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Joe Ranft: Someone who made the world a better place

JHM guest writer Leo N. Holzer delivers a heartfelt piece about the celebration of Joe’s life that was held at Pixar Animation Studios last month.



Hey, gang:

Jim Hill here. It’s been a little more than two months since we lost Joe Ranft. And — to be honest — there’s still a lot of us out here who dearly miss the big guy.

Toward that end, I thought that I’d share a story that Leo N. Holzer wrote about the celebration of Joe’s life that was held at Pixar Animation Studios back on September 17th.

I realize that this piece has previously been printed in the newsletter of the Northern California chapter of the N.F.F.C. (Not to mention being posted over on the discussion boards at But it’s such a great piece of writing and does such a nice job of summing up the event that I felt it was important to reprint it. To make sure that this article reached as wide an audience as possible.

Sooo … Without further ado, here’s Mr. Holzer with his story about Mr. Ranft …

This is in tribute to Joe Ranft, who died in an automobile accident Aug. 16, 2005. He was 45 years old and leaves behind a wife, Su; a son, Jordy; and a daughter, Sophia; as well as his extended family at Pixar.

Some dedicated Disney and Pixar film fans might only know Joe Ranft as a gifted storyboard artist who left his mark as the voice of Heimlich the caterpillar in “A Bug’s Life” and Wheezy the penguin in “Toy Story II” or that he was one of the key story artists who helped craft Pixar’s first hit, “Toy Story.” Some others — those who’ve watched the bonus material in Pixar DVDs –might have a deeper knowledge and appreciation of Joe Ranft’s talents.

But Joe Ranft’s film legacy is far more reaching. He’s worked on more projects than quite possibly anyone else at Pixar. His early days at Disney started with “The Brave Little Toaster” and included work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Oliver & Company,” “The Rescuers Down Under,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King” and “Fantasia 2000.” He teamed up with his friend and Cal Arts peer Tim Burton on “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “James and the Giant Peach” and is credited as one of the producers for “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.”

At Pixar, he’s been one of the creative sparkplugs keeping the production engines humming, delivering remarkable films to entertain people of all ages in every corner of the world. There’s not a Pixar production that hasn’t benefitted from Joe Ranft’s creativity and story genius. His work, especially on “Beauty and the Beast,” “Lion King,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the landmark “Toy Story” and the upcoming “Cars,” will entertain audiences for generations to come.

I never got to meet Joe Ranft in person — but we did talk on the phone a few times as he promoted Pixar’s films. I’ll never forget our last conversation … I called him at home on a Sunday about a year ago to invite him to be a guest speaker for one of our NFFC Chapter meetings in Sacramento. His wife, Su, answered and told me that he had stepped out but to call back a bit later in the day. I did, apologizing for bothering his family at home. The Ranfts were extremely gracious about it, both Su and Joe. And — as guilty as I might feel about interrupting his family time — I’m glad for those few minutes. I’m glad that I was able to tell Joe Ranft how much I admired Pixar’s films and his vocal work. Joe Ranft politely set aside the invitation. He said he was too busy working on “Cars” but told me to call him back “next year” if I could wait.

The news of his sudden and untimely death stunned me. He was born on March 13, 1960 and was just a year older than myself. I could only read blog accounts and imagine how his colleagues at Pixar were dealing with the loss, especially John Lasseter. The two have become good friends over the years — sharing a love of storytelling and researching their projects from the trip to a Toys R’ Us store for “Toy Story” to a memorable cross-country tour of Route 66 for the upcoming “Cars.”

“I’d never in a million years trade that trip down Route 66, the Mother Road,” Lasseter said.

From the blogs, I learned about the Sept. 17 celebration of Joseph Henry Ranft’s life at Pixar and managed to get invited. I wanted to learn more about this “gentle giant,” to share some tears and a bit more laughter than I had expected with those who knew and worked with him. I wanted to thank the creative colleagues he’s left behind for outstanding work — an unparalleled string of entertaining successes. Over the years, I’ve interviewed a half-dozen of the top talents at Pixar — all by phone. Here was a chance to meet them in person, if only to thank them for an impressive body of work and offer my sincere condolences.

“This is a big loss for us here at Pixar,” John Lasseter said as he welcomed a few hundred guests to the Emeryville studio. “But we’re here to celebrate Joe, his life, his creativity, his heart. The impact he made goes way beyond the credits of the films he’s worked on.”

Lasseter talked about Joe Ranft’s ability to inspire others with his own infectious enthusiasm for a film. Right away at the beginning of a project, Joe Ranft would see something in the story and that “spark of an idea would inspire him. He’d storyboard the sequence and inspire us,” Lasseter said. Joe Ranft’s efforts became “the nucleus of creativity” that would benefit the entire film and everyone working on it.

Lasseter recounted a “Toy Story” storyboard session featuring the Green Army Men and the reconnaissance mission at the beginning of the film. It was one of the first scenes storyboarded and it was “just magic when he pitched it,” Lasseter said. It was one of many times that Joe Ranft nailed a sequence on his first pitch.

