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Making his Marc: “Art of Marc Davis” exhibit to open at Walt Disney Family Museum next month, “Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man” to be published this Fall

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Today, March 30th, marks the 101st anniversary of Marc
Davis
' birth and, with two upcoming events, it looks like 2014 is going to be
as remarkable as 1993. When Marc, at age 80, had a six-week exhibition of his
very personal artwork at The Howard Lowery Gallery in Burbank,
Calif.


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

The Walt Disney
Family Museum

is currently preparing "Leading Ladies and Femmes Fatales: The Art of Marc
Davis," a special exhibition in the museum's Theater Gallery from April 30 to Nov. 3, 2014.

The exhibition – co-curated by the museum's director of
collections, Michael Labrie, and animator Andreas Deja – spotlights some 70
original pencil animation drawings, conceptual artwork, paintings, cels, and
photographs from animator and Imagineer Marc Davis, who died Jan. 12, 2000.

Although Davis'
work and accomplishments could fill a much larger gallery, selected artworks –
mainly from Davis' personal
holdings, Walt Disney Imagineering, several private collectors and the Walt
Disney Family Foundation's collection – intend to focus on a part of Davis'
life and career with his mastery of the human form.


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc.
All rights reserved

Disney Editions is also preparing to publish "Marc Davis:
Walt Disney's Renaissance Man,"

set for release on  Oct. 7.

Walt Disney once said of Marc Davis, "Marc can do story, he
can do character, he can animate, he can design shows for me. All I have to do
is tell him what I want and it's there!" As such, Davis
touched nearly every aspect of The Walt Disney Company during his tenure.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Since Davis had
so many talents, it is only fitting that this tribute book will be composed by
a multitude of talented writers. Experts in fine art, animation, Imagineering,
and filmmaking have come together to honor Davis'
contributions to their realms. Each chapter is accompanied by a wealth of
artwork, much of which was offered up by his wife Alice Davis exclusively for
this book. This $40 publication is designed to serve as both biography and
portfolio of a Disney Legend who was an animator, Imagineer, world traveler,
philanthropist, husband, and teacher. It is now available for pre-order from
Amazon.com. It will also feature some of the art that was in the 1993-1994
exhibition.

In honor of his birth, and with permission from Howard
Lowery and his wife, Walt Disney
Family Museum
planning team member Paula Sigman Lowery, here's a very good mini biography of
Marc Davis that was featured in the catalog for his exhibition, held from Dec. 15, 1993 to Jan. 28, 1994.

So here's "Portrait of an Artist: The Life & Art of Marc
Davis," by Paula Sigman Lowery. It was written for the 1993-1994 catalog with
Marc's direct participation.

The only son of Harry and Mildred Davis, Marc was born March 30, 1913 in Bakersfield,
Calif., where his father was engaged in the
burgeoning oil field business.


"My father was a very extraordinary man, but when you ask me
what he did I would say that he was a rainbow chaser – he went wherever new oil
booms developed, wherever there was something new. I lived all over this
country – in Florida, in Oklahoma,
in Arkansas, in Louisiana,
in Texas. … I spent my early
life in oil fields and mining towns."

Due to the Davis
family's frequent moves, Marc attended 23 different schools by the time he
graduated high school. When asked in 1983 if so many moves were difficult for a
young boy, Marc smiled. "I discovered that I could amuse myself when I was
lonely by drawing. But I also learned that I could go anywhere and meet anyone.
In retrospect, it makes me feel sorry for the kids who go to one grammar
school, one high school and one college. I had so much experience in the world
by the time I was through high school."

This experience about life, Marc believed, was a significant
part of "what I have to offer as a creative person." He acknowledged a great
debt to his father. In 1931, at the bottom of the Great Depression, his father
got him his first job. "He said to me, 'You've had a lot of education that many
people haven't had, but I think there's some education that you need.' He got
me a job in the Waldorf pool hall in Klamath Falls,
Oregon, tending pool tables. The pool halls
were filled with guys looking for work. Father was very good at psychology – he
wanted me to learn about life. And I did. You have to know about life, and you
create out of what you know. It's terribly important that we're aware of this.
It's what life is really all about."

Marc first displayed his talents when he was a little boy. He
remembered his first "creative experience" was in kindergarten in Reno,
Nev. "I stood up on stage and recited
'There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile.' But I really got into
being the crooked man … and everyone laughed. I was a hit!"

As a youngster, Marc had little formal art training. At the
age of 13 or 14, while living in Tulsa, Okla.,
he began informal art lessons. "A very nice lady had an art club. She taught us
how to fix up a canvas. And she had a very spicy technique, almost an
Impressionist style." Later, in Texas,
Marc studied one night a week with an art teacher. The summer between grammar
school and high school, he enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute for his
first formal art training. "I did all the high school annuals wherever I was. I
just happened to be the kid who could draw."


"My father didn't understand why I want to be an artist,
instead of an architect. He thought 'Architects make money; artists starve to
death.' I can appreciate his point of view. But my father was an artist
himself. He was an extraordinary watchmaker – he had learned that in Switzerland
where it really was an art – he was a magician, and he was a musician."


During the Depression, Marc's father moved the family to California
and Marc took classes at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles
for a year. Later they moved to San Francisco,
where Marc attended the California School of Fine Arts.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

When he ran out of money for art school, Marc got up early
and rode the streetcar to the Fleishhacker Zoo in San
Francisco. "I got to know the assistant director of
the zoo and they would let me in before they'd let the public in. They'd bring
creatures out for me to draw. It was very exciting, and sometimes a little
scary. They had a big collection of orangutans. One of the keepers asked, 'Have
you ever felt the palm of one of these guys?' So they got one of them to put
his hand out and I put my hand out. And, (the orangutan) closed his hand over
mine. The texture of his paw felt like sawed wood. He didn't squeeze or
anything, but I couldn't remove my hand. His grip was just like a piece of
iron. It took two or three keepers five minutes to get him to let me go." After
getting off work, Marc toiled in the public library, absorbing everything he
could about anatomy.


