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A Talk with a Disney Legend: Joyce Carlson — Part II

In today’s installment of this three part Jim Korkis interview, Joyce about what it was like to work on the “Small World” project for the 1964 New York World’s Fair.



In Monday’s installment, we began our conversation with Joyce Carlson who started as a traffic girl at the Disney Studio in 1944 and then went into the Ink and Paint Department before becoming an Imagineer. Joyce was officially named a Disney Legend by the Walt Disney Company in 2000 but for those of us who know her, she has always been a legend. Age and company politics have not dimmed her feisty spirit nor her generosity with her co-workers. Here is the second part of a glimpse into what life was like at the Disney Studios during the time that Walt walked the halls.

Jim: I also understand in those days, the color keys were also done on ditto?

Joyce: In color models, they got the drawings of the characters(s) in the feature and they would put color to the pencil lines and then they’d write down the color of the areas on the cels.

Jim: So instead of painting the cels, they sometimes use ditto in the color ditto and the color pencil for that. Now, you started in 1944, which was toward the end of the war…did you have any security clearance problems that you went through?

Joyce: Oh yes, we all had to wear our badges to get into the studio and there was alot of security and then they took our badges away after a while so we could just drive in, didn’t have to go through security. But, uh, that was during the war, yes.

Jim: You stayed in ink and paint for about 16 years, you say?

Joyce: Pushed a pen around for 16 years, no wonder I can’t see today (laughs).

Jim: What did a typical day look like for an inker?

Joyce: Well, we had a commissary and that was it for an eating place. It was very nice. And we’d come in and go up the corridor. We all had our own desks. There were about two desks next to you and there were about 20 girls. Sometimes it’d get real cold in there, y’know, and you can’t move your hands, so we couldn’t ink. So, we’d call the air conditioning man and he’d come up and get it nice and warm. We were happy at the end. The temperature was pretty good there, in the middle it was pretty good, but up front it was too hot. So everybody complained, you know how girls are (laughs). But we’d sit down and we’d have our five field cel, 6 1/2 field cel and three pan cels , we’d have to roll them up and put them on our boards.

Jim: For those who are unfamiliar with term, field is basically the area that that camera can “see”.

Joyce: We had our work or we’d call into the supervisor if we were running out of work. My supervisor nicknamed me “Hot Shot.”

Jim: Why’d you get nicknamed “Hot Shot?”

Joyce: I had red hair and freckles, y’know (laughs). I looked like that cartoon strip, y’know, the pilots, I can’t think of the name of the comic (TERRY AND THE PIRATES), but I looked like him, so she started calling me “Hot Shot.” That name stuck with me for quite a while, I even had a sign: “Hot Shot.”But, uh, we’d call in for work and get maybe six drawings, depending what character you were on, and we’d have to order from the paint lab, paint and we had a ‘dummy’ in the hall, the paint lab was right down below, and they would put the paints on it and send them up and then the color models would get their paints and we would get ours, black ink and certain colors that we needed for the cels that we were doing. We’d have to fill out a form and get our paints that way.

Jim: Did Walt ever visit you girls in the inking department?

Joyce: Oh, he used to come over. He used to walk through or bring guests through to see what we were working on. But otherwise, that was it.

Jim: Did he ever bring anything like compacts or nylons?

Joyce: Christmas time, he’d bring compacts, powder, nylons and he’d go around to all the girls and you could pick what you wanted. Merry Christmas (laughs).

Jim: How would you describe the ‘Walt Disney’ you knew?

Joyce: Well, Walt was, special. You saw him coming and he was someone you could look up to and you wanted to please, do a good job for him, help fulfill his dreams. It was exciting, you’d get on the elevator with Walt and he’d talk to everybody. It was wonderful, you’d just admire him so….we miss Walt, I miss Walt.

One time, it was ’54, I got a new car and a girl in Ink and Paint gave me a box of candy and a little metal car, you pull the handle and it scooted across the floor. So, I was walking out to my car and here comes Walt, he was going over to camera, and he passed me. Then, all of a sudden he stopped and he came back and he said “What do you have there?” and I said “Oh, Walt, I got a new car, so someone got me some candy and this little toy” So he picked it up and looked at it and he said “Oh, that’s nice” He never missed a trick.

But, uh, that little car has fond memories because he admired something and when you’re doing the shows, he’d always be there. When we’d do our reviews for our scenes that were inked and painted that day, he’d be up there in our box. We’d always have to fill out a paper, what we thought of the color or if it wasn’t inked too well. But he’d read them, he was always out in the hall. He’d read them later, but he was always collecting them, he wanted to know what we thought.

But, now when I see all our tapes on t.v., like Lady and the Tramp, and all this, inked and all those features, beautiful, the inking was beautiful. Of course Xerox now, is quick, but it’s nice.

Jim: How many cels in a day would you get through as an inker?

Joyce: It depends, if you were doing mud or water, you could whip those up first. There’s an average system too, you’re either on the top, or on the bottom. But now, if I had mud or water, I could be up on the top of the average. But, if I had someone like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, I’d get about 6 drawings of that character. That took a while, because sometimes, the characters had 12 colors and that took over an hour just to do one cel.

Jim: Did you have any particular deadline or quota where you had to put a certain amount of cels per week?

