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Movies That Never Got Made: Disney’s “Einstein”

Jim Hill talks about the never-produced project that Disney Company execs once saw as the logical follow-up to “TRON,” a big screen bio of the noted physicist that was to have used computer animation to help illustrate Einstein’s theories.

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You could say that the Walt Disney Company has kind of a thing when it comes to Albert Einstein.

As early as 1941, the good doctor had begun popping in pictures that Walt Disney Productions was producing. You’ll find Albert in the “Baby Weems” segment of “The Reluctant Dragon.” Where the brilliant babe discovers an error in the Princeton professor’s theory of Relativity. Only to have Albert quickly shoosh Baby Weems and whisper “Don’t tell nobody.”

Einstein also figures prominently in “The Fifth Freedom.” You know, that enormous mural that you’ll find in the post-show area of Disneyland’s “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” attraction? Where the good doctor is pictured with such luminaries of the 20th Century as the Wright Brothers, George Washington Carver, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Alva Edison, Robert Goddard, David Sarnoff and (of course) Walt Disney.

This brilliant physicist also makes cameo appearances in two Epcot attractions: “The American Adventure” (Where you’ll see a quick image of Albert in the film montage that “Golden Dreams” plays under) as well as “Ellen’s Energy Adventure” (Where Einstein goes head-to-head with Ms. DeGeneres & Jamie Lee Curtis in a game of “Jeopardy”). You’ll also find his name used for comic effect in Walt Disney Pictures’ 1988 animated release, “Oliver & Co.” Where Einstein is the name of the addled Great Dane that sitcom star Richard Mulligan (“Empty Nest”) provided the vocals for.

Even today, Mickey’s obsession with Albert continues. In fact, according to some Disney insiders that I’ve spoken with, one of the main reasons that the Walt Disney Company bought Baby Einstein (a Denver-based firm that produced books, toys & videos aimed at infants and toddlers) back in November of 2001 was because … Well … CEO Michael Eisner just liked the idea of having the Disney name linked to such a brilliant man.

So — given Disney’s decades-long love affair with this brilliant theoretical physicist — is it really a surprise to learn that Walt Disney Productions once considered producing a big-budget big screen biography of the good doctor? As a follow-up to “TRON,” no less.

Strange but true, folks. The time was the early 1980s. And Walt Disney Productions had just invested millions in the creation of a computer animation production pipeline for this Steven Lisberger film. And — once “TRON” was released in July of 1982 — Disney Studio execs obviously wanted to continue to make use of this very expensive asset.

The only problem was … Walt Disney Productions really didn’t know what else to do with CG back in 1982. Given the public’s somewhat tepid response to “Tron” (This special effects tour de force only grossed $33 million during its initial domestic run. Which — when you factor in the cost of producing & then marketing this ambitious motion picture — meant the Mouse [at best] broke even on “TRON”) as well as 1979’s “The Black Hole,” it didn’t seem wise for the studio to attempt another sci-fi feature.

And — at this time time, anyway — using computer animation for the background elements and/or props in the studio’s traditionally animated features just seemed … Well, impractical.

Mind you, WDFA did do a 30 second test (making use of the talents of then-new Disney studio employees John Lasetter and Glen Keane) for a proposed “Where the Wild Things Are” featurette. And the end result was admittedly impressive. But — given the projected costs of completing this featurette — it seemed highly unlikely that “Where the Wild Things Are” would ever recover its production costs.

So that promising project was shelved. And — though CG was used for some elements in 1985’s “The Black Cauldron” — it would be another four years before Disney’s animators finally officially made that big bold leap into the digital age with the Big Ben sequence in 1986’s “The Great Mouse Detective.”

Anyway … Let’s get back to 1982, shall we? When Disney has this brand new expensive tool on its hands. But studio execs have virtually no clue as to what to do with CG.

This is when Ron Miller, the then-President of the Walt Disney Motion Picture and Television Production Division began asking: “Well, what is computer animation actually good for?” And the general concensus at the time was CG was great when it came to illustrating abstract concepts. And computer animation also made it possible to accomplish these seemingly impossible camera moves. Like circling around a rocket as it roared across the galaxy.

I’m told that it was Miller himself who made the connection here. That Ron was the one who connected CG, abstract theory and space flight and came up with the idea of Walt Disney Productions doing a film about the life of Albert Einstein.

Miller (Who was NEVER actually the dumb jock that Michael Eisner & Roy E. Disney have always claimed him to be. The Disney Channel? That was Ron Miller’s idea. Touchstone Pictures? Also Ron. And “Splash,” that 1984 Ron Howard film that signalled to Wall Street that Walt Disney Productions was finally on its way back? That film was greenlit by Miller. NOT Eisner. Anywho …) saw the “Einstein” project as Disney’s opportunity to make a break from all those mediocre movies that the studio had made back in the late 1970s / early 1980s. Those half-hearted unnecessary sequels like 1979’s “The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again” and 1980’s “Herbie Goes Bananas.”

