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David Tanaka talks about the creation of the “Pixar in Concert” project



The following is an email interview that I recently had with
David Tanaka, the creative editor of "Pixar in Concert." I'd like to
thank David for his detailed answers and Chris Wiggum at Pixar for arranging
the interview.

Q: Please tell me about the process. What prompted the Pixar
in Concert idea? How easy was it to get everyone on board and how long did it
take from idea to this past weekend's event?

Tanaka: The entire process for "Pixar in Concert"
actually took around two-plus years, starting in 2010. Show producers Brice
Parker and Laurel Ladevich, and myself were in constant communication with Pete
Docter, Jonas Rivera and John Lasseter over that period of time, as we
sharpened the conceptual approach to the concert, reached out to all the Pixar
directors, producers and music composers, and refined the evolving edited
musical suites for each of the Pixar movies to be featured in the performance.

Copyright Pixar. All rights reserved

It really all started with a simple, "What if we did a
concert on the music of Pixar?" from Brice Parker to Pete Docter. Pete,
whose mother is a music instructor and has a strong musical background himself,
loved the idea. Based on his interest in the proposal, I started editing a few
"sample cuts" on some of the Pixar films in accordance with the base
idea. I believe the first few edits included "UP," "Finding
Nemo" and the first two "Toy Story" movies.

After review with Pete and Jonas Rivera, the results were
then shown to Disney Music Publishing's Chris Montan and Tom MacDougall. They
in turn embraced the idea and encouraged us to continue to pursue the project.

A few edited iterations and additions later and we had a
formal presentation to show to John Lasseter in one of Pixar's screening review
rooms. John also loved the idea and agreed that the concert should really be
only about the music – no dialogue at all from the Pixar movies to interrupt
the audience's pleasure listening to the musical scores, very limited sound
effects only to enhance the point of the music if need be, and imagery directly
from the movies themselves with no additional "bonus material" such
as behind-the-scenes conceptual artwork or crew photos.

Copyright Pixar. All rights reserved

This would instead be "all about the music," as it relates
to what the audience members themselves experienced when they first enjoyed the
Pixar movies through the years.

With this set of parameters understood and agreed upon, a
constant stream of editing was produced and sent to Pete and John as our
creative executives over the coming months. Given both individuals' busy
schedules and other company commitments, this often resulted in a lot of
QuickTime movie files generated and many "iPad" reviews. They in turn
would give Brice Parker, Laurel Ladevich and myself cut content feedback via
email or voicemail, with occasional formal review get-togethers wherever

We would also arrange for individuals such as music composer
Michael Giacchino to stop by my Avid Media Composer edit suite from time to
time to review certain cuts (specifically "The Incredibles,"
"Ratatouille" and "UP" in Michael's case). Michael in
particular was very gracious with his time, offering great suggestions not only
with musical selections, but also pointers on how, for example, to rhythmically
transition from low melodies to extremely fast paced scores and vice-versa in
certain cases.

Copyright Pixar. All rights reserved

Q: What was your role as creative editor?

Tanaka: My role as Creative Editor entailed performing all
edits for the entire set of Pixar musical concert suites, from the first
rough-cut conceptual passes to final online polishing. The process involved
collaborating with all of the Pixar directors, producers and music composers to
ensure that my personal selection of music and related animated imagery jibed
with their expectations for each of the 13 Pixar animated features to date.

Q: Tell me more about the selection and order of clips to
support the underlying music.

Copyright Pixar. All rights reserved

Tanaka: I was pretty much left to my own accord regarding
how to initially approach musical selection and accompanying Pixar picture
content. With the amount of creative control I was given, I thought it best to
approach the editing process by simply asking myself as a moviegoer, "What
are my fondest memories from each of the Pixar movies?" For that reason
picture and music were often cut together, directly from each Pixar movie as
they were synced for original feature film release, as a starting point.

(But) we had two major challenges throughout the editorial
process regarding edited content:

1 – Core Narrative Theme Per Film:

Copyright Pixar. All rights reserved

Since this concert project is to celebrate the music of
Pixar, we don't necessarily want to re-tell the entire story of each movie,
from start to finish, in some kind of condensed cut version. We knew we could
pretty much assume that persons paying for tickets to experience this concert
had seen most of the Pixar movies, if not all of them. Therefore, from an
editorial standpoint, the challenge became how to craft one's favorite moments
from the films into some central narrative core theme or message per movie.

In the case of "Ratatouille," for example, it was
Remy's "joy of cooking" over, say, Linguini's romance story with
Collette or his butting heads with Sous Chef Skinner. For "Finding
Nemo," it was the father/son relationship between Marlon and Nemo despite
how entertaining the banter between Marlon and Dory was to watch. For
"UP," it was no question (it was) all about Carl Fredrickson's love
for his best friend and wife Ellie, despite his newfound relationships with
Russell, Kevin the bird and talking dog, Dug, in the movie.

In making these clear cut decisions to focus on specific
narrative themes, it helped shape the direction of my edits further away from
just being "best of" or "highlights" montage reels. Adhering to this approach of conveying narrative themes as
best as possible, however, sometimes meant breaking with the actual
chronological unfolding of events as originally presented in the movies.

