook: Inside America’s Favorite Irish Pub.” This 296-page hardcover not only includes the recipe for Kevin’s Heavenly Ham but also it tells the tale of how this now-world-renown restaurant wound up being built in Orlando.

On the other hand, if you happen to have to the luck of the Irish and are actually down at The Walt Disney World Resort right now, it’s worth noting that Raglan Road is right in the middle of its Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This four day-long event – which includes Irish bands and professional dancers – stretches through Sunday night. And in addition to all that authentic Irish fare that Dundon and his team are cooking up, you also sample the fine selection of beers & cocktails that this establishment’s four distinct antique bars (each of which are more than 130 years old and were imported directly from Ireland) will be serving. Just – As ucht Dé (That’s “For God’s Sake” in Gaelic) – don’t make the mistake of asking the bartender there for a mug of green beer.

“Why would anyone willingly drink something like that?,” Dundon laughed. “I mean, just imagine what their washroom will look like the morning after.”

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 17, 2017

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