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“Disney U” features many informative & hilarious stories about how things really work behind-the-scenes at the Mouse House

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Did you need a distraction from all of the sad news coming
out of Boston tonight? I know that
I do. Which is why — rather than watch that footage of the explosion at the
marathon's line yet again — I picked up a copy of  Doug Lipp's terrific tome, "Disney U: How
Disney University develops the World's most engaged, loyal, and customer-centric
employees
" (McGraw-Hill, March 2013).

Given that Lipp helped create the first international
version of Disney University
(which was then used to train Cast Members for the April 1983 opening of Tokyo
Disneyland), Doug's the perfect guy to take you behind-the-scenes at this
somewhat mysterious educational arm of The Walt Disney Company. Which teaches
the Mouse House's 166,000 employees that they should always be on the lookout
for ways that they can improve the Guest's / customer's experience.


Copyright McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved

And this always-be-looking-for-ways-to-improve-things
attitude can be traced right back to the Old Mousetro himself. Who — in a neat
little story that Lipp shares in this 222-page hardcover — surprised an hourly
Cast Member one day during the early 1960s as Walt was looking for ways to
improve one of the Happiest Place on Earth's then- newer attractions:

The Fantasyland ride operator is busily moving the Skyway
gondolas through the loading area. It is midwinter, and there aren't many
guests at Disneyland, nor on his attraction. He turns
briefly and is startled to see Walt Disney sitting on a bench watching him.


Walt calls out, "Can I talk to you for a minute?"


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

"Yes sir," says the cast member, as he nervously makes his way to the
bench to sit next to Walt. While he has heard about these moments when Walt
would unexpectedly emerge, this is a first for him.

"We're thinking of updating the Skyway," Walt
informs him. "You work on this attraction every day, so I can't think of
anyone more qualified to give me ideas for the new design."

A bit surprised, the cast member considers Walt's comment, and then offers his
suggestion. "Actually, the gondola roofs are too low and Guests often bump
their heads when I load and unload them."


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved


When they finished this brief exchange of ideas, Walt thanked him. Intending to
get a closer look at the attraction, Walt proceeded to board one of the
gondolas … and he bumped his head!


That's the real fun of "Disney
U." Doug understands that the
easiest way to get people to remember one of the 13 lessons in leadership &
company values that he's crammed into this McGraw-Hill Educational book is by
entertaining them. So Lipp sprinkles in laughs wherever he can. Take — for
example — this tale of what actually happened at Tokyo Disneyland's version of
The Haunted Mansion just prior to the opening of Walt Disney Productions' first
international theme park. In the years leading up to the opening of TDL …


… a core group of Japanese managers and supervisors have received months of
training from an elite group of Disneyland operations
professionals. Many Japanese managers were transferred to the United
States, spending months learning the details
of running a theme park, Disney style; some even participated in the grand
openings of attractions and theme parks in California
and Florida. But as with any
grand opening, there are endless details and many fingers in the pie, and some
things simply fall through the cracks.



Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved


In preparation for the press event (which would be held to
commemorate the grand opening of Walt Disney Productions' first international
theme park), the custodial and grounds-keeping crews have been hard at work
cleaning, polishing, and scrubbing every attraction, every restaurant, and
every store. Flower beds are repeatedly checked for wilted or dying plants.
Tokyo Disneyland is spotless and ready for the big day.


And this created a huge problem.



Enthusiastically embracing the mission to "make the
park shine," the custodial crew cleaned the Haunted
Mansion. It's just prepped and
readied for the big day; it is spotless! All the dust is gone. The spooky
cobwebs have been removed. The Haunted
Mansion is immaculate — it no
longer looks HAUNTED.



Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved


Ron Pogue, vice president of Disneyland International and Walt Disney
Attractions, Japan,
recalls, "The Japanese custodial crew wanted everything to look perfect
for the press event. So they tidied up the old mansion." Unfortunately, in
their enthusiasm, the custodians managed to eliminate meticulously created and
specifically placed artwork. They removed all the rubber cement cobwebs,
wallpaper stains, and dust on the velvet curtains that had been purposely and
carefully applied by a team of artists to make the place look haunted. The art
of aging and graining, a process commonly used in the worlds of theater and
film, involves the precise application of paint and other materials to on-stage
props and buildings, creating a sense of realism. In the Haunted
Mansion, artists spent week
transforming the newly built mansion into an old, decrepit haunted mansion. In
one night, the graveyard custodial crew transformed the aged and grained Haunted
Mansion into a building so clean,
shiny, and spotless, it could have the white-gloved inspection of the strictest
inspectors.


