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Jeff Calhoun talks about the new & improved Disney “Newsies” before ducking out to work on a “Duck Dynasty” show for Las Vegas

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Disney's Newsies

So when the good people of Pittsburgh head out for the Benedum Center later this week to catch the North American touring company of Disney “Newsies,” will they be seeing an exact duplicate of the Tony Award-winning show that ran for 2 1/2 years on Broadway?

Nope. And you have Thomas Schumacher, the president of the Disney Theatrical Group to thank for that.

“Look, no one ever walked out of a theater saying that a show was too short,” said Jeff Calhoun, the director of Disney “Newsies.” “And Tom Schumacher? He’s not a guy who settles. Tom wasn’t satisfied with just cloning the Broadway production of this show and then sending it out. So he turned  to Harvey (Fierstein, who wrote the book for the stage adaptation of this 1992 Walt Disney Pictures release) and Jack (Feldman, who wrote the lyrics for the film & the stage version of ‘Newsies’) and Alan (Menken, who wrote the Tony Award-winning score for this show) and myself and Chris (Gattelli, who also won a Tony for choreographing ‘Newsies’) and said ‘Listen. This is your shot. If there’s anything that you want to do, let’s do it now.’ “

The original company of the North American tour of Disney “Newsies.” Photo by Deen van Meer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And as it turns out, the “Newsies” creative team did have a punch list of things that they’d wanted to tweak about this show. Take — for example — the character of Crutchie.

“In the original Broadway production of “Newsies,’ Crutchie was front and center in Act One in this show. Which is understandable, given that this character is supposed to be Jack Kelly’s best friend. And when Crutchie gets snatched by Snyder and then gets taken back to the Refuge, everyone in the audience feels bad,” Jeff explained. “But then this character stayed off-stage for most of Act Two. So when Crutchie came back at the end of in the original version of the Broadway production of ‘Newsies,’ people were like ‘Oh, yeah. I forgot about him.’ So we did some work to remind the audience about Crutchie and to complete that character’s arc in the second act.”

And how exactly did Calhoun & Co. do that? By giving Crutchie his very own number in Act Two.

Stephanie Styles (Katherine) and Dan DeLuca (Jack Kelly) in the North American touring company of Disney “Newsies.” Photo by Deen van Meer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“‘Letter from the Refuge’ isn’t a particularly elaborate number. It’s just Crutchie in his bed after-hours at the Refuge writing a letter to Jack. But the new song that Alan & Jack wrote for this character has done exactly what it was supposed to when it comes to the audience on the road,” Jeff continued. “It’s reminding them that Crutchie actually wound up in that hellhole because Jack Kelly and the newsboys went on strike. More to the point, because Kelly knows from personal experience how terrible the Refuge is, Jack realizes that  Crutchie won’t last long in an awful place like that. So thanks to this new song, the second act of the North American touring company of Disney ‘Newsies’ has an emotional urgency that the original Broadway version of this show didn’t. The Jack character is now under increased additional pressure to compromise. End the newsboy strike as quickly as possible. Otherwise Crutchie might die in that place.”

“That’s what I like about all the changes & the trims that we’ve made to the touring version of ‘Newsies,’ ” Calhoun stated. “So many times when you see the touring version of a musical, it’s just this cut-down version of the original Broadway show. But Disney didn’t want to do that with ‘Newsies.’ Tom was adamant about that. He wanted to the touring version of this show to be as good as — if not better than — the Broadway version.”

Which — given “Newsies” mammoth metal set (i.e., 3 three-story-tall movable towers that have to represent everything from the tenement rooftop that Jack & Crutchie call home to Medda’s theater to the sub-basement of The World’s publishing plant) — was something of a challenge.

Photo by Deen van Meer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“I actually think that’s why Disney held off on touring this show for a few years. They first had to figure out how we travel with six tons of scaffolding. Because each of those towers weighs two tons. And since we didn’t want to creatively compromise the North American touring company of ‘Newsies,’ this version of the show has three towers. We have the same exact footprint as New York,” Jeff said. “The only difference between the set for Broadway version & the touring version of “Newsies’ is that the folks at Hudson Scenery made the touring version of those towers so that they could be taken apart and then get put back together very quickly.”

