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“Moving Innovation” is a ridiculously entertaining & informative look back at the history of computer animation



"Discover a new world with Epic the Movie by Blue Sky Studios, a brand-new 3D animated film from the people who brought you Ice Age ."

That's the message that the folks who work in promotions at 20th Century Fox have been hammering home for the past few weeks. As they try & make sure that as many would-be moviegoers as possible know that this new Chris Wedge movie will soon be opening in theaters. On Friday, May 24th, to be precise.

Copyright FOX and its related entities. All rights reserved

But as Tom Sito points out in his terrific new book, "Moving Innovation: A History of Computer Animation " (The MIT Press, April 2013), it wasn't all that long ago — just a mere 12 years — that Fox had little or no faith in this computer animation operation, which …

" … had been formed in the late 1980s from the survivors of Magi / Synthavision after 'Tron .'

As Blue Sky was completing 'Ice Age,' Fox trimmed their staff down to a skeleton crew and let it be known they would sell (this animation studio) off to the first bidder. There was very little advertising for 'Ice Age,' and it was given a dead-zone release date, late March. There weren't many toy tie-ins because Fox didn't think it would do anything.

Copyright FOX and its related entities.
All rights reserved

'Ice Age' went on to become a smash hit, garnering $188 million in ticket sales in North America, more than that year's live action Best Picture Oscar Winner, A Beautiful Mind . When the results of Ice Age came in, Fox producer Bill Mechanic was reputed to have exclaimed, "Aw $#!+ ! Now we have to stay in animation !"

Academy Award-winning screenwriter William Goldman once famously stated that " .. In Hollywood, no one knows anything." But that axiom doesn't really apply to Tom. You see, Mr. Sito was one of the key players in the revival of Walt Disney Animation Studios in the late 1980s / early 1990s. After having worked on "The Little Mermaid ," "Beauty and the Beast," and "The Lion King ," Tom left Disney to go help set-up DreamWorks Animation. Where he then served as storyboard supervisor on that animation studio's first real CG hit, "Shrek ."

More to the point, given that he was president of The Animation Guild, I.A.T.S.E., Local 839, from 1992 to 2001, Sito can actually bring a dual perspective to the table when he's discussing the arrival of CG and how it forever changed the film industry. He can tell you stories straight from the trenches, sharing personal anecdotes about how the individual animation studios tried to get a handle on this often-balky new technology …

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"Walt Disney's classic 'Beauty and the Beast' began with an enormous camera pullout from the stained glass into a long shot of the Beast's castle. Dan St. Pierre, the layout artist who designed the shot, would pass my desk. 'Crashed the system again …,' he would say with a wry smile of satisfaction."

But thanks to the 40,000-feet-up view that Tom got as president of America's largest animation union, he can also point out those not-so-little moments that wound up transforming the film industry. Take — for example — Steven Spielberg's decision to push back the start of production on "Jurassic Park " so that he could then concentrate all of his creative efforts on completing "Hook ."

If "Jurassic Park" had stuck to its original production schedule … Well, that would have then meant that all of the dinosaur scenes for this Universal Pictures release were split between Stan Winston's FX team (which created all of the oversized animatronic dinos that were actually used on set) and Phil Tippet's group of stop-motion animators (who had originally be tasked with creating more than 50 Go-Motion shots for the big screen version of this Michael Crichton bestseller).


According to Sito, one of the main reasons that Spielberg put off the start of production was that he was unsatisfied with the early test dinosaur footage that Tippet and his team had provided. As Steven explained:

"I brought the tests home and kept watching them over and over. My kids loved the dinosaurs. But as refined and lyrical as the tests were, I still felt they looked too Go-Motionly."

While Spielberg pondered this problem, the CG team at ILM led by supervisor Stefan Fangmeier and Eric Armstrong began a test, animating some Gallimimus dinosaur skeletons galloping as a herd. ILM head Dennis Muren wanted to move cautiously: "No one wanted it more than me, but I had to be responsibly cautious." Animators Steve "Spaz" Williams and Mark Dippe, who had been pushing the envelope on character work since Casper , were feeling pretty confident that they could attempt shots of the dinosaurs that looked photoreal. They began to do "guerilla tests," extra work done after hours so as not to affect their deadlines on other projects. They got a break when Spielberg's production schedule was pushed back so he could complete his previous film, Hook (1991). The extra time allowed them to work out the bugs in the software.


Everyone at ILM watched the progress of both the stop-motion team and the CG artists. Any traditional effects artist or animator who understood trends in the business knew, since Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan , that it was only a matter of time until CG came for their jobs. The off-stated mantra of CG hackers was, "computer animation is a year away!" Stop-motion chief Phil Tippet recalled, "Dennis [Muren] kept me informed on the tests' progress, and I thought, Holy $#!+ ! Here it comes."

