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Thanks to “Save Disney,” March came in like a lion, but went out like a lamb

Jim Hill wants to know: What happened to “Round Two” of Roy Disney and Stanley Gold’s effort to oust Michael Eisner? Could “Save Disney”‘s decision to sit out most of March actually have cost the Walt Disney Company its one-and-only chance to renew its deal with Pixar Animation Studios?

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I know, I know. It’s April Fool’s Day. So you’re all probably expecting JimHillMedia.com to run some sort of prank story this morning, right? You know, an article that initially sounds serious but eventually turns out to be this elaborate spoof.

Well, I’ve never really been a big fan of pranks. So how’s about we start a new April Fool’s Day tradition instead? How’s about — instead of me trying to put one over on you guys — we use April 1st as an opportunity to talk seriously about someone who’s been acting … well … kind of foolishly lately.

Which is why — this morning — I’d like to talk about Roy Disney and Stanley Gold.

(Okay. We’ll pause now for a moment. So that those of you who just did a spit take on your screen can now go get a cloth and quickly clean off the front on your monitor.)

“What’s that you say, Jim?!” you sputter. “You dare to suggest that Roy Disney and Stanley Gold have been acting foolishly lately? How can you possibly say that? I mean, aren’t these the guys who masterminded the whole ‘Save Disney’ campaign? Who carefully orchestrated events — rallying not only Disneyana fans but individual and institutional shareholders as well. Not to mention expertly courting the financial press. Which resulted in that unprecedented 43.4% withhold vote at last month’s Disney shareholder’s meeting in Philadelphia. Given all that Roy and Stanley have accomplished so far, how can you possibly suggest that these two brilliant businessmen have been acting foolishly lately?”

Well …For starters … Please note that the operative term in the phrase “… been acting foolishly lately” is “lately.”

Look, there’s no denying that Roy and Stanley’s “Save Disney” effort came out of Philadelphia with lots and lots of momentum. But that shareholder’s meeting? That was back on March 3rd, folks. Over four weeks ago.

“So what have Disney and Gold actually done since their triumph in Philly?” you ask. To be honest, not a whole hell of a lot. Sure, Roy and Stanley loudly proclaimed “Welcome to Round 2!” Which supposedly indicated that their epic effort to oust embattled Disney CEO Michael Eisner would now be entering extra innings. But — after that — there’s been precious little swinging for the fences.

Which is why all that great momentum that the “Save Disney” movement had coming out of Philadelphia has (sadly) begun to dissipate. The business press? Those reporters are no longer hanging on every word that Disney and Gold utter. They’ve all moved on to other stories now. Like the Tyco mistrial and Martha Stewart’s sentencing.

And the Disney Faithful? All those folks who came out of that rally at the Loews Hotel absolutely raring to go, eager to go into battle against Eisner? … For the most part, these people have grown tired of just sitting around, waiting for Roy and Stanley to tell them what they should be doing next. Which is why you see so many of these folks selling off the contents of their “Save Disney” gift bags.

Don’t believe me? Then head on over to eBay. Where you’ll find that “Save Disney” cloisonné pin (You know? The one that features a caricature of Roy?) has been fetching $20 — $25 a pop whenever it comes up for auction.

Mind you, this isn’t to say that the folks over at “Save Disney” have done absolutely nothing to try and keep the Disney Faithful engaged. In addition to running a regular assortment of articles culled from a variety of sources (Which — typically — try to put the most recent activities of the Walt Disney Company in the worst people light), the folks who run that website have begun running a series of polls. Which ask “Save Disney” readers extremely dweeby questions like “Which closed Magic Kingdom attraction would you like to see return?” and “Do you think computer animation should replace traditional cel animation?”

Which some may find fun and engaging. But posting poll questions and reprinting negative newspaper articles isn’t really enough to keep the Disney Faithful interested, now is it? These folks were looking for Roy and Stanley to give them some definitive marching orders. When those orders failed to come in the weeks immediately following Philadelphia, these people (just as the financial press did) began to lose interest in the “Save Disney” cause.

The problem here (as I see it, anyway) is focus. Or — rather — “Save Disney”‘s lack of focus. Here, Roy and Stanley had accomplished this truly extraordinary thing. For the first time ever in American corporate history, they had amassed this great army of people on-line. They then energized both individual and institutional shareholders, making these folks eager to do Disney and Gold’s bidding …

But then Roy and Stanley squandered that opportunity. Foolishly frittering away all the energy and excitement that last month’s events in Philadelphia helped generate. By announcing “Round 2” but then not actually following through with any sort of visible plan (which explained clearly to both the public and the press what the second phase of the “Save Disney” campaign would actually entail), Disney and Gold unintentionally let their story slip out of the spotlight.

Which explains what happened last week. When Roy and Stanley tried to get the press all excited about “Save Disney”‘s latest effort (Which was to try and force the Walt Disney Company to prematurely reveal how many participants of the corporation’s own 401k plan had opted to withhold their vote for Eisner last month) … only to have reporters respond to this alleged news item with a collective shrug.