Disney animator John Musker talked about working with Joe Ranft back in the days even before Michael Eisner’s arrival. He talked about Joe Ranft’s passion for the craft of filmmaking and storytelling. He pointed out several of the sound-effect words Joe Ranft printed on his storyboards like “BLOORT,” as Cogsworth is dislodged from a mound of Jell-O in a scene from “Beauty and the Beast.”

Musker also screened a film of his own drawings in tribute to Joe Ranft’s life. It included such highlights as a young Joe getting in trouble with the nuns at parochial school, Joe Ranft’s stint and a stunt he pulled at an ice cream parlor, his love affair with Su, Joe Ranft as a proud father and finally as a beautiful butterfly heaven bound. This eulogy, featuring emotionally moving pictures, told me so much about Joe Ranft and why he was so beloved at home and work. It was a gracious gesture from a longtime friend. Musker was recognized for his efforts with a standing ovation and a room full of teary-eyed faces.

Pete Docter, director of “Monsters, Inc.,” talked about “this most amazing effect Joe had on other people.” Joe Ranft was among the alumni teachers at Cal Arts when Docter was a student there. “For Joe, teaching wasn’t just lecturing. It was helping us get jobs, sticking his neck out for other people. I wouldn’t be where I am today, here at Pixar, if it hadn’t been for Joe Ranft.”

Docter talked about receiving a letter and some sketches from a prison inmate and being a bit unnerved, but Joe Ranft picked up the letter and sent the inmate an encouraging note and some art books that he bought with his own money.

“He encouraged everyone,” Docter said. “He always found something positive to say. Joe is big part of Pixar. He’d have faith in a project even when it sucked.”

Still, this self-assurance that reassured others wasn’t second-nature for Joe Ranft, “it was very intentional and he worked at it,” Docter said.

The day also included numerous photos of Joe Ranft growing up, with his family and friends, pictures and video of him at school, at work and at play — acting the part of a clown, amazing a crowd with a bit of sleight-of-hand magic or doing his impression of a hillbilly with his Billy Bob teeth. He was a fun-loving, hard-working good guy.

Other speakers included actress Bonnie Hunt, who said Joe was the “Dean Martin to John Lasseter’s Frank Sinatra” in the Pixar Rat Pack, and magician Carl Willat who spoke of Joe’s Ranft’s love of magic — a well-honed hobby. Willat performed the torn and restored newspaper trick to honor his friend. Other colleagues also spoke. Randy Newman performed two songs on video, unable to attend in person but wanting to be part of the tribute.

Another one of the emotional highlights came as the storyboard artists at Pixar each pinned up a panel dedicated to Joe Ranft. They each said a sentence or two about their drawing and a few broke into tears. They recounted Joe Ranft’s ability to find something good in everyone’s portfolio, the extra 5-minutes he’d give you in the parking lot at the end of a long day, and one recounted the stories proud papa Joe Ranft would tell about his son Jordy’s latest achievements. Even Lasseter joined in, thanking Joe Ranft for being “so tall that you always kept the top row straight,” pulling out a step-stool to add his frame to the top center of the board. Joe Ranft’s favorite pitch stick was then retired.

“Joe cherished the process and trusted it,” Lasseter said. At some point with every film, we’d find ourselves with story problems “working on the worst picture ever, but Joe just sat there smiling.” Joe Ranft had a saying above his office door at Pixar … THE JOURNEY IS THE REWARD and he had this faith in the skills of the team at Pixar and what they were doing. They’d continue to hone and then plus the story until everyone was pleased with the results. The public responded and Pixar’s reputation only grew stronger with each new release.

“We joked that storyboarding was really story reboarding and on ‘Cars,’ it had become story salvage. I thought we’d break a record of horrible sequences with ‘Cars,’ ” Lasseter said. “We were lost in a maze but Joe knew if you just kept walking eventually you’ll get out of the maze.”

The studio is nearly done with “Cars” and Lasseter believes that Joe Ranft’s greatest film achievement came in his story ideas for Mater the tow truck character in upcoming Summer 2006 release. Mater is the world’s best backwards driver and is one of the standout characters in “Cars.”

“When you see the smiles in the audiences as they watch ‘Cars,’ that’s Joe Ranft,” Lasseter said.

That was Joe Ranft’s gift to the world. He was someone who magically made the world a better place with laughter, with joy, and even through tears — think of all those moments of pathos in Pixar’s films. He was one of the world’s best storytellers and entertainers. This is the picture of Joe Ranft, illustrated by loving words, art and cherished memories from his friends and colleagues.

Recognize Joe Ranft’s talents and remember … the journey is the reward. Enjoy and celebrate life on a daily basis.

Joe Ranft, God blessed us all with your extraordinary life.

Donations may be made to:

The Joseph Henry Ranft Memorial Fund
in care of Pixar Animation Studios,
1200 Park Ave., Emeryville, CA


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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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