By summer 1992, the animators had completed their CG tests. Dennis Muren brought them down to Spielberg's offices on the Universal Studios lot that, because of their southwestern architecture, were nicknamed the Taco Bell. First was of a flock of dinosaur Gallimimus skeletons that leap off their pedestals and run through a field, like a museum exhibit run amok. When Spielberg saw it, his jaw dropped. "I'd never seen movement this smooth, outside of looking at National Geographic documentaries … I wasn't completely convinced until I saw another test of a fully fleshed-out dinosaur in the outside, in the harsh sunlight."

Williams and Dippe's test was of a Tyrannosaurus rex pursuing the now-fleshed-out herd of Gallimimus through a sunlit field. The dappled sunlit fell on the T-rex's leathery skin as he walked under a shade tree, past camera. "I watched this test with Phil (Tippet) and it blew my mind again," Spielberg said. When Spielberg asked Tippet for his reaction, Tippet exclaimed, "I've just become extinct!" Spielberg liked that line so much he wrote it into the movie.

Copyright 2013 The MIT Press. All rights reserved

That's the real joy of "Moving Innovation: A History of Computer Animation." Marrying his obvious skill as a storyteller to his encyclopedic knowledge of animation history, Sito has crafted this ridiculously readable book which is just loaded with entertaining insights. Sometimes surprising …

Director Ted Berman and Richard Rich asked to get the multiplane camera out from storage to create some shots (for The Black Cauldron ). The multiplane was a device invented at Walt Disney in 1937 to simulate the illusion of depth using 2D flat art. This was done by mounting a camera vertically to shoot down through layers of background art painted on glass, all moving to precise calibrations. The multiplane was expensive to use, and Walt had it mothballed after Lady and the Tramp (1955). When (Berman and Rich) tried to get it running again for Cauldron, they discovered hardly anyone remembered how to use it and no one had left behind any written instructions.

Other times quite melancholy …

Tom seated at his line tester while working on "Aladdin"
for Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Starting in 2003 the Walt Disney Company had begun to eliminate most of the traditional animation crew trained by the golden age masters, as simply as one would dump an old typewriter in the attic … When master animator Frank Thomas died in 2004, there was a memorial at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. Many of the former Disney animators there paused to wonder if they were there to mourn Thomas or their own careers …

… "Moving Innovation" is a must-read. Not just if you're an animation fan or a film history buff. But also if you want an up-close look at some of the most powerful people working in Hollywood today.

Take — for example — this surprising admission from Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and President of Walt Disney & Pixar Animation Studios. You'd think that — on the heels of  Toy Story 's enormous box office (not to mention all the critical acclaim that Pixar's first full-length animated feature received when it was first released to theaters back in November of 1995) — that Ed would have been elated. But that wasn't actually what happened.

(L to R) Ed Catmull, Thomas Schumacher, John Lasseter, Michael Eisner, Steve Jobs
and Peter Schneider in the mid-1990s, during the early days of the Disney / Pixar
relationship. Copyright Disney / Pixar. All rights reserved

"I felt a little lost after the success of Toy Story. I took a year to think about it." Oscar Wilde had said that when the Gods wish to punish us, they give us what we want. Now that (Pixar) had conquered the mountain and established CG animation as a viable platform for the creation of theatrical features, what was next? "Organizations are inherently unstable," Catmull thought. "Nothing stays the same. I realized the next goal was to create a culture that is sustainable. That can go on after John [Lasseter] and me."

Isn't that some great writing? That's why I can not recommend "Moving Innovation: A History of Computer Animation" strongly enough. Tom Sito has taken what could have been an overly dry academic study of CG and — through well-thought-out, beautifully-written passages like this …

The great Tyrannosaurus rex of Jurassic Park roaring in triumph as all came crashing down around him represented more than just the climax of one movie. It was a clarion blast to all Hollywood that their century-old way of doing production had changed forever.

Copyright 1993 Universal Pictures. All rights reserved

… — turned it into a real page-turner. So if you want to know how & when computer animation changed the film industry, go pick up a copy of "Moving Innovation" right now.

EDITOR'S NOTE: My apologies for JHM being so light on content this past week or so. But between some pressing family obligations (One of Nancy's nieces graduated from college this past weekend) and a cold that I caught while visiting Pixar last month that just wouldn't quit, I was kind of overtaken-by-events last week. But now that my dance card has cleared up some & the pollen count around here has dropped a bit, hopefully things will be back to normal around here and JHM can then resume its usual 5-new-stories-a-week schedule.

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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