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Huffington Post — I Remember Papa: Jonathan Winter’s Smurfy swan song

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When it came time to find just the right voice for Papa Smurf, Raja Gosnell and
Jordan Kerner were admittedly feeling a little blue. Why For? Because the
casting department at Sony Pictures Animation kept coming up short.


(L to R) Sony Pictures Digital Production president Bob Osher, director Raja
Gosnell  and producer Jordan Kerner at the Los Angeles premiere of "The
Smurfs 2." Photo by Michael Buckner / Getty Images North America

"This was back in early 2010 when we had just begun
casting the first film," Kerner — the producer of "The Smurfs
"
and "The Smurfs 2
" (which was released earlier this week on Blu-ray 3D,
Blu-ray, DVD and digital) recalled during a recent phone interview. "And
we were genuinely struggling when it came to finding just the right performer
to come voice Papa Smurf. The person we were looking for had to have a certain
amount of gravitas in their voice because, of course, Papa is the leader of the
Smurfs. But — at the same time — this voice also had to have a certain impish
quality because of that humorous glint you often see in Papa's eye."

"So we were listening to a lot of different
people," Gosnell — the director of both of SPA's "Smurfs" films
— continued. "And as we listened to all of these tapes that David Rubin
— our casting director — had put together, Jordan and I would stare at this
still image of Papa Smurf that we had taped up on the wall. And we'd then try
and imagine that voice coming out of Papa's mouth in our movie."

But then one day, David played Jordan & Raja a recording
that had everything that they had been looking for. Here finally was a voice
that had the sound of wisdom & life experience as well as a twinkle of fun.

[View:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwWDa1xPTPA]

"So I asked David who we were listening to. And he said
Jonathan Winters," Kerner remembered. "Which kind of shocked me
because — when I was growing up — Winters had been a family favorite.
Whenever Jonathan appeared on shows like Jack Paar, my parents and I would then
gather around the television and then laugh ourselves sick over his amazing
improv routines. So to have not been able to initially recognize his voice when
I'd been such a huge Winters fan for so long was kind of a surprise to me. But
then again, given that Jonathan had this seemingly magical ability to conjure
up new characters & voices out of thin air, I guess that it really
shouldn't have surprised me that a performer of his stature still had the
ability to surprise."

"Even so, it had been quite a while since Jonathan had
last worked. He was in his 80s at this point and we didn't know if he'd even be
willing or able to take on a new project at this point in his career. But even
so, Jordan and I had to try. Because if we could convince Jonathan Winters to
come voice Papa Smurf, that would be a huge casting coup for our
production," Gosnell said. "So Jordan and I did this Skype interview
with Jonathan. And he was so sweet and still so sharp. Right in the middle of
that call, Jonathan just sort of went off and did all of these fantastic
characters for us. And from that moment on, we knew that we had found our Papa
Smurf."

Which isn't to say that there weren't some challenges
involved when it came to working with a comedy legend like Jonathan Winters.
Kerner recalled with equal parts affection & frustration the many hours
that he spent in a recording booth trying to rein in this improvisational
genius.


Copyright Sony Pictures Animation.
All rights reserved

"This is a guy who could hear one word — it might have
been a comment that Raj made during a recording session — and then for the
next 20 minutes, Jonathan would just take off on some wild extemporaneous
comedic run. Right there in front of you, he'd improvise this bit where he was
playing every single character in a World War II movie. And he had the entire
room in hysterics," Jordan
said. "Now as the little kid who grew up watching Jonathan Winters on
television, I loved this. But as the producer of a motion picture who was
paying for this studio recording time on an hourly basis, all I could think was
that I was laughing my way through our production budget. So every so often, I
had to put on my producer's hat and then say 'Jonathan, I love this. I love
you. But could we please maybe save of this stuff for lunchtime? ' "

And given what a complete professional Winters was, Jonathan would then — of
course — get right back to work and then give Gosnell & Kerner everything
that they were looking for, and then some, when it came to voicing Papa Smurf.
But in the end, what mattered  more to
Raja & Jordan was how frank & open this comedy legend was with them
once these three got away from that recording booth.

"We'd always take Jonathan to lunch after our 'Smurfs'
recording sessions. And during those sorts of down times, it wasn't always him
putting up a character. He was very open about his personal life. Very open
about the darker times and some of the struggles that he'd had over the course
of his career," Raja said. "And especially when we were working on
the first film … Well, Jonathan never actually came out and said these words.
But it felt like — this is me analyzing here — he sort of felt forgotten.
Like the entertainment world had kind of passed him by. Which is why he was so thrilled
that we'd invited him to be part of our movie. And — of course — Jordan &
I were just as thrilled that Jonathan had agreed to come out of  semi-retirement and then come voice Papa
Smurf."