What (I think) the “Save Disney” people failed to take into account in their battle plan was the ever shrinking American attention span. Sure, Disney and Gold were the media’s darlings at the beginning of March. But this is now the beginning of April. And because their “Oust Eisner” effort no longer has the heat that it once had, now Roy and Stanley have to do something really spectacular in order for their cause to regain the spotlight.

And the sad fact of the matter is: There were stories out there that Disney and Gold could have easily exploited during the month of March. Events that they could have used to re-energize the Disney Faithful, not to mention stories that they could have fed to the media that would have helped keep “Save Disney” in the media spotlight.

I mean, where were Roy and Stanley when Disneyland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railway attraction quietly re-opened the middle of last month? Shouldn’t these two have embraced this obvious opportunity to talk to the press about how the corporation’s continuing cost containment efforts appear to have compromised guests safety at the theme parks?

And where were Disney and Gold last month when Donovan Cook suddenly announced that he was trying to get Walt Disney Pictures to release his new animated version of “The Three Musketeers” (which stars Mickey, Donald and Goofy) theatrically? Shouldn’t “Save Disney” have quickly formed an alliance with this disenfranchised Disney Toon director? Pointing out that “Here is yet another example of how Michael Eisner has mis-used the company’s resources. Refusing to let a new Mickey Mouse movie — a film that features the very character that the Walt Disney Company was founded on — be put out in theaters. But — rather -sending ‘The Three Musketeers’ straight to home video.”

These are just two of the opportunities that “Save Disney” squandered last month. Rather than attempt to keep their supporters focused, keep the press interested in their “Oust Eisner” effort … Roy and Stanley’s team just seemed to decide — after their winning effort in Philadelphia — to just sit out most of March. To bask in the glow of their accomplishment. Not seeming to realize that — in the rush-rush-rush of today’s modern life — that time is now measured in dog years.

Which means that sitting on your laurels for a period as seemingly short as four weeks can sometimes wind up costing you dearly.

I mean, you can bet that the members of Disney’s board of directors didn’t waste the last four weeks. Based on what I’ve been hearing coming out of Burbank lately, those folks have really taken advantage of this somewhat awkward pause in Roy and Stanley’s “Save Disney” campaign.

By that I mean: Eisner and Co. spent the last 28 days flying all over the country, mending fences wherever they could. Making phone calls to key executives, meeting with institutional investors, promising that the Walt Disney Company will soon be addressing any and all of the concerns that the shareholders voiced during the annual meeting in Philadelphia … the end result being that Michael Eisner has actually managed to undone much of the damage that Roy Disney and Stanley Gold did to Disney’s CEO back in March .

Don’t get me wrong, folks. Eisner is still in a very precarious position. And — admittedly — his reputation remains in tatters. But because Roy and Stanley didn’t move more aggressively in March, because “Save Disney” didn’t take advantage of all the opportunities that was presented last month … Now Disney’s CEO has had a chance to regroup, to gather his forces, to get himself firmly entrenched …

Which means that now this guy is going to be that much harder to pry out of his corner office. Which — given that the Pixar countdown clock continues to tick — is a real shame.

I mean, who knows how much closer Michael Eisner would be now to actually getting the boot if Roy and Stanley hadn’t opted to sit out most of March?

Please understand that I am NOT switching sides here, people. See that “Save Disney” banner at the top of this web page? That means that I remain a supporter of Disney and Gold’s efforts of oust Eisner. That I still think that it’s high time that the Walt Disney Company got a new management team.

But — that said — that still doesn’t mean that I wholeheartedly support the way Roy and Stanley have been running their “Save Disney” campaign. I think that these guys had a hell of a lead during the first week of March. But then they blew that lead by announcing “Round 2,” but then never quite got around to announcing what “Round 2” might actually entail.

So now Disney and Gold have to fight their way back into the spotlight. Somehow convince the press and the public to care about their “Save Disney” cause again. And that won’t be easy, folks. Particularly given the attitude that the general public has about this whole Roy / Stanley / Michael situation nowadays. Were you to stop someone on the street and ask: “What do you know about Michael Eisner?” they’d probably respond with “Wasn’t he the guy who got fired from the Walt Disney Company last month?”

No, Michael Eisner DIDN’T get fired. He’s still firmly in control of the Mouse House, folks. More importantly, this guy shows no signs that he’ll be heading for the exits anytime soon.

And that’s NOT how things looked back on March 3rd. Back then, Eisner appeared to be seriously wounded. Disney’s CEO seemed to be circling the drain. And all that Roy and Stanley needed to do then was deliver the killing blow.

But then — in all the hoopla surrounding their stunning success in Philadelphia — these guys evidently neglect to actually deliver that killing blow. They announced “Round 2,” but then somehow forgot that they had to still fight.

Next time around, guys, no resting on your laurels, okay? Because Disney and Gold opted to sit out most of the month of March, now Pixar’s in real danger of signing with some other studio.

Which is a hell of a price to pay, don’t you think? All because “Save Disney” didn’t really have its act together when it came to Phase II of its “Oust Eisner” effort.

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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