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Mist Direction or How DAK Operations just slipped Joe Rohde a Mickey

Jim Hill talks about “Expedition Everest” ‘s faltering effects. More importantly, WDW’s long-standing tradition of bamboozling senior Disney officials whenever they come on property



Folks who visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom late last month got something of a treat. In that — for a while there, anyway — most of “Expedition Everest” ‘s effects were actually working. The scenic mist that’s supposed to drift off of Forbidden Mountain top actually did that. The fog bank that your train is supposed to roll through as you barrel backwards through that ice cavern was actually in place. Even the Yeti was in “A” mode, viciously swinging at tourists whenever they zoomed through his lair.

But then — as April gave way to May — one by one, EE’s effects stopped working … again. First the mist stopped drifting off of Forbidden Mountain. Then the fog bank faded away. And finally — late last week — the Yeti stopped moving. He’s once again in “B” mode. As in: “Broken.” No longer able to swipe & snarl at WDW guests, this 25-foot tall AA figure has since been placed in a frightening pose and lit with a strobe light. Which — as you’re rolling through the Yeti’s darkened lair toward the end of this thrill ride — gives the illusion that he’s still moving.

Now one might wonder — given that these “Expedition Everest” effects were working back in late April — why have they all stopped working now? Is this shoddy maintenance on Disney World’s part?

Actually, no. You see, in reality, that scenic mist & fog bank effect had proved to be a hinderance to safe day-to-day operation of this DAK attraction. In that all of that extra moisture was playing hell with this thrill ride’s sensors. Which is why — shortly after “Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain” officially opened to the public back in April in 2006 — the mist & fog effect were turned off by Ops.

And as for the Yeti itself … This enormous AA figure has been an operational nightmare almost from Day One. Which is why he’s typically left in “B” mode these days.

Joe Rohde speaking at the 10th anniversary celebration of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.
Photo courtesy of Denise Preskitt of

“But if that’s really the case, then why were all of these ‘Expedition Everest’ effects working last month?,” you ask. It’s simple, really. Joe Rohde, Senior Vice President and Executive Designer for Walt Disney Imagineering was visiting the Walt Disney World Resort in late April. To be specific, Joe was in town to take part in Animal Kingdom’s 10th anniversary celebration.

And given that Rohde’s extremely close association with this theme park and “Expedition Everest” in particular … Well, DAK’s Ops didn’t want to disappoint Joe. Let him see any “bad show” while he was in that park. Which is why — for the exact length of time that this WDI VP was supposed to be on property — EE’s mist & fog effects were turned back on. Animal Kingdom’s Operations staff also jury-rigged the Yeti so that this AA figure would perform flawlessly. For a while, anyway.

The end result was … Well, for as long as Joe was in town for that 10th anniversary celebration, Animal Kingdom — more importantly, “Expedition Everest” — operated just as he had originally intended them to be run. As soon as Rohde flew back home to Southern California, those mist & fog effects were turned off. And the Yeti was allowed to run until he broke down … again.

Now this may seem like a fairly underhanded thing for Ops to do (i.e. trick a senior Walt Disney Company official into thinking that things are going great at a particular park and/or resort when actually they’re not). But WDW has this long-standing tradition of deliberately duping Mouse House management. A tradition — I might add — that dates back to the days when Dick Nunis ran Disney World like it was his only personal duchy.

Nunis was infamous for mapping out well in advance the exact route that the Suits would be following when they toured Property. Then literally hours before these executives were scheduled to begin their walk-thru, Dick would dispatch Disney World’s cadre of cleaners & painters. So that they could then clean up and/or touch up every item that these execs would pass as they inspected each ride, park or resort.

Mind you, there was one man that Nunis was never able to dupe. And that was Walt Disney himself. As Dick recalled in a May 1999 interview for “Eyes & Ears” …

 Former Chairmain of Disney Parks & Resorts Dick Nunis.
Copyright 1982 Disney. All Rights Reserved

“I was promoted to supervisor of Disneyland‘s Frontierland and Adventureland. And during my first week in that role, Walt got on the “Jungle Cruise,” went around and got off, and called me over. He chewed me up one side and down the other. He asked me ‘What’s the trip time?’ and he knew in those days it was seven minutes. He said ‘ Well, Dick, I just got a four-and-a-half-minute trip! I went through the hippo pool so fast I couldn’t tell if they were hippos or rhinos. How would you feel if you went to the movies and they cut the center reel out of the picture?’