Copyright Pixar. All rights reserved

For "Monsters, Inc.," for example, to tell the
story of Sully's caring for Boo we needed to first explain how the factory
"scare floor" actually worked, with its access to children's multiple
bedrooms. To show how sad it was for Sully to leave Boo behind before he
reopens her bedroom door at the end of the movie, however, I decided to
introduce the characters' sad parting scene in "flashback," right
before Sully opens the door. Such an arrangement deviated from the feature film,
but gave the best emotional payoff possible for the concert audience while at
the same time complementing Randy Newman's underlying score.

Another example is "WALL•E" in which it was
decided early on that we would focus on the romance between the little trash
compacting robot and E.V.E, as opposed to the story of "humans in
space." Such scenes struck an emotional chord with moviegoers and also
offered some of the most beautiful scores Thomas Newman created for the film.
In order to center on the romance theme, however, we felt we needed to remind
audiences of WALL•E's personality first – his humor and sense of awe. Again
breaking from original feature film release narrative order, I decided to first
showcase scenes in which WALL•E comically sifts through trash in his "day
job," as well as when he takes in the wonders of the universe upon leaving
Earth. Although WALL•E first meets E.V.E. before leaving his home planet,
presenting concert audiences with his tour of the universe first made for a better
understanding as to why WALLE•e is so awe-inspired by E.V.E.'s ability to fly  (when she was introduced on Earth) and how
easy it was to immediately fall in love with her.

2 – Concert Performance Time Constraints

Copyright Pixar. All rights reserved

The other challenge to editing this concert was purely
logistical: time.  Working closely with
San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall, we determined that a concert event of
this type should run approximately 90 minutes in total length, with a 20-minute
intermission included. With thirteen Pixar feature animated motion pictures to
account for, that roughly determined that each of my edited suites should run
for as short as four minutes to as long as seven or eight minutes, but no
longer. Given the adherence to highlighting particular narrative themes per movie
and the ability to shift scenes out of sequence, I could cut in accordance to
such time constraints, and as a whole deliver edited concert material within
the requested 70-minute total running time.

In the final stages of production, my job as Creative Editor
also entailed final video projection quality checks with Brice Parker and
Laurel Ladevich prior to the actual live performances at San Francisco's Davies
Symphony Hall, connecting with Disney Music Publishing's team of Jonathan Heely
and Ed Kainins to go over technical concerns regarding smooth video projection
playback rates and cross-comparing conductor versus audience synced video
footage, and also communicating with Music Arranger Mark Watters, regarding
any last (minute) questions or suggestions during rehearsals with Conductor
Sarah Hicks and the Davies Symphony Orchestra.

Q: I found it interesting that the music wasn't shown in
chronological order starting with "Toy Story" and ending with
"Brave." Knowing Pixar, I knew there was some thought given to the
program arrangement. Can you tell me more about the decision-making?

Copyright Pixar. All rights reserved

Tanaka: It was such an interesting selection process to go
through regarding concert program arrangement, for we definitely had several
key points of criteria to consider. Right from the start, however, the one fact
that we knew didn't make any sense to adhere to was the chronological order in
which the Pixar movies were originally released. "So what," right? As
personal fans of cinema ourselves, our love of movies really has no bearing on
compartmentalizing feature films to what specific year they were shown to the
public for the very first time (we just love them!).

Beyond starting the concert with Pixar's first film
"Toy Story" as sort of an homage to "the little film company that
could," the program arrangement of the other movies came down to other factors.
Those factors included:

  • who the Pixar director and music composer were for each
  • if that particular production was a Pixar sequel
  • and, the resulting overall tone of the piece I ended up
    editing to represent each movie.

(L to R) Lee Unkrich, John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and friends.
Copyright Pixar. All rights reserved

We really felt that the specific movies per each of our five
Pixar directors (Andrews, Bird, Docter, Lasseter and Stanton) should be equally
spread across the program as opposed to being clumped together since there may
be aesthetic similarities if we group one filmmaker's body of work one after
another. Why not instead spread them out?

Similarly, we felt that our four Pixar music composers
(Doyle, Giacchino, R. Newman and T. Newman) should also be separated across the
entire concert so their composing styles could be best appreciated played in
contrast to one another, as opposed to being performed one after another.

In addition, it only made sense that Pixar sequels (such as
sequels for the "Toy Story" and "Cars" sagas) should be
separated from one another in the program so they could be appreciated on their
own merits,and not unfairly condensed down as if to imply that they together
represent just one story and individually nothing more.

Copyright Pixar. All rights reserved

Lastly, the final edited suite I created for each Pixar
movie was then assessed for its content and the resulting overall tone that was
created.  For example, "The
Incredibles" and "Cars 2" suites I cut really celebrated the
action adventure spirit contained in each of those films, therefore they should
perhaps not be placed next to each other in order to give the audience variety
spread across the entire concert.

On the other end of the spectrum, "Finding Nemo"
and "UP" evolved into offering two of our most dramatic and emotional
suites for the evening, therefore they should intentionally be set apart from
each other for optimum audience appreciation.

David Tanaka then volunteered some "closing
thoughts" :

David Tanaka. Copyright Pixar. All rights reserved

As mentioned, the entire process lasted for (more than) two
years, with much collaboration and back and forth communication from all
involved. It was truly a fun process for myself and everyone involved, all in
the name of our love of musical scores.

In addition to the satisfaction of representing our Pixar
movies, directors, music composers and movie soundtracks as best as possible,
having audience members experience and enjoy Pixar's 13 movies through music
and just in the span of a mere 90-minute concert performance was an extremely
rewarding experience for me as the project's Creative Editor, and hopefully for
the audience as well!

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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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