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Joke for One

Though Jim’s out in Southern California doing divorced daddy duty, he still managed to churn out an entertaining article for the site. This piece details some of the subtler — and sometimes obscene — gags that the Imagineers slip into their shows that feature AA figures.

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How many of you out there are familiar with Tom Morrow, the Audio Animatronic figure (voiced by Nathan Lane) that hosts the “Innoventions” exhibit in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland?

I mean really familiar. As in: You haven’t just watched this robot do all of his intro spiels to the various areas in “Innoventions.” You’ve actually hung around to watch this AA figure AFTER the rest of the guests have moved on. As Tom waits to spiel to the next set of Disneyland guests who enter the theater-go-round building.

What? You haven’t had a chance to do this yet? Oh, you GOTTA do this the next time you’re in Anaheim. After all, how many times do you get the opportunity to watch a robot grow bored?

Seriously, folks. The next time you’re at “Innoventions” in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, linger around the Tom Morrow figure. After the rest of the guests have wandered off to look at the cutting edge medical technology exhibits and/or fiddle with computer games, just stand there in front of that AA figure and watch Tom kill time.

In the minute or so before the new group of tourists loads into the building, you’ll see Mr. Morrow:

Straighten his tie.
Check his nails.
Attempt to dig wax out of his ear, then look at it.
Shift his weight nervously.
Check his watch.

In short, it’s everything that you and I would do if we had this really boring, repetitive job where we had to be nice to tourists all day. I mean, it really is a beautiful little bit of AA figure programming. Very fluid. Incredibly lifelike … that virtually no one ever sees.

And why is that? Because is something that WDI likes to call a “Joke for One.” A clever little bit of programming and/or an extra added flourish to an Audio Animatronic figure that only the Imagineers, Disney cast members or those who are in the know ever get to see.

Take for example how the Timekeeper begins his performance cycle over in WDW’s “From Time to Time” Circlevision theater. On completion of his show cycle, that AA figure stands perfectly. Then — as the new show cycle begins — you hear over the speakers in the auditorium the sound of a very old car trying to start. With each “Rrrr … Rrrr … Rrrr …” of the aged starter trying to turn over, the Timekeeper shakes a little bit. As if the robot is this balky old piece of machinery that’s having trouble starting his day.

Finally, with a very loud “Ver-ROOM,” the Timekeeper AA figure officially “turns over” and the robot begins fluidly moving about. And it’s right about this time that the WDW cast member hits that switch that opens the automatic door leading out to the lobby and all the guests come filing in.

You see what I’m saying here? Here’s this great little gag that virtually no one ever gets to see. Only the Imagineers who originally programmed that the Timekeeper AA figure, the cast members who actually work at “From Time from Time” and the occasional tourist who lingers in the Circlevision theater ever get to see this clever bit of business.

Which I think is kind of a shame.

Mind you, sometime the public is never, ever supposed to see these little WDI inside jokes. Why for? Because a number of them really do border on the obscene.

How so? Well, how many of you remember Bonnie Appetit from the old “Kitchen Kabaret” show that Kraft Foods used to sponsor in “The Land” pavilion in EPCOT Center’s Future World section? For those of you who don’t recall: Ms. Appetit was this leggy AA figure who served as the hostess of this somewhat strange show. A weird cross between a harried housewife and a Vegas show girl, Bonnie would belt out these musical intros to the attraction’s various “acts” (I.E. a ham and egg vaudeville team, a milk carton who was a crooner, a collard full of samba-singing fruits and vegetables …)

Yes, “Kitchen Kabaret” really WAS one trippy little show. What I personally always found hilarious about this EPCOT Center attraction was that the exit doors to that auditorium pretty much funneled WDW visitors straight into “The Land”‘s food court area. As if to say to WDW guests: “You loved all the performers in today’s show, didn’t you? Well, show the cast of the ‘Kitchen Kabaret’ that you really care. Go EAT THEM !!!”

Anyway … getting back to Bonnie Appetit. It’s clear that the Imagineers who got stuck with programming all of the AA figures for “Kitchen Kabaret” got bored and/or were feeling really mischievous while they were working on this Future World show. How so? Well, it seems that these randy guys from WDI always tried to make Bonnie’s “pause and hold” position (I.E. The “at rest” pose that this robot would automatically go into should there be a sudden power failure hostess or something catastrophic happen at the attraction) as obscene as possible.

Which was fine with Imagineering management. After all, these WED / WDI vets enjoy a hoary old joke as much as the next man. The only condition that that they insisted on was that the public never, ever get the chance to see Bonnie being naughty.

