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Disney’s marketing of “Frozen” may have frustrated animation fans, but it won over a far larger audience for this film



In response to yesterday's " "Transcendence"
& "Rise of the Guardians" illustrate the fine art of how NOT to
promote a motion picture" story, FuseMP posted the following comment in
JHM's discussion boards:

I cannot remember the last good marketing campaign carried
out by Disney, you mentioned that Guardians
suffered from trailers that
concentrated on the wrong thing (in this case, the elves for comedy which felt
Minion-ish which they were), that is exactly the same mistake Disney made with
where the trailer was Olaf Olaf Olaf rather than let the true movie
speak for itself which is what it finally did when they released the Let It Go
scene and the movie went from strength to strength from that point on. My first
comment about the Frozen trailer was that it seemed like it was advertising a
Dreamworks movie which is all about the gags than a Disney animated princess
musical classic.

Copyright Viacom International
Inc. All rights reserved. MTV and all related titles &
logos are trademarks
of Viacom International Inc.

Um … Forgive me for pulling a Kanye West to your Taylor
("I'm really happy for you, FuseMP, and I'm gonna let you finish
…"), but the last time I looked, Disney "Frozen" was the
highest grossing animated film of all time. According to Box Office Mojo, this
Walt Disney Animation Studios production's worldwide box office total currently
sits at $1,1292 billion. Not million. Billion. With a "B."

So when a movie sells that many tickets, it's really hard to argue that it was
poorly marketed. If anything, based solely on "Frozen" 's worldwide
grosses, one might argue that the Mouse House's marketing team put together a
highly successful campaign for this WDAS production.


To get to your original point, FuseMP, was
"Frozen" 's original teaser trailer built around Olaf & Sven? Absolutely.
But that was a deliberate choice on Disney's part. When this
minute-and-36-seconds-long teaser bowed back on June 19, 2013 … Well, the Studio's PR team knew that it
would be another five months until "Frozen" held its world premiere
at the El Capitan Theatre on November
19, 2013. Which is why — rather than reveal too much too soon
about this Chris Buck / Jennifer Lee film — the Mouse's marketing staff opted instead
to give people just a taste of "Frozen." Putting together a teaser
trailer that would then play up the humor of this upcoming Walt Disney Pictures

"So why did Disney build this teaser trailer around
Olaf & Sven, rather than Anna & Elsa?," you ask. To be blunt, that
was a deliberate choice. The marketing department worked closely with WDAS
staffers to craft a "Frozen" teaser trailer that would appeal to
males 18 – 24 years-of-age. Which are an audience segment that you just have to
win over if you're looking to insure that your motion picture will then become
a four quadrant box office success.

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

"So when did Anna & Elsa actually enter the
picture, advertising-wise?," you query. Well, the poster that first gave
would-be moviegoers a relatively close look at the sisters was released on
September 16th of last year while "Frozen" 's really-for-real trailer
didn't bow until September 26, 2013.
Which was roughly two months before this WDAS production went into wide release
on November 27th of that same year.

But you wanna know what I find interesting? Take a close
look at the official "Frozen" trailer. Or should I say a close


Do you see what I mean? Over the course of this two-minute-and-32-second
trailer, you don't hear a single note from any of the songs that Kristen &
Bobby Lopez wrote for Disney "Frozen." What you get is a
contemporary-sounding music track that plays under a collection of carefully
chosen scenes that then try & sell this WDAS film as an action-comedy.

Which — I know — may seem disingenuous to animation fans.
Especially now that Disney "Frozen" has become so well known for its
best-selling soundtrack
or the fact that "Let It Go" became such a
sing-along sensation on YouTube and then went on to win the Academy Award for
Best Song


But here's the thing: Back then, Disney's marketing
department was still trying to convince males 18-24 to buy tickets for
"Frozen." And it's tough enough to convince guys in this age group to
come see a feature-length cartoon (mostly because they're concerned about what
their contemporaries might say should it be discovered that this adult male
went to see "a kiddie movie"). But when this same demographic group
discovers that this animated film is supposedly to be a musical … That's a
deal breaker for many males 18 – 24.

In fact, to hear many marketing veterans at Disney Studios
talk, that's the main reason that "The Princess and the Frog
under-performed at the box office back in 2009. That film's title alone was
enough to make many adult males 18 – 24 steer clear of this WDAS production.
But once word got out that this John Musker / Ron Clements movie was also a
musical, guys avoided "Princess" like the plague.

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

Which is why — in the wake of "The Princess and the
Frog" 's disappointing ticket sales — the Mouse's marketing department
insisted that, from here on in, WDAS's princess-based productions have titles
that deliberately steer clear of any mention of these film's royalty &
fairytale-based elements. Which is why "Rapunzel Unbraided" was
rebranded as "Tangled
." And "Elsa and the Snow Queen"
eventually got retitled as "Frozen."

Now what's kind of interesting about these one word / seemingly generic titles
for Walt Disney Animation Studios' most recent princess-based productions is
that they're mostly for the North American market. Whereas overseas, the
Company is perfectly okay with calling a spade a spade. Which is why in France,
for example, "Tangled" is called "Raiponce" (i.e., the
French spelling of Rapunzel) and "Frozen" is called "La Reine
des Neiges" (which translates to "The Snow Queen").