Then he proceeded to tell me, ‘We’ve gotta maintain the same consistent show regardless of how long the wait is.’ So after he finished chewing me out, I said ‘Walt, have you got a minute?’ and he said ‘Sure. What for?’ I said ‘Well, sir, I’m new here. I’d like to go around with you on a boat. You tell me how you want it, and that’s the way it’ll be.’ He said, ‘Okay. Let’s go.’

So we went on it a couple of times, and he said, ‘You know, Dick, we don’t really have a lot of show here. We’re going to be adding show, but right now we’ve got to play to the show. So don’t just have the boat go around at one speed. Play to the show and slow the boat up when you’ve got some animation, and then when there isn’t anything there, speed it up. It’ll be more interesting.’

So that’s what we did. I got off the boat and he left. Cliff Walker was my foreman. So I said, ‘Okay. You and I are gonna get seasick.’ We worked in teams and we had one operator drive and one spiel. And then we’d flip it and train them how to drive it and then how to spiel it, and then put them together.

So we were ready the first week, and Walt came down for a weekend. Never got on a boat. Second weekend. Never got on a boat. We were training all that time. By that time we’d gotten clocks on the boat so they had key points where they should be. So that made it a lot easier.

The boarding area for Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise circa 1957.
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

And Walt came down, and I was ready. I had my best spieler in the number-one load position. And he hopped on and went around. (But) Walt’s a pretty smart guy. He knew I had stacked the deck. So he got off the first boat and got on the second boat. We only had seven boats in those days. He rode five boats, got off and went ‘thumbs up.’ And I always wondered what would’ve happened if that thumb had been down.”

Yeah, Walt was a tough guy to trick. Given that he liked to experience Disneyland just as the guests did, Disney would actually stand in line, making his way through the queue the way that the paying customers did. So — as far as Walt was concerned — it was always tough to stack the deck.

Whereas the Michael Eisner-era executives … Given that these Suits seemed to want as little to do with the public as possible, they’d typically come into the park from Backstage, then head straight for whatever ride, show and attraction that they were supposed to experience and/or inspect. Once their tour was over, they’d then be whisked back to their town cars. Where their driver would then take them straight to some high-end Disney World resort.

And — over time — even the WDW resorts got into the act. They’d deliberately make changes / improvements to the hotel rooms that senior Disney Company officials were supposed to be staying in while they were on property.

Take — for example — Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Michael Eisner‘s hotel-of-choice whenever he stayed on property. Disney’s then-CEO always liked to stay in that hotel’s Vice Presidential suite. So — two days prior to Eisner’s arrival at Walt Disney World — Yacht Club management would block out that room. They’d then have WDW’s painters come in and retouch the place. They then rip up the carpet and swap out the mattress. Clean the suite from top to bottom. So that — when Michael arrived at that hotel — he would then, in essence, be walking into a brand-new room.

Disney’s Yacht Club Resort as seen from Crescent Lake.
Copyright 2003 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Speaking of walking … The hotel would actually steam clean all of the carpets that led from the lobby to the Vice Presidential Suite. Or — if the carpet was thought to look worn — they’d actually have it ripped out and replaced. Just so that everything that Eisner saw as he walked to his room would look flawless.

As for the room itself … Because Eisner was such a notoriously bad sleeper, Yacht Club staffers would actually black out the windows in the Vice Presidential Suite. Covering each pane of glass with an adhesive plastic sheet that would help make the room seem darker. Doing anything and everything that they could to head off possible complaints from Michael.

But now that we’re in the Iger era … WDW officials are finding it a lot harder to stack the deck. Particularly when it comes to John Lasseter.

You see, when it comes to Pixar’s Grand Pooh-Bah … Back in the 1970s, Lasseter actually worked at Disneyland. He started as a trash sweeper in Tomorrowland and eventually worked his way up to becoming a skipper on the “Jungle Cruise.” So — much to Disney World management’s chagrin — WDI’s Principal Creative Advisor is a guy who actually knows his way around a Disney theme park. As a former hourly employee, he already knows most of the tricks that managers like to play.