Joyce: Oh yeah, but it was usually close to the bottom. My supervisor would always say “Don’t worry about it, just do your inking” so that worked out okay.

Jim: Now, did you go to Disneyland when it opened in 55?

Joyce: Oh yeah, I still have my ticket, opening day ticket (laughs).

Jim: What was opening day like?

Joyce: Yeah, we were all invited, there were so many people that weren’t invited. Oh, it was terrible. It was a hot day. Walt was real thrilled, y’know, he had Art Linkletter and Bob Cummings and he was so excited about the show. But it was dusty and there was still alot of dirt around.
The only thing I rode was the carousel. That was the only thing I was able to get on, and I had a coke, that was my day. Oh, it was fun, we had a good time that day.

Jim: Have you ever seen anything like that? I know that there’s Long Beach Pike and everything out there.

Joyce: No, it wasn’t anything like that. I know that Walt used to go on the corner of Fairfax and Beverly and they had a Ferris wheel and he’d take his girls there, Diane and Sharon, on Sundays. So they could ride some of those, but that’s all we had. By Vons market, they’d had some ponies, I used to take my nieces there. That’s all they had, little ponies to ride, or a train that went around. So I guess that’s when he dreamed up Disneyland. He’s saying “The girls are having fun and I’m not” and he’s sitting there watching, dreaming up Disneyland.

Jim: Obviously, you’ve been back to Disneyland, so you’ve had a chance to ride more than the carousel?

Joyce: Oh yes, I had to go back and ride It’s a Small World.

Jim: Was that one of your favorites?

Joyce: Oh yes, I worked with Mary Blair on that show and Rolly Crump and Marc Davis and all of them.

Jim: In ’61 when they went into xerography and they fired the entire ink department, what did you do?

Joyce: Well, they showed me the door. All us inkers left, of course. But, one thing about inking is you can always get a job on the outside in the ink and paint services. I used to do that for a little extra money overtime and working Saturdays and Sundays with ink and paint services because they’d all call the Disney ink and paint girls and try to get them to hire us. Some of us got into model making for the Studio. We were doing the little furniture for the set piece, little ladders and refrigerators, all old fashioned. So *** Irvine came around and decided to keep us girls because they were going to start the Worlds Fair projects. We didn’t have all the necessities to work with, y’know. So on the shows (CAROUSEL OF PROGRESS, IT’S A SMALL WORLD), Leota Tomb’s father gave her some chewing gum, wires and earrings. We’d use everything off those earrings, the little jewels, the back piece for the little hinges and all for the model. That was fun.

When we finished, Walt used to bring guests to show them the projects and he’d say “Do you believe that this whole set was built on earrings?” and everybody would go “Earrings?!”

So we did a lot of things. Alot of secretaries would bring their jewelry in so we could use the beads and stuff for other projects. But oh, it was fun, those earrings really came in handy.

Jim: After working with inking, was it a shock working three-dimensional? Or because you had some sculpting background, did this all seem natural to you?

Joyce: Wood carving, that was back in my high school days. Santa Monica High, with a pen knife, I used to just do carvings, y’know. I didn’t have all the tools or anything like that. I used to go to Beverly Hills, in the back alleys, and pass the stationary stores and they had boxes and all these interesting things they’d throw away. So, I’d pick it all up, take it home and work with it. It was handy.

Jim: WED was off property, due to security reasons, right?

Joyce: Off over by the San Bernadino Road, yeah. It was a little place and they had a carpenter’s shop in the back, but we didn’t have too much room in there. That’s where we did all the toys for Small World, for the New York World’s Fair. That was fun. Walt used to come in with Rolly Crump early in the morning and we’d have the coffee truck back there and he’d have a cup of coffee. Come sit with Rolly and talk about the toys, Rolly toy shop. Then all the big boys would come in and snatch him away. (laughs). But he’d come in all the time and talk to everybody, even Christmas time he would show up. They would say “I think Walt’s coming to the party” and they’d say “no, he isn’t going to come”, but he did. He’d always show up!

He’d talk to the traffic boys and tell which project, like the Haunted Mansion, was coming up and they’d stand there listening to Walt and he used to be so excited telling them about all the new projects. He was wonderful and the boys were just so thrilled.

Jim: Did Roy come by too sometimes?

Joyce: I’ve never seen Roy, he could have been there too.

Jim: What about the time you were working on the zebra?

Joyce: That was for the Jungle Cruise. I never painted a zebra in my life, full scale y’know. I thought all the stripes were the same, but they’re not. There’s about four different species of zebras. So I picked up all these books from the library and I said to Marc Davis, “Which zebra do you want?” and he said “that one” so I mixed the colors and pained that zebra.

I was just finishing it up and putting the eyelashes down and putting the mane in and the tail. We had this horse hair and a needle you stick into the skin and Walt came by and looked at the zebra and says “Oh, that’s a nice animal” and I said “Oh, thank you Walt” and then Roy came by and Roy was bald and said “Joyce, could you put a little hair in my head like the zebra and the tail?” and I said “Sure, but it’ll smart a little” So he walked away and later on he came by and says “I changed my mind. If it smarts, I don’t want it. I’ll just stay the way I am” (laughs). He was fun, Roy was very nice.

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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