Steve Lewelling, the director of operations at Tokyo
Disneyland, has a lasting memory of the incident. Living in Japan
as part of the start-up team, Steve got a wake-up call — literally. "The
call came at 2 a.m. My manager of custodial,
another American expatriate, called me at home, woke me up, and said, 'Steve,
they've cleaned the Haunted Mansion!'
I couldn't believe this guy was calling me in the middle of the night simply to
tell me the Japanese custodians had done their job." As the details
started to emerge, Steve realized the gravity of the situation. What had taken
the artists three weeks to create had gone down the drain. "We had just
put the artists on a plane and sent them back to California,"
recalls Steve. "I was on the telephone scrambling to get them back, and
their plane hadn't even landed in Los Angeles!"


And it's not just Walt Disney Parks & Resorts that Doug
Lipp takes you behind-the-scenes at. He also has lots of great stories that
deal with the Studio side of the operation. Take — for example — how Disney
lost out on a boatload of dough back in late 1989 / early 1990 because various
arms of the Company weren't communicating all that effectively back then:




Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved


As part of (their) strategy to reinvigorate the Disney
Studio — and the whole company — Michael (Eisner) and Frank (Wells) were
determined to foster a culture of creativity, innovation, and accountability.
Several years after they joined the company, the new entrepreneurial culture
they created was already reaping great rewards; the 1989 smash hit The Little
Mermaid

was a direct result. But there was also an unintended negative
consequence.


(As Carol Davis-Fernald — who started out as a trainer in
the Disney University
and eventually rose to a position of vice president of human resources and
employee initiatives at the Company — recalled:) "The Little Mermaid was
a blockbuster hit in the theaters, but we didn't fully leverage that success in
consumer products; retail sales of The Little Mermaid-themed merchandise such
as dolls and games didn't fare as well as they could have."


The problem was product volume and variety. In light of the
unparalleled success of the movie, there was a lack of mermaid-themed
merchandise in stores. The consumer products team hadn't been involved in
developing merchandise until late in the game, and since the product
development cycle — from initial ideas to products on store shelves — is
long, there hadn't been time to catch up. The lack of timely communication and
collaboration between business had become a major problem.



Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved


(In the wake of these lost merchandising opportunities from
The Little Mermaid), Retailing specialists from consumer products were brought
in to share research data (with Mouse House upper management).


"Every executive in the room reacted in the same way: Look
at the opportunity we missed," says Carol. The importance of involving a
more diverse team, even from the earliest levels of script development, became
one of the many learning points garnered by those attending (this after-actions
meeting).


The tremendous increase in the volume of merchandise sales
for subsequent films as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King
provides
testimony to the power of improved communication and the synergy that (this
in-house meeting in 1990) helped foster.



Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved


And Doug doesn't just take "Disney U" readers to behind-the-scenes
places at the Company's corporate headquarters. Lipp also journeys to the top
of WDW's Cinderella Castle.
To a room that …


… had no windows, nor was it painted. In fact, it was just
an empty space left over from construction, no more glamorous than an
unfinished attic.


Dick Nunis picked up the telephone and personally called the
vice presidents of every division, (inviting them to join him) high above the Magic
Kingdom
, (in a room that could only
be reached) via a small construction elevator or a steep, narrow staircase.



Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved


So why did the then-executive vice president of Disneyland
and Walt Disney World invite all of these VPs to join at the top of Cinderella
Castle? Lipp shines a spotlight on
a little known moment in WDW history. A time in early 1973 when …


… the barometer of employee morale, the turnover rate, was hovering near 83
percent; employees were leaving the company in such high numbers that the
recruiting and training teams could barely fill the gaps. They had long since
passed the service industry average of 55 percent.


By 1973, the original team of 5,500 Cast Members had ballooned to almost
10,000.  Employees and managers (were
experiencing) burnout.



Copyright G. Doug Lipp & Associates. All rights reserved


So what did Dick and his cadre of WDW vice presidents do to turn around the
Resort's employee retention levels? You're going to have to pick up a copy of
"Disney U," Doug Lipp's extremely entertaining & educational book
in order to find out.

Your thoughts?




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  ExpertGriller.com 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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