More to the point, John is old school. Meaning that — just like Walt — he likes to experience the parks just as the guests do. Which is why — when Lasseter was recently at the Resort to discuss a new super-secret restaurant project — he didn’t just hole up in some conference room at the Team Disney Building. No, John spent three hours at the Magic Kingdom‘s Liberty Tree Tavern. He sat with three of Disney World’s top Food Service guys and personally observed how that place operated, watching firsthand how the servers interacted with the characters and visa versa.

Photo by
Jeff Lange

“What sort of super-secret restaurant-related project was Lasseter in Orlando gathering information for?,” you query. Well, only a rat would reveal advance information about that new Pixar-themed eatery that’s currently under consideration for the WDW resort. But if you liked that animation studio’s 2007 release … Chances are that you’re going to love this restaurant. If it actually makes off of WDI’s drawing board, that is.

Anyway … Getting back to the starting point of today’s article … What are your thoughts on WDW Ops’ practice of occasionally duping senior Disney officials? Making the suits think that things are going better than they actually are? Would you prefer that they were more honest with Mouse House management?

Or — looking at this situation from the Operations side of the fence — wouldn’t it be better if WDI actually designed attractions that were easy to operate on a day-to-day basis? That didn’t include effects that impeded safe-and-continuous operations of that ride and/or AA figures that were extremely difficult to keep up and running?

Your thoughts?

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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Jens Dahlmann of LongHorn Steakhouse has lots of great tips when it comes to grilling



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Sure, for some folks, the Fourth of July is all about fireworks. But for the 75% of all Americans who own a grill or a smoker, the Fourth is our Nation’s No. 1 holiday when it comes to grilling. Which is why 3 out of 4 of those folks will spend some time outside today working over a fire.

But here’s the thing: Though 14 million Americans can cook a steak with confidence because they actually grill something every week, the rest of us – because we use our grill or smoker so infrequently … Well, let’s just say that we have no chops when it comes to dealing with chops (pork, veal or otherwise).

So what’s a backyard chef supposed to in a situation like this when there’s so much at steak … er … stake? Turn to someone who really knows their way around a grill for advice. People like Jens Dahlmann, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Darden Restaurant’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.

Given that Jens’ father & grandfather were chefs, this is a guy who literally grew up in a kitchen. In his teens & twenties, Dahlmann worked in hotels & restaurants all over Switzerland & Germany. Once he was classically trained in the culinary arts, Jens then  jumped ship. Well, started working on cruise ships, I mean.

Anyway … While working on Cunard’s Sea Goddess, Dahlmann met Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque 2000. Sirio was so impressed with Jens’ skills in the kitchen that he offered him the opportunity to become sous-chef at this New York landmark. After four years of working in Manhattan, Dahlmann then headed south to become executive chef at Palm Beach’s prestigious Café L’Europe.

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

And once Jens began wowing foodies in Florida, it wasn’t all that long ’til the Mouse came a-calling. Mickey wanted Dahlmann to shake things up in the kitchen over at WDW’s Flying Fish Café. And he did such a good job with that Disney’s Boardwalk eatery the next thing Jens knew, he was then being asked to work his magic with the menu at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.

From there, Dahlmann had a relatively meteoric rise at the Mouse House. Once he became Epcot’s Food & Beverage general manager, it was only a matter of time before he wound up as the executive chef in charge of this theme park’s annual International Food & Wine Festival. Which – under Jens’ guidance – experienced some truly explosive growth.

“When I took on Food & Wine, that festival was only 35 days long and had gross revenues of just $5.5 million. When I left Disney in 2016, Food & Wine was now over 50 days long and that festival had gross revenues of $22 million,” Dahlmann admitted during a recent sit-down. “I honestly loved those 13 years I spent at Disney. When I was working there, I learned so much because I was really cooking for America.”

And it was exactly that sort of experience & expertise that Darden wanted to tap into when they lured Jens away from Mickey last year to become LongHorn Steakhouse’s new Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef. But today … Well, Dahlmann is offering tips to those of us who are thinking about cooking steak tips for the Fourth.