"I was trying for an art scholarship. There was almost a
whole room of my zoo drawings – on butcher paper – exhibited in the de Young
Museum in Golden Gate Park,
and I thought I had it made. I found out later that if you didn't take classes
from the director of the school, you didn't have a chance. So I didn't get the
scholarship."


The family moved from San Francisco
to Marysville, Calif.,
where Marc got a job working in a sign shop, designing theater posters.
Suddenly, his father had a fatal heart attack. "We hadn't been living there
very long, but everyone came to the funeral. It shows how much my father
affected people – he had a tremendous personality."


Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

In December 1935, Marc joined the Walt Disney Studio as an
apprentice animator. "We continually attended art classes and worked our way up
by doing in-betweens, drawings that bridged the gap between the animator's
extreme poses in the action." Because of his understanding of anatomy and his
skill with the human figure, Marc was promoted to assistant animator for "Snow
White and the Seven Dwarfs

," drawing Snow White herself under the guidance of
animation great Grim Natwick. "The very thing that I thought I had to offer the
most wasn't available to me, because I worked on the human."


When "Snow White" was finished, Marc was at last given a
chance to practice his specialty and joined the "Bambi
" unit. He spent most of
his time in story, designing the characters and developing the scene in which
the young forest animals fall in love. Walt Disney saw these story sketches and
said, "We ought to make an animator out of this kid – I want to see his
drawings on the screen."


Marc's story drawings are among the finest studies of animal
characters created in the Studio's history. He worked on most of the classic
Disney animated features and many shorts, before becoming involved in
three-dimensional animation while planning Disneyland.


(L to R) Josh Meador, Marc Davis,
Eyvind Earle and Walt Peregoy. Copyright
Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights
reserved

In the late 1950s, Disney background artist Art Riley
suggested that Marc, along with Eyvind Earle, Josh Meador and Walt Peregoy go
out and paint a magnificent old oak tree at Barham
Boulevard, near Forest
Lawn Drive in Los Angeles.
They went out on their own time, on Saturday mornings, and Riley filmed them as
they painted. The film, which demonstrated each artist's unique interpretation
of the same subject, turned up on the Disneyland
television show in 1958 as "Four Artists Paint One Tree," and subsequently has
been shown in art classes and schools around the world.


After animating Cruella De Vil for "101 Dalmatians
," Marc
turned his talents exclusively to Disney's Imagineering division, developing
theme park characters and attractions beginning with the 1964-1965 New York
World's Fair
.


According to Marc, The Walt Disney Studio turned out to be
"one of the finest art schools I've ever attended." In the 1930s, Walt brought
in Don Graham, a teacher from Chouinard Institute, to instruct the apprentice
artists. "Don was probably the best teacher ever had." Graham's respect for
Marc's artistry was evident when, in 1947, he asked Marc to take over the
advanced drawing class he was teaching at Chouinard. Marc ended up teaching it
one night a week for 17 years.

"Everyone wanted to take Marc's class," said his wife,
Alice, an artist, costume designer and Disney Legend who was one of his first
students at Chouinard. "Marc's class was Tuesday night, and Wednesday morning
you'd find all the people who couldn't get in studying his drawings on the
blackboard. They wouldn't let anyone erase them."


Marc's teaching technique was simple but effective. "The
class was three hours long. The first 45 different positions for five- or 10-minutes studies. Then I'd lecture and draw
on the blackboard for 45 minutes," he said. "We'd take a break, have the model
again, and then I'd give another lecture. I never repeated the same lecture
twice. We studied how the body works and I tried to teach my students how to
think about capturing what they were learning about the body, and design
accordingly."


Marc's concept art for the Ford
Pavilion's "Magic Skyway" attraction at the 1964
– 1965 New York
World's Fair. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

Marc stopped teaching at Chouinard in the early 1960s when
he was working on the New York
World's Fair for Disney. He wasn't able to lead his weekly classes because he
was spending so much time in New York.


Travel definitely had an influence on Marc's work. As a
student artist, he spent several months touring Europe.
He was – and continued to be throughout his life – fascinated by the classics:
literature and especially mythology. In 1947, Marc went to Mexico
to see the bullfights. "It was shocking, but at the same time it was
magnificent," he recalled in 1993. "The power of those animals, the drama of
the fight, was spectacular." He later went to Spain
and visited the great bullfighting arenas. Images of bull and bullfighters
(became) one of his favorite subjects.


In the 1970s, Marc and Alice became intrigued by the art and
culture of Papua New Guinea.
They made several visits to the island nation, collecting artifacts, tribal
lore, and sketching what is now, unfortunately, becoming an almost vanished
world. This interest inspired a book project, "The Bite of the Crocodile," and
many of Marc's rough sketches were turned into mysterious and evocative
paintings. (As of 2014, the book has not been published but there's still hope
for the project.)

 

Marc retired from Disney in 1978, after 43 years with the
company, to concentrate on his paintings. But he continued to consult for
Disney up until his death.


"I've always seen myself basically as an artist – an artist that
can take a medium like animation and work with it. Many of the paintings in
this (1993-94) exhibition are things I did while I was animating. I needed to
do them for myself," Davis said.
"Art is where I started. I never really left it."



His legacy – his art, character design and ability to create comic
moments that delight audiences – continues to inspire animators and Imagineers.

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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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