The Imagineers who had done all of the programming on the Appetit AA figure had thought that they had had taken care of this matter. How so? By deliberately putting a line of code into the programming that controlled the “Kitchen Kabaret” theater that — should there ever be a sudden power failure and/or something catastrophic happen — the curtain would automatically come down. That way, no members of the public would ever get to see Ms. Appetit … er … um … what’s a polite way of putting this? “Mishandling her produce?”

Anyway, it seemed like a pretty foolproof scheme. The Imagineers could still have their girly AA figure who had been programmed to do some reportedly pretty raunchy things (which meant that Epcot’s “Kitchen Kabaret” would typically have a pretty full house during the final test-and-adjust of this EPCOT Center show. Why For? Because the Imagineers who were running the “Kitchen Kabaret” test would over-ride the “Bring Down the Curtain” command and then deliberately derail the show. Then the Imagineers in the auditorium would hoot andholler as Bonnie stopped being such a sweet innocent housewife and went into her “act”) while Disney World guest were kept unawares.

What the Imagineers failed to take into consideration was what might happen to the “Kitchen Kabaret” show if the “Land” pavilion were to be struck by lightening. Sure enough, one day in the early 1990s, a bolt came sailing out of the blue and struck the top of this Future World structure. That enormous jolt of electricity surged through the building, scrambling every computer …

Which is why the curtain in the “Kitchen Kabaret” theater didn’t automatically close. Which is why an auditorium full of tourists supposedly got to see the Bonnie Appetit AA figure lift up her short skirt with one hand as the other hand dove between her legs. I’m told that — as the robot threw back her head and thrust her pelvis out and then froze on stage in this position with the theater’s emergency lights shining down on her — that the audience gasped … then quickly filed out of the auditorium to go file complaints over at Epcot Center’s “Guest Relations” desk.

I’ve heard that the Mouse’s official cover story for what occurred that stormy afternoon was that it was the lighting strike — not some deliberately randy programming — that caused the Bonnie Appetit AA figure to … well … “go for the gusto.” But if that were truly the case, then why did Walt Disney World management have the Imagineers immediately reprogram all of Bonnie Appetit’s “Pause and Hold” positions (so that she would no longer automatically become a naughty homemaker whenever things went wrong with “Kitchen Kabaret”)?

This story is the stuff of legends at Walt Disney Imagineering. The sort of tale that the Imagineers tell to illustrate what the “Good Old Days at WED” used to be like. Back when you could get away with some truly funny stuff.

Nowadays, these “Jokes for One” that the Imagineers try to use the Park’s AA figures to tell tend to be on the quiet side. Sly little touches like that pack of condoms that they supposedly keep slipping into the *** pocket of the suit jacket that the Bill Clinton figure wears in the Magic Kingdom’s “The Hall of Presidents.”

I’m told that the President Kennedy AA figure also occasionally gets the condom treatment. And that — ‘way back during the Watergate hearings in the early 1970s — the Imagineers used to tie the Richard Nixon AA figure’s hands behind the robot’s back with a bandana. As if to illustrate what the then-President (who kept insisting that he was “not a crook”) would look like should “Tricky ***” ever get the cuffs slapped on him.

Me personally? I prefer the jokes that are out there for the whole world to see. The bored, fidgety Tom Morrow. The having-trouble-starting Timekeeper. And (my personal favorite) how the Iago AA figure behaves at the very end of WDW’s “Enchanted Tiki Room – Under New Management” show.

Given how obnoxious this parrot character was in the original “Aladdin” movie back in 1992, it’s really no surprise that Kevin Rafferty (the Imagineer who’s credited with putting together “Under New Management”‘s wildly funny if somewhat mean-spirited script) really let Gilbert Gottfried (the comedian who’s been providing the parrot’s vocals for well over a dozen years now) cut loose.

This is why Iago — who’s deliberately positioned over the attraction’s exit — attempts to hassle every tourist as they head out the door. Throwing off abrasive one-liners like “Hey, Lady! Smart idea, walking under a bird!” After a while, Iago seems to quiet down. But the very best zinger is saved for last.

After the very last tourist has almost assuredly filed out of the “Enchanted Tiki Room,” the paunchy parrot yawns and says “Well, I’m exhausted. I think I’ll go over to the Hall of Presidents and take a nap.”

This is a true first in Disney theme park history, folks. An AA figure from one show ragging on another theme park show. The first time I heard this, my jaw just dropped open … then I laughed myself silly.

All in all, it was the perfect “Joke for One” experience. The Imagineering equivalent of those “Easter Eggs” that get hidden on DVDs. The sort of gag that only someone who knows what to look for will ever find.

I don’t suppose that any of you folks out there have similar stories to share …

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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