Photo by Jim Hill

“When you’re planning on grilling this holiday, if you’re looking for a successful result, the obvious place to start is with the quality of the meat you plan on cooking for your friends & family. If you want the best results here, don’t be cheap when you go shopping. Spend the money necessary for a fresh filet or a New York strip. Better yet a Ribeye, a nice thick one with good marbling. Because when you look at the marbling on a steak, that’s where all the flavor happens,” Jens explained. “That said, you always have to remember that — the higher you go with the quality of your meat — the less time you’re going to want that piece of meat to spend on the grill.”

And speaking of cooking … Before you even get started here, Jens suggests that you first take the time to check over all of your grilling equipment. Making sure that the grill itself is first scraped clean & then properly oiled before you then turn up the heat.

“If you’re working with a dirty grill, when you go to turn your meat, it may wind up sticking to the grill. Or maybe those spices that you’ve just so carefully coated your steak with will wind up sticking to the grill, rather than your meat,” Dahlmann continued. “Which is why it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes prior to firing up your grill properly cleaning & oiling it.”

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of heat … Again, before you officially get started grilling here, Jens says that it’s crucial to check your temperature gauges. Make sure that your char grill is set at 550 (so that it can then properly handle the thicker cuts of meat) and your flattop is set at 425 (so it can properly sear thinner pieces of meat).

Okay. Once you’ve bought the right cuts of quality meat, properly cleaned & oiled your grill, and then made sure that everything’s set at the right temperature (“If you can only stand to hold your hand directly over the grill for two or three seconds, that’s the right amount of heat,” Dahlmann said), it’s now time to season your steaks.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold here. You can’t be shy when it comes to seasoning your meat. You want to give it a nice coating. Largely because — if you’re using a char grill — a lot of that seasoning is just going to fall off anyway,” Jens stated. “It’s up to you to decide what sort of seasoning you want to use here. Even just some salt & pepper will enhance a steak’s flavor.”

Then – according to Dahlmann – comes the really tough part. Which is placing your meat on the grill and then fighting the urge to flip it too early or too often.

“The biggest mistake that a lot of amateur cooks make is that they flip the steak too many times. The real key to a well-cooked piece of meat is just let it be, “Jens insisted. “Of course, if you’re serving different cuts of meat at your Fourth of July feast, you always want to put your biggest thickest steak on the grill first. If you’re also cooking a New York Strip, you want to put that one on a few minutes later. But after that, just let the grill do its job and flip your meat a total of three or four times, once every three minutes or so.”

Of course, the last thing you want to do is overcook a quality piece of meat. Which is why Dahlmann suggests that – when it comes to grilling steaks – if you’re going to err, err on the side of undercooking.

“You can always put a piece of meat back on the grill if it’s slightly undercooked. When you over-cook something, all you can do then is start over with a brand-new piece of meat,” Jens said. “Just be sure that you’re using the correct cut of meat for the cooking result you’re aiming for. If someone wants a rare or medium rare steak, you should go with a thicker cut of steak. If one of your guests wants their steak cooked medium or well, it’s best to start with a thinner cut of meat.”

Photo by Jim Hill

As you can see, the folks at Longhorn take grilling steaks seriously. How seriously? Just last week at Darden Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, seven of these brand’s top grill masters (who – after weeks of regional competitions – had been culled from the 491 restaurants that make up this chain) competed for a $10,000 prize in the Company’s second annual Steak Master Series. And Dahlmann was one of the people who stood in Darden’s test kitchens, watching like a hawk as each of the contestants struggled to prepare six different dishes in just 20 minutes according to Longhorn Steakhouse’s exacting standards.

“I love that Darden does this. Recognizing the best of the best who work this restaurant,” Jens concluded. “We have a lot of people here who are incredibly knowledgeable & passionate when it comes to grilling.”