Here was a prestige project. A film that would finally force the Hollywood elite to start taking Disney Studios seriously again. Which perhaps explains the following description of Disney Studio’s upcoming production slate that Ron Miller insisted be included in the company’s 1981 annual report:

In striving to expand our film and television audiences, we have turned to the Company’s great traditions.

The name Disney has always meant fantasy, escape, high adventure and optimism — whether in comedy or drama. Perhaps more importantly, the name means innovation, originality, technical virtuosity and taking chances on new ideas.

Well, Walt Disney Productions was certainly looking to take a chance with “Einstein.” I mean, take a look at the way that this proposed film was described in Disney’s 1981 annual report:

“Einstein” combines the story of one of mankind’s greatest figures with the genuis of Disney special effects. From an early-life biography of the man who reshaped our view of the universe, we will travel into his vast imagination through a series of spectacular visions. The sate-of-the-art computer effects of “TRON” will be taken a step further in this innovative feature.

What Miller had in mind here was a film unlike anything that Walt Disney Production had attempted to date. A major motion picture that would actually be shot on location in Munich. Berlin, Bern & Zurich. That would have recreated key moments in Einstein’s life by filming in the actual locations where Albert had lived and taught.

But the big hook for this film was supposed to have been that — as Einstein actually came up with his theories — the film would suddenly swing to CG. And seemingly boring equations like “E=MC2” would become the jumping off points for eye-popping special effects sequences. Where computer graphics would be used to make even the most complex theories accessibles (And — more importantly — entertaining) to the average moviegoer.

Obviously, “Einstein” was to have been an ambitious film. But even Miller recognized that the movie’s subject matter was going to be hard to sell. Which is why Ron knew that he’d really need a star in the title role if he was going to make this proposed picture a reality. So he set his sights on one of the biggest stars of the 1980s: Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss.

Of course, it had been over four years since Dreyfuss’ Oscar-winning turn in “The Goodbye Girl.” And — given that Richard’s follow-up films (I.E. 1978’s “The Big Fix,” 1980’s “The Competition” and 1981’s “Whose Life is It Anyway?”) hadn’t performed all that well and that Hollywood was awash with rumors that the actor had a serious cocaine problem at the time — Dreyfuss was really in need of work at the time. Which is why he agreed to go to Disney to meet with Miller to discuss the project.

And — at first glance — Richard really did seem to be an inspired choice to portray Albert. After all, Dreyfuss already bore a physical resemblance to Einstein. And the two men were both left handed in addition to having similiar heritages. Plus there was no denying that the Academy Award winner had a real gift when it came to portraying characters with fierce intellects.

So imagine Ron Miller’s surprise when Richard Dreyfuss arrived at Disney Studios and — instead of Miller trying to sell Dreyfuss on the idea of playing Albert Einstein — Richard pulled a switcheroo. The way I hear it, the Oscar winner used this meeting to pitch his own idea for the bio pic that Walt Disney Productions should be producing. And that was the life story of Walt Disney!

And who did Richard envision as playing kindly old uncle Walt? You guessed it. Dreyfuss wanted to play Disney.

As you can probably understand, this wasn’t exactly the way Ron Miller had wanted this encounter to go. I’m told that Miller tried mightly to get this meeting back on track. But Dreyfuss could not be dissuaded. While he was flattered to be offered the part of Albert Einstein, the role that Richard really wanted to play was Walt Disney. Particularly the young Walt Disney. The guy who kept risking it all in pursuit of his dreams.

Speaking of pursuing your dreams … Ron Miller still had hopes of producing an Albert Einstein bio pic when he was unceremoniously booted out of Walt Disney Productions in the Fall of 1984. And Miller’s successor — Michael Eisner — hasn’t really shown much interest in Disney Studios doing film biographies. Over the past 20 years, the studios has attempted a handful of movies in this difficult genre (EX: 1994’s “Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale,” 1995’s “Pocahontas” and 1996’s “Nixon”). But — for the most part — the Mouse prefers to produce more mainstream fare.

Though — that said — Eisner did really take to Ron Miller’s idea of having Richard Dreyfuss appear in Disney-produced films. Over the two decades, Dreyfuss has appeared in no less than ten Mouse House projects. These include his on-screen performance in 1986’s “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” 1987’s “Stakeout,” 1991’s “What About Bob?” and 1995’s “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” As well as Richard’s great vocal performance as the Centipede in Henry Selick’s stop motion masterpiece, “James and the Giant Peach.”

Still, as fun as all those films are … I can’t help but think about the Richard Dreyfuss movie that we all missed out on: Disney’s “Einstein,” the film that was going to try and make physics fun.

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  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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