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Rumblings at the WDI water cooler

Jim Hill’s been hanging around the water cooler at Walt Disney Imagineering and what he’s heard gets fairly interesting. Will DAK get Lucky? Is “Expedition Everest” due for a rewrite? And is there another WDI layoff in the wings?



It’s a really interesting time at Walt Disney Imagineering. Plenty of people on edge right now. Which — given all the rumors that have been flying around Flower Street lately — is understandable. All this talk about another round of lay-offs coming in October. Right at the start of Disney’s new fiscal year.

Still, not all the news that is coming out of Glendale these days is totally bleak. Here and there, there are still little glimmers of hope. Small indications that — if the planets align properly — we may soon see some fun new rides and shows at the Disney theme parks.

“What glimmers of hope?” you ask. Okay. How many of you know about Lucky? That walking Audio Animatronic that WDI was field testing in DCA earlier this month?

Well, you may look at that figure and just see a robotic dinosaur. But the Imagineers … they look at Lucky and see a Trojan horse. A way for Walt Disney Imagineering to sneak a number of projects that have stalled out over the past few years back up on their feet. So to speak.

Take — for instance — Beastly Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s long-delayed new “land.” BK has been in a holding pattern ever since DAK initially opened back in April 1998. The idea was that construction of Beastly Kingdom would be held up until WDW’s newest theme park needed some new rides and shows to help out with capacity. But — given that DAK never even came close to meeting its attendance projects — it looked like BK (with its clever mix of mythological-based attractions) was going to be stuck on the Mouse’s back burner for … well, forever.

But then along came Lucky. And the Imagineers — sensing all the creative possibilities that were inherent in this amazing walking AA figure — began to feel pretty lucky themselves.

“So how is Lucky the Dinosaur going to help WDI finally get Beastly Kingdom built?” you query. Patience, Grasshopper. All will be explained shortly.

Now, the suits at Team Disney Burbank got one look at Lucky and said “Cool. A walking dinosaur. Let’s drop that walking AA figure into Dinoland U.S.A. as an extra added attraction at DAK.” But — according to the stories that I’ve been hearing from supposedly in-the-know Imagineers — the guys at WDI are trying to convince Disney’s brass to go another way here.

“What way?” you press. Well, these guys supposedly began talking about how attendance has been steadily eroding for the “Pocahontas and her Forest Friends” show over at Camp MinnieMickey. And that — given that Dinoland U.S.A. just had two new attractions added to that “land” as part of the “Chester & Hester’s Dino-rama!” expansion project — it would probably be smarter in the long run (at least from the guest flow point of view) to place DAK’s new Lucky-based attraction on the other side of the theme park. Balance the new attractions out, so to speak.

“But how would a dinosaur ever fit in over at Camp MinnieMickey?” you stammer. Not to worry. The Imagineers have already allegedly figured this out. They’d just pull down all that faux forest dressing that WDW’s Entertainment Office used to decorate the “Pocahontas” stage area … then turn this part of the outdoor arena into a place where a kindly old wizard might live. A thatched cottage with a small barn attached. You get the idea.

Anyway … several times a day, the wizard would come out of his cottage. (“Who’s the wizard going to be?” you ask. Well, there’s been reportedly been some thought given to using the Merlin character from Disney’s “Sword in the Stone” as the possible host of this new DAK show. Having a live actor put on the long beard and pointed cap.) The show would supposedly start off with the wizard doing various comical magic tricks (which would — of course — key off of practical effects that had been built right into the stage set).

This would go on for five minutes or so. But the real highlight of the show would be when the wizard would ask the audience to help him with some magical incantation. The doors to the barn would dramatically fly open … and a baby dragon (think Lucky, only colored purple with a ridge of scales running down his back) would come strolling out of the barn.

The wizard would then put the dragon through his paces. Have him do all the same tricks that Lucky had been doing during his daily appearances at DCA. The wizard would then select members of the audience to come on down and interact with the walking Audio Animatronic. The dragon would sign autographs. Pose for pictures, etc. You know the drill.

Then — after 20 minutes or so of this — the wizard would announce that it was time for the baby to take his nap. Then this cast member would lead Lucky back into the barn. The doors would close magically behind them … and DAK guests would exit the arena, having really been wowed by their up-close encounter with a walking, grunting, sneezing really-for-real (well … really-for-real seeming) baby dragon.

“And how is that this really humble sounding show going to help WDI resurrect Beastly Kingdom?” you grumble. Well, think of the Lucky/wizard show as WDI’s way of establishing a magical beachhead in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Getting a toehold on this turf.