Speaking of which … If today’s story doesn’t include the exact piece of info that you need to properly grill that T-bone, just whip out your iPhone & text GRILL to 55702. Or – better yet – visit prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers is a sincere if somewhat surreal way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont



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Some people travel halfway ‘around the planet so that they can then experience the excitement of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. If you’re more of a Slow Living enthusiast (as I am), then perhaps you should amble to Brattleboro, VT. Where – over the first weekend in June – you can then join a herd of cow enthusiasts at the annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Now in its 16th year, this three-day long event typically gets underway on Friday night in June with a combination block party / gallery walk. But then – come Saturday morning – Main Street in Brattleboro is lined with thousands of bovine fans.

Photo by Jim Hill

They’ve staked out primo viewing spots and set up camp chairs hours ahead of time. Just so these folks can then have a front row seat as this year’s crop of calves (which all come from local farms & 4-H clubs) are paraded through the streets.

Photo by Jim Hill

Viewed from curbside, Strolling of the Heifers is kind of this weird melding of a sincere small town celebration and Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade. Meaning that – for every entry that actually acknowledged this year’s theme (i.e. “Dance to the Moosic”) — …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something completely random, like this parade’s synchronized shopping cart unit.

Photo by Jim Hill

And for every piece of authentic Americana (EX: That collection of antique John Deere tractors that came chugging through the city) …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something silly. Like – say – a woman dressed as a Holstein pushing a baby stroller through the streets. And riding in that stroller was a pig dressed in a tutu.

Photo by Jim Hill

And given that this event was being staged in the Green Mountain State & all … Well, does it really surprise you to learn that — among the groups that marched in this year’s Strolling of the Heifers – was a group of eco-friendly folks who, with their  chants of “We’re Number One !,” tried to persuade people along the parade route not to flush the toilet after they pee. Because – as it turns out – urine can be turned into fertilizer.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of fertilizer … At the tail end of the parade, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who were dealing with what came out of the tail end of all those cows.

Photo by Jim Hill

This year’s Strolling of the Heifers concluded at the Brattleboro town common. Where event attendees could then get a closer look at some of the featured units in this year’s parade…

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

But as for the 90+ calves who took part in the 2017 edition of Strolling of the Heifers, once they reached the town common, it was now time for a nosh or a nap.

Photo by Jim Hill

Elsewhere on the common, keeping with this year’s “Dance to the Moosic” theme, various musical groups performed in & around the gazebo throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Jim Hill

While just across the way – keeping with Brattleboro’s tradition of showcasing the various artisans who live & work in the local community – some pretty funky pieces were on display at the Slow Living Exposition.

Photo by Jim Hill

All in all, attending Strolling of the Heifers is a somewhat surreal but still very pleasant way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont. And that’s no bull.

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, that could be a bull. To be honest, what with the wig & all, it’s kind of hard to tell. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sunday, June 4, 2017

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Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick’s Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage



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Let’s at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon – the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food – loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th.

“I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That’s terrific,” Kevin said.

But then when it comes to what many Americans eat & drink on St. Paddy’s Day (i.e., a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Which is then washed down with a mug of green beer) … Well, that’s where Dundon has to draw the line.

Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon displays a traditional Irish loin of bacon with Colcannon potatoes and a Dunbrody Kiss chocolate dessert. Photo by Tom Burton. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Green beer? No real Irishman would be caught dead drinking that stuff,” Kevin insists. “And as for eating corned beef & cabbage … That’s not actually authentic Irish fare either. Bacon and cabbage? Sure. But corned beef & cabbage was something that the Irish only began eating after they’d come to the States to escape the Famine. And even then these Irish-Americans only began serving corned beef & cabbage to their friends & family because they had to make do with the ingredients that were available to them at that time.”

And thus begins the strange tale of how corned beef & cabbage came to be associated with the North American celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Because – according to Dundon – beef just wasn’t all that big a part of the Irish diet back in the 19th century.

To explain: Back in the Old Country, cattle – while they were obviously highly prized for the milk & cheese that they produced – were also beasts of burden. Meaning that they were often used for ploughing the fields or for hauling heavy loads. Which is why – back then — these animals were rarely slaughtered when they were still young & healthy. If anything, land owners liked to put a herd of cattle on display out in one of their pastures because that was then a sign to their neighbors that this farm was prosperous.

“Whereas pork … Well, everybody raised pigs back then. Which is why pork was a staple of the Irish diet rather than beef,” Dundon continued.

