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Is Disney-MGM due for a name change?

The word is out that — by June of this year — the Walt Disney Company may be forced to remove any & all references to “MGM” at its WDW studio theme park. Jim Hill fills you in on the various twists & turns of this tale.



Could it be that D-Day — the day that Disney-MGM managers have been dreading for more than a decade now — is just a few months away?

“Which ‘D-Day’ are you talking about, Jim?,” you query. “Surely not the World War II version.” Nope, the D-Day that I’m talking about is Delete Day. As in: The day that WDW personnel have to go around Disney-MGM Studio theme park and remove every single reference to the word “MGM.”

“Why will Disney have to do that?,” you sputter. Because the Walt Disney Company’s 20-year-long licensing agreement with the MGM/UA corporation will be expiring this June. On June 27th, to be exact. Which means that — as of that date — the Mouse will lose any & all rights to use the “MGM” name as well as Leo the Lion’s likeness in a theme park setting.

Clearly, this is a moment that Mickey is not looking forward to. Whereas over at MGM … The way I hear it  — for years now — MGM/UA execs have been counting the days down ’til the Disney licensing deal expires. So that they can finally put this whole embarrassing episode behind them.

“What’s so embarrassing about MGM/UA licensing the use of its name to the Walt Disney Company?,” you ask. Well, let’s start with the financial terms of this deal. Where Disney got the license to use the “MGM” name as well as Leo’s likeness for what basically amounts to chump change.

“What do you mean by ‘chump change’?,” you continue. Well, under the terms of this 20-year-long agreement, Disney only had to pay MGM/UA $100,000 a year for the use of that studio’s name during the first three years of this agreement. Starting in the fourth year (I.E. The year that Disney-MGM would actually open its gates and begin operation as a really-for-real theme park), this annual licensing fee would then jump up to $250,000 a year. And then — with each subsequent year — that fee would continue to creep up in $50,000 increments. Until it eventually topped out at $1 million a year in the 20th year of the agreement.

Now keep in mind that — in addition to these licensing rights — this agreement that Disney’s lawyers hammered out with MGM/UA’s executives also gave the Imagineers access to up to 250 titles from the MGM/UA film vault. Which WDI could then use as inspiration for settings and/or attractions to be featured in the studio theme park.

“But why would MGM officials ever agree to sell off the rights to such valuable intellectual property at such low, low prices?,” you sputter. Well, you have to understand that — back in the mid-1980s — Frank Rothman (I.E. the then-chairman & CEO of MGM/UA Entertainment) was actually thrilled to make this deal with Disney.

Why for? Because MGM/UA was swimming in a sea of red ink back in 1985. $59 million dollars worth, to be precise. So any & all cash that was coming in the company’s coffers at that time was thought of as a good thing.

At least that’s what Rothman thought until MGM owner Kirk Kerkorian finally learned about the exact terms of the Disney licensing deal. Kirk was simply stunned that Frank had sold off the rights to the MGM name & logo for such a ridiculously low fee. Which was why Kerkorian immediately ordered MGM’s lawyers to find a way to break the deal that Rothman had just signed with the Walt Disney Disney.

After repeatedly pouring over the 31-page contract, MGM/UA’s attorneys finally found a loophole that they thought that they could work with. It seemed that the Imagineers had neglected to mention — as part of the original agreement — that the Walt Disney Company actually intended to make movies at its soon-to-be-opening studio theme park. WDI also allegedly forgot to tell MGM’s lawyers that Disney planned on building two huge luxury hotels (I.E. The Dolphin & the Swan) directly across the street from Disney/MGM.

This — to MGM/UA’s way of thinking, anyway — put the Disney/MGM Studio theme park project in direct conflict with the movie studio and luxury hotels that MGM was already operating. Not to mention putting the kibosh on the movie-themed theme park that Mr. Kerkorian was thinking about building as part of the $1 billion dollar MGM Grand casino project that he had planned for Las Vegas.

Feeling that MGM/UA’s lawyers had raised enough legitimate concerns about the licensing deal that Rothman had cut with Disney to finally bring this case to trial, MGM/UA and MGM Grand, Inc. (I.E. Kerkorian’s company) then filed a $100 million breach of contract suit against the Walt Disney Company in Los Angeles Superior Court in May of 1988.

Disney — in turn — filed a counter-suit against MGM. And — after several years of legal wrangling — this non-jury trial finally got underway in the Fall of 1992. With Judge Curtis R. Rappe presiding, attomeys for the Walt Disney Company, MGM/UA and MGM Grand Inc. each began to plead their cases. All with the hope that his Honor would then see the validity of their company’s claims to the MGM name.

Of course, what added additional pressure to these proceedings was the fact that — by October of 1992 — Kerkorian had already broken ground for his MGM Grand theme park. Which was why it was now crucial for MGM/UA’s lawyers to come out ahead in this case.

After listening to testimony from both Kerkorian as well as Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Judge Curtis delivered what many saw as a Solomon-like judgment. MGM/UA and MGM Grand Inc. would be allowed to use the “MGM” name as well as the Leo the Lion logo as part of their then-still-under-construction theme park and casino complex. PROVIDED that the Las Vegas theme park did not resemble in any way the faux studio backlot setting that the Imagineers had created in Central Florida.