Copyright Sony Pictures Animation. All rights reserved

Now jump ahead to the Summer of 2011 when "The Smurfs" is this
worldwide smash hit, having grossed over a half a billion dollars worldwide. As
every good producer does, Kerner would send out regular e-mails to that film's
cast & crew to then keep them abreast of how well their movie was doing at
the office.

"And Jonathan would always e-mail me back. Which is when it quickly became
clear that he was getting this huge kick out of how successful 'The Smurfs'
was," Jordan
remembered. "In fact, when we first began working on the second 'Smurfs'
movie, Jonathan actually went out of his way to tell Raja and I what a grand
thing it was for a  person at this point
in their lives to now be part of this worldwide hit where you are the voice of
the most loved character in this movie. Of course, we then had to remind
Jonathan that the main reason that people loved Papa Smurf so much was the unique
way that he did the voice of this character."

Speaking of "The Smurfs 2" … As production began to gear up on this
live action / animated hybrid, Gosnell & Kerner began to hear from members
of Winters' family that this 87 year-old's health was fading.


Jordan Kerner with Jonathan Winters at this comedy legend's last recording
session on "The Smurfs 2." Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

"So we'd sort of check in him regularly, ask how's he
doing. Not so much because we were worried about our movie. But — rather —
because Jordan and I now thought of Jonathan as a friend. More importantly,
because Jonathan had already told us that he was really looking forward to
working on 'Smurfs 2' and voicing Papa Smurf again," Raja said. "So
we eventually got started on that movie. And there were a couple of times that
Jonathan couldn't record. We'd hear that he was weak and that he wasn't doing
very well. So we hoped for the best. But from knowing him and reading the tea
leaves, we kind of sensed that the end was near."

But even so, given that Winters so obviously wanted to work on "The Smurfs
2," wanted to complete recording Papa Smurf's part, Raja & Jordan
journeyed to Santa Barbara and
recorded his character's last few lines of dialogue in a studio close to
Jonathan's home.

"He and I, we both drove out to Santa
Barbara. We were nervous that we wouldn't see him again.
There had been this weakness right towards the end. And we just wanted to spend
some time with Jonathan because he'd done so much for us. So we went up because
he really wanted to record. At that moment, we weren't really worried about
recording. I mean, there were only three, four, five lines that we needed to
record for the movie. But we sat with him for a long time. His daughter Lucinda
was there.  His caretaker was
there," Kerner recalled.


Raja Gosnell with Jonathan Winters. Image courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

"Jonathan had the most beautific look on his face that
day. As if he already had a foot on the other side or that he'd seen the other
side. There was something so peaceful about him. His nature then. But there was
also this weakness," Gosnell said. "Even so, Jonathan wanted to work.
He wanted to complete recording Papa Smurf's dialogue for this movie. So he'd
say a line and then sort of go away for three minutes at a time. And then he'd
circle back and you'd know that he was ready to do another take. It was kind of
beautiful & kind of sad because Jordan and I both sensed that this was
going to be the very last time that we were going to see him."

"Now you have to understand Raj and I never take photographs during a
recording session with any of our actors. But that day, I took pictures of Raja
with his arms around Jonathan and Raj took some of me. It was just one of those
moments where you realize that here is someone who was such a gift and gave us
so much on these two films. A gift of humor and a gift of humanity. And I just
wanted something to remember that day by," Kerner concluded. "He was
as bright as he could have been in that moment. And he gave a fantastic
performance. And then we all just hugged and chatted. It was a beautiful day in
Santa Barbara. And I just sat there
thinking 'What a pro.' "

Jonathan Winters passed away on April 11, 2013 just a few weeks after this
off-the-lot recording session. To honor their friend and all that he'd done for
them personally & professionally, Gosnell & Kerner went to Sony
officials and asked them to dedicate "The Smurfs 2" to this comedy
legend. Which studio exes immediately agreed to.


Copyright Sony Pictures Animation. All rights reserved

And what with Sony Pictures Animation having already announced an August 15, 2015 release date for their next Smurfs movie, what are Raja & Jordan's
thoughts when it comes to recasting the voice of Papa Smurf.

"Look, there was only one Jonathan Winter. So we're not going to hire
someone to come try and do a Jonathan Winters impression. That would be a huge
mistake, sad for us personally and a discredit to his memory," Kerner
explained. "So I'm thinking that we'll probably go the James Bond route.
In that — just as it is when Sean Connery or Daniel Craig plays 007 — a
different performer can put an entirely different spin on a character. That's
what I think we'll now do with Papa Smurf. That way, in much the same way that
baby boomers like myself who wax nostalgically for Sean Connery, there'll be
this whole generation of Smurf fans who do the same thing for Jonathan Winter's
version of Papa Smurf. Which — given the great vocal performance he gave as
this character  — I completely
understand."


If you're still looking for that perfect gift for Grandma, Aunt Pat or Uncle Earle please
click on the banner below. If you do that … well, JimHillMedia.com then gets a teeny,
tiny chunk of whatever you spend at Amazon.com

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

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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