“We had some NASA-level brains working on that problem,” Calhoun laughed. “Because when you’re touring with a full-sized recreation of a Broadway show, the economic reality is that you can only have so many trucks. So you have to find clever ways to make things work. Take — for example — all the scenes that are set inside of Medda’s theater. The proscenium that we used in the Broadway version of ‘Newsies’ for that part of the show was a very heavy wooden piece. Which just wouldn’t work on the road. So Tobin Ost — the set designer for ‘Newsies’ — took that large wooden set piece and turned it into curtains. And you know what? As a direct result of that weight-driven change, swapping out that heavy wooden proscenium for curtains, Medda’s scenes in the touring version of this show are that much more beautiful.”

But the changes that have been made to the North American touring company of Disney “Newsies” haven’t been restricted to just the show’s songs and sets. Given that most of the performers that Jeff picked for the touring cast are new to the show, he took this opportunity to work with Christopher Gattelli to tweak this acclaimed musical’s choreography & blocking.

Photo by Deen van Meer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Look, Chris & I created the blocking and the choreography for the Broadway version of ‘Newsies’ from the DNA of the original cast. And now with the North American touring version of the show, we have a different cast and a different DNA. And when you ask performers to just duplicate exactly what someone else did … Well, you’re just going to wind up with a pale imitation,” Calhoun continued. “Which is why the stage pictures that Chris and I created for the touring company of ‘Newsies’ will reflect the new company as will the choreography and the blocking. Mind you, we’re not looking to destroy what worked about the Broadway version of ‘Newsies.’ That’ll still all be there. We just also want the touring version of this show to make the most of the talents of this particular version of the cast.”

That’s the real fun of talking with Jeff Calhoun about Disney “Newsies.” The obvious pride that he takes in having staged a show in NYC that allowed 32 different kids to make their Broadway debuts.

“I mean, when I look up onstage and see the young man who’s playing the role of Race in this, I can’t help but think that that’s how old I was when I first began dancing professionally. I was in ‘Anything Goes’ with Ann Miller. That’s the show I got my Equity card on,” Calhoun recalled. “So there’s not a day that goes where I don’t see myself in these kids. And that — to me, anyway — is a huge part of the appeal of ‘Newsies.’ That, as you’re watching this show and seeing all those energetic young people up there on stage, this is the future of live theater right there in front of you. It’s very moving. Even talking about it now, I get very moved.”

Dan DeLuca (Jack Kelly) and Jeff Calhoun (R), the director of Disney “Newsies,” talk during a rehearsal break for the North American touring company of this Tony Award -winning musical. Photo by Deen van Meer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Another aspect of being associated with this Disney Theatrical Production that Jeff really enjoys is the letters & e-mails that he gets from dance studios & instructors from all over the country who share stories about all the boys and young men who have been coming & and signing up for classes. All because they want to someday perform in a show like “Newsies.”

“You know, I’m of the generation that — when I was a kid growing up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh — it was ‘A Chorus Line.’ That was the show that we all dreamed of going to New York and appearing in. So to have been a part of creating something that excites those kids who are out there now in the suburbs of middle America, makes them dream of coming to Broadway someday … It’s honestly hard to put into words,” Calhoun stated.

“But I will say this much: You can already see the impact that ‘Newsies’ has had. Back when we were initially casting the pilot production of this show — you know, the one we did at the Paper Mill Playhouse back in 2011? — we had a very hard time casting this show because no one knew yet what ‘Newsies’ was all about. So we really had to beat the bushes to find dancers who could do this show,” Jeff continued. “But when it came time to put together ‘Newsies’ North American tour, this time they found us. As soon as that casting call went out, dancers came from all over the country. It was actually kind of heartwarming to see. You can’t say that about every show.”

Photo by Deen van Meer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So as “Newsies” gets ready to make its Pittsburgh debut, will Calhoun be there, playing his local-boy-made-good card? To be honest, given that Jeff needs to get to work on his next project (which will be — I kid you not — a 90 minute-long stage revue for the Rio Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas which will based on that A & E reality series, “Duck Dynasty”),  this director / choreographer wasn’t sure when we last talked.

“That’s just the nature of this business. You really want to be in the moment, to savor the success, but then it’s time to move on to your next gig,” Calhoun concluded. “There’s just no rhyme or reason to this business. The shows where you have high expectations, you’re often disappointed. And vice versa. That’s why you treat each one the same. You love every show like your own kids and let the chips fall where they may. You work just as hard on the flops as you do the hits. It’s a miracle that it ever works, to be candid with you.”

This article was originally posted on the Huffington Post’s Entertainment page on Sunday, November 23, 2014

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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