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

Anyway … To back up what I'm saying in today's story,
FuseMP, I need to tell you about what happened on late September of last year.
On September 25th, Nancy & I were among the very first folks to get to see
Disney "Frozen." We drove down to NYC for the day and then got to see
a nearly completed version of this movie (And when I say "nearly
completed," I think that the only thing that was left to do on this WDAS
production at that point was its final sound mix) in Disney's 5th Avenue
screening room. As I recall, there were just 7 – 10 people in the room with us,
with one of those persons being the NYC-based agent who represented both Idina
& Kristen Bell.

Now two days after this screening, I'm out in Burbank
for "Frozen" 's Long Lead media event. And at that time, the members
of the press were only shown 20 minutes of finished footage from this film.

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

"So what exactly were these reporters shown?," you ask. Well, they
did get to see two songs from "Frozen" — "Let It Go" and
Olaf's comic number, "In Summer." But the rest of the footage that we
were shown that morning in the WDAS screening room were action or comedy
scenes. Elsa accidentally revealing her icy magic at her coronation after-party
and then fleeing across the fjord. Anna & Kristoff meeting cute at
Wandering Oaken's Trading Post and Sauna. Anna & Kristoff rappelling off a
steep cliff in an effort to escape from that fearsome snow monster,

About two hours later, I found myself sitting down with
Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee, the directors of "Frozen." Who —
given that I was the only reporter in the building who had actually seen the
whole movie at that point — were as anxious to talk with me about what I thought
of their finished film as I was to talk with them about the way Disney appeared
to be marketing "Frozen" at that point in time.

Jennifer Lee & Chris Buck
introduce Anna from Disney "Frozen" to the press.
Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

Here's a direct transcript of that moment from my interview with Chris &

JIM: The first act of "Frozen" is so strong and so charming.

JENNIFER: Oh, thank you!

JIM:  But to watch the footage that they showed us today, you'd think that
"Frozen" is this epic loaded with action. But you missed all of the
sweet stuff with the younger versions of Anna & Elsa, the songs "Do
You Want to Build a Snowman" and "For the First Time in Forever"

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

JENNIFER: That's true. That's true …

CHRIS: I think why the Studio chose to show that footage today instead of the
other stuff is because people have come to expect — after years & years of
seeing Disney animated features — that the movies we make here are going to be
charming. People now take that aspect of a Disney animated feature for granted.
And I think — by stressing the action portion of "Frozen" — that
Disney is trying to surprise people a little bit here. Make them realize that
"Frozen" is more than just charm & songs.

Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

JENNIFER: Look, audiences have preconceived notions about
these sort of motion pictures. And the marketing team here at Disney, they're
very bright. They seem to know what they're doing. So I trust them. But that
said, it has been kind of frustrating that there haven't been any ads out there
yet that show the full scope of this film. I mean, it wasn't until the trailer
than went out in front of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
" that
they even got the sister story out there. But then again, maybe I'm too close
to the movie. And Disney's whole goal with its marketing campaign for
"Frozen" is to not exclude anyone. Make sure that this movie seems
appealing to all possible audience member …

Which — in the end — is just what Walt Disney Studios' marketing
team did with "Frozen." They rolled out the marketing campaign for
this WDAS production in such a way that — when this Walt Disney Pictures
release went wide in theaters on November 27th (i.e., the Wednesday that kicks
off 2103's long Thanksgiving Day Weekend) — all four quadrants showed up to
support this film

"Four tickets to
'Frozen,' please." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

More to the point, if you compare the $104 million that
"The Princess and the Frog" earned
domestically to the $200.8 million
that "Tangled" earned
domestically to the $399.9 million that
"Frozen" has earned
domestically to date … It's clear that the lessons
that Disney's marketing department staffers learned from "Frog" were
successfully applied to all future WDAS releases.

So getting back to where we got started earlier today,
FuseMP, it's okay for you to say that you didn't like that "Frozen"
teaser trailer when it first debuted in theaters & online back in June of
2013. And you're perfectly within your rights to say that you personally would
have preferred that this teaser featured Anna & Elsa rather than Olaf &
Sven. But to then make the jump from "I didn't personally like the
'Frozen' teaser trailer" to saying that " … I cannot remember the
last good marketing campaign carried out by Disney" when we're talking
about the highest grossing animated film of all time … That's just nonsense,
FuseMP. The number of tickets that this movie has sold to date totally negates
your claim.

Copyright 2014 PMC. All rights

I mean, even you have to acknowledge that — with a $1,1292
billion worldwide box office total (and given that "Frozen" is still
going strong in all sorts of international territories, that number is sure to
climb in the coming weeks & months) — the Mouse's marketing team ultimately
did a brilliant job when it came to selling "Frozen."

Which makes one wonder what Disney now has up their sleeve
when it comes to "Big Hero 6." Because other than this postcard which
was handed out at last year's D23 EXPO

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

…  this
proof-of-concept footage ….


… which shows what the world of San Fransoyko will look
like as well as this concept painting showing a blimp and its passengers …

Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

… there's been next to nothing else out there about
"Big Hero 6." Up until this point, I mean. Though I hear — just as
Disney did with "Frozen" — that there may be a teaser trailer
hitting theaters sometime in June. Which — I'm betting — will frustrate
Disney animation fans like FuseMP. Mostly because, following the
"Frozen" formula,  this
"Big Hero 6" teaser trailer will be long on tease and short on substance.

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 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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