Disney — in turn — would still be able to call its Central Florida studio theme park “Disney-MGM” for the full 20-year-term of the company’s original agreement with MGM/UA. Judge Curtis even awarded the Mouse the rights to call any other studio theme parks that the corporation built ’round the world “Disney-MGM.”

“So — if that’s really the case — then why isn’t the ‘Walt Disney Studios’ theme park in Paris called ‘Disney-MGM’?,” you query. Sadly, Kerkorian’s attorneys took Mickey back to court in the Fall of 1997. They pointed out that Disney’s original agreement with Rothman included language that specifically stated that the theme park rights to the MGM name would revert back to the parent corporation if the Walt Disney Company failed to begin construction of any theme parks that were to feature the MGM name after the ninth anniversary of the original signing date of this deal had passed.

Given that — due to Euro Disney SCA’s continuing financial problems — Disney had missed its original target dates for the start of construction on the “Disney-MGM Studios Europe” project (I.E. The studio’s production facilities were originally supposed to be open by the Spring of 1994, with the actual theme park wasn’t slated to open ’til April of 1995), the judge in this case had no choice but to return the theme park naming rights to MGM’s parent company. Which is why DLP’s second gate wound up being called “Walt Disney Studios.”

Anyway … The really ironic part of this whole convoluted court case is that — after Kirk fought so long & so hard & spent so much of MGM’s money in an effort to regain the MGM theme park naming rights — Kerkorian’s “MGM Grand Adventures” theme park turned out to be this huge disappointment. Though this $120 million theme park featured seven rides and five shows when it opened in December of 1993, MGM GA never quite caught on with the folks who frequented Las Vegas.

After seven years of struggling, “MGM Grand Adventures” finally closed its doors in December of 2000. As I understand it, most of the rides in the 33 acre theme park were then quickly sold off. As for the rest of the park … Well, I hear that MGM GA’s highly themed “lands” — like New York Street, Paris Street and Old England Street — are now being used for corporate functions & private parties at this resort.

But — in spite of the failure of Las Vegas’ “Grand Adventure” — MGM/UA management still strongly believes that a theme park that is built around this historic Hollywood studio’s library of memorable motion pictures & colorful characters could be a huge financial success. Particularly in those parts of Asia (I.E. India & China) that both Disney & Universal are currently considering as possible expansion areas for their theme park empires. Which is why this company is most anxious to get back the exclusive rights to use the MGM name in a theme park setting.

As for the Walt Disney Company … Given that MGM/UA was actually acquired by the Sony Corporation back in September of 2004, there’s reportedly already been some talk between these two multimedia giants. To see if there might be some way to prolong the licensing agreement that allows the Walt Disney Company to use the “MGM” name in a theme park setting. At least for another couple of years.

Of course, in order to get Sony to do something like this, Disney would have to make some sort of huge concession to the Tokyo-based electronics giant. This may explain why — back in December of last year — in spite of the fact that virtually every other major studio (I.E. Paramount, Warner, Universal & New Line Cinema) in the business had announced that they would soon begin releasing movies in the HD-DVD high definition format, the Walt Disney Company suddenly revealed that it would be releasing its films in the Blu-ray format. Which (not-so-coincidentally) is the same DVD format that the Sony Corporation favors.

Did Disney deliberately decide to go with Blu-ray just because it wishes to retain the “MGM” name at its Florida studio theme? Most likely not. But — that said — one can’t help but think that the folks at Sony will now look favorably upon the Mouse. All because Mickey & his marketing might have decided to get behind the high definition DVD format that their corporation is championing. Rather than the one that Sony’s rivals (I.E. Toshiba & NEC) are currently pushing.

As to whether this somewhat generous / politically advantageous gesture will now make it possible for Disney to negotiate an extension of its MGM licensing deal … Who can say?

But what I can tell you is that Disney-MGM managers have already allegedly begun preparing the staff at that theme park for what may happen on the evening of June 27th. When Disney employees would then have to sweep through that theme park and remove each & every reference to “MGM.”

Just so you understand the scale of what we’re talking about here: That would entail everything from replacing all the highway signs out along I-4 and World Drive that direct guests to the studio theme park right down to changing the name tags & business cards of each & every Disney-MGM cast member. Every poster, every brochure, every t-shirt and baseball cap would have to be replaced. The projected costs for this property-wide change-out that we’re talking about here could easily climb into the millions.

Not to mention all the hassles involved with reeducating the public — not to mention WDW cast members — about the theme park’s new name (I.E. “It’s not the Disney-MGM Studio theme park anymore. It’s now just called the Walt Disney Studios”). It may take years for the new name for this 14-year-old theme park to be accepted & absorbed.

So is it any wonder that the Walt Disney Company is still hoping that the Sony Corporation might eventually be persuaded to allow the Mouse to continue to use the MGM name? Because otherwise … Well, things could get pretty confusing around Orlando come the morning of June 28th.

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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