So if that’s what people actually ate back in the Old Country, how then did corned beef & cabbage come to be so strongly associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the States.? That largely had to do with where the Irish wound up living after they arrived in the New World.

“When the Irish first arrived in America following the Great Famine, a lot of them wound up living in the inner city right alongside the Germans & the Jews, who were also recent immigrants to the States. And while that farm-fresh pork that the Irish loved wasn’t readily available, there was brisket. Which the Irish could then cure by first covering this piece of meat with corn kernel-sized pieces of rock salt – that’s how it came to be called corned beef. Because of the sizes of the pieces of rock salt that were used in the curing process – and then placing all that in a pot of water with other spices to soak for a few days.”

And as for the cabbage portion of corned beef & cabbage … Well, according to Kevin, in addition to buying their meat from the kosher delis in their neighborhood, the Irish would also frequent the stores that the German community shopped in. Where – thanks to their love of sauerkraut (i.e., pickled cabbage) – there was always a ready supply of cabbage to be had.

“So when you get right down to it, it was the American melting pot that led to corned beef & cabbage being found in the Irish-American cooking pot,” Dundon continued. “Since they couldn’t find or didn’t have easy access to the exact same ingredients that they had back in Ireland, Irish-Americans made do with what they could find in the immediate vicinity. And what they made was admittedly tasty. But it’s not actually authentic Irish fare.”

Mind you, what Kevin serves at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs (which – FYI – Orlando Magazine voted as the area’s best restaurant back in 2014) is nothing if not authentic. Dundon and his team at this acclaimed gastropub pride themselves on making traditional Irish fare and then contemporized it.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Take – for example – what we serve here instead of corned beef & cabbage. Again, because it was pork – rather than beef – that was the true staple of the Irish diet back then, what we offer instead is a loin of bacon that has been glazed with Irish Mist. That then comes with colcannon potatoes. Which is this traditional Irish dish that’s made up of mashed potato that have had some cabbage & bacon mixed through it,” Kevin enthused. “This heavenly ham – that’s what we actually call this traditional Irish dish at Raglan Road, Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – also includes some savory cabbage with a parsley cream sauce as well as a raisin cider jus. It’s simple food. But because of the basic ingredients – and that’s the real secret of Irish cuisine. That our ingredients are so strong – the flavors just pop off the plate.”

Which brings us to the real challenge that Dundon and the Raglan Road team face every day. Making sure that they actually have all of the ingredients necessary to make this traditional-yet-contemporized Irish fare to those folks who frequent this Walt Disney World favorite.

“Take – for example – the fish we serve here. We only used cold water fish. Salmon, mussels and haddock that have been hauled out of the Atlantic, the ocean that America and Ireland share,” Kevin stated. “Not that there’s anything wrong with warm water fish. It’s just that … Well, it doesn’t have the same structure. It’s a softer fish, which doesn’t really fit the parameters of Irish cuisine. And if you’re going to serve authentic food, you have to be this dedicated when it comes to sourcing your ingredients.

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

And if you’re thinking of perhaps trying to serve an authentic Irish meal this year, rather than once again serving corned beef & cabbage at your Saint Patrick’s Day Feast … Well, back in September of last year, Mitchell Beazley published “The Raglan Road Cookbook: Inside America’s Favorite Irish Pub.” This 296-page hardcover not only includes the recipe for Kevin’s Heavenly Ham but also it tells the tale of how this now-world-renown restaurant wound up being built in Orlando.

On the other hand, if you happen to have to the luck of the Irish and are actually down at The Walt Disney World Resort right now, it’s worth noting that Raglan Road is right in the middle of its Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This four day-long event – which includes Irish bands and professional dancers – stretches through Sunday night. And in addition to all that authentic Irish fare that Dundon and his team are cooking up, you also sample the fine selection of beers & cocktails that this establishment’s four distinct antique bars (each of which are more than 130 years old and were imported directly from Ireland) will be serving. Just – As ucht Dé (That’s “For God’s Sake” in Gaelic) – don’t make the mistake of asking the bartender there for a mug of green beer.

“Why would anyone willingly drink something like that?,” Dundon laughed. “I mean, just imagine what their washroom will look like the morning after.”

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 17, 2017

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