By getting the “Lucky the Dragon” show installed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Imagineers get some medieval fantasy elements into this theme park. With the hope that — should this new DAK show prove to be a success — that other sword-and-sorcery stuff can soon follow.

Now let me stress here that this is far from a done deal, folks. This show proposal is something that’s still very much in the talking phase at WDI. To my knowledge, this rather intriguing concept has yet to be formally pitched to Imagineering management. Let alone to Eisner and Co. But — that said — a number of folks at Walt Disney Imagineering are said to be very excited about this idea.

“Think about it, Jim,” my WDI insider enthused. “If we can get the ‘Lucky the Dragon’ show up out of the ground over in Camp MinnieMickey, maybe the year after it opens we can get a shop that looks like a medieval tournament tent built right next to the arena. Which we can sell image capture of Lucky to Animal Kingdom’s guests.”

“And — when that store starts making some money — we can then justify adding some additional tent-like buildings to the area. Shops that sell medieval-era eats. Turkey legs. Shish-kabobs. You get the idea.”

“And — should Lucky continue to be a draw with WDW visitors over a couple of years and people keep shopping at that medieval-themed store and buying that medieval-themed food — maybe then we can finally sell Burbank on the idea of building Beastly Kingdom. All this earlier magical/medieval stuff will be our proof of concept. Proving to the suits that a full-blown version of this land could be a real success with the public.”

“Sure, this is the slow-but-steady approach, Jim. Which will probably frustrate all the fantasy fans as well as the coaster freaks. The people who want ‘Dare the Dragon’ to be open yesterday. But — given that absolutely nothing is going on with Beastly Kingdom right now — I’ll take slow-and-steady any day.”

Once again — I have to stress here, folks — that this is far from a done deal. One potentially huge roadblock to this “Lucky the Dragon” project ever becoming a reality is the fact that Camp MinnieMickey is pretty much under the control of WDW’s Entertainment Office. The folks who oversee all of the performers who appear in “Festival of the Lion King” as well as “Pocahontas and her Forest Friends.” Not to mention those cast members who appear in character costume and pose for pictures and sign autographs for the tourists.

So — given that the “Lucky the Dragon” show would probably fall under the jurisdiction of WDI — I can’t imagine that WDW’s Entertainment Department would be all that eager to have the Imagineers take over the “Forest Friends” arena. Lose that piece of turf, so to speak.

But — on the other hand — given that the wizard that would appear as the host of the “Lucky the Dragon” show would probably be a performer that WDW’s Entertainment staffers would have some control over, maybe this wouldn’t actually be as big a stumbling block as I might think.

Whatever ends up happening here (I.E. whether Camp MinnieMickey will have a baby dragon moving in someday soon), will keep you posted on the project.

Another project that we’ll definitely be keeping our eyes on is DAK’s “Expedition Everest.” Which may have to have its previously announced storyline tweaked in the not-so distant future.

What’s the problem with this still-under-construction thrill ride? Well, think about it, kids. DCA’s “Superstar Limo” was originally supposed to be this “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”-like attraction. A ride that took guests on a hair-raising trip through Hollywood, while the paparazzi chased your limo. But then Princess Di was killed in that tragic crash. And suddenly riding in a fast-moving limousine, pretending to be a celebrity as you are pursued by rabid reporters, didn’t seem like such a fun idea anymore.

Okay. So now we have “Expedition Everest.” A thrill ride whose big exciting moment was supposed to have come when the cog railway train that you were riding in suddenly becomes separated from its donkey engine. Which causes that train to start sliding swiftly back down the steep mountainside.

Well, given that Disneyland’s Big Thunder tragedy was supposedly caused when one of the coaster’s faux engines suddenly became separated from its set of cars, there are some folks at WDI who are now suggesting that it might be bad taste for the Walt Disney Company to go forward with this DAK attraction now. At least with all of the thrill ride’s original story points still in place.

What’s supposedly being suggested now as a possible fix for this potentially offensive situation is that “Expedition Everest” should lose its train-separating-from-its-engine element. To just have the whole train suddenly lose power just as it reaches the summit. (Maybe slip off its chain; after all, “EE” is an attraction that’s supposedly set aboard a cog railway.)

Just as with DAK’s “Lucky the Dragon” show idea, this potential story change at “Expedition Everest” is pretty much in the talking phase, people. And — given that this is WDI that we’re talking about here, folks — let’s remember that all stories are subject to change. Quickly. With little or no warning.

That said, I still thought JHM readers might enjoy hearing what’s being talked about these days inside of WDI. A place that’s full of some very creative, extremely nervous people right now.

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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