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The “Chanticleer” Saga — Part 2

In this three part series from August 2000, Jim Hill looks at the long history of the Walt Disney Company’s attempts to turn Edmund Rostand’s satirical comedy, “Chantecler” into an animated motion picture.

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OUR STORY SO FAR: For over a decade, Walt Disney and his animators struggled to turn Edmond Rostand’s satiric play, “Chantecler,” into a feature length animated film. But — in spite of the efforts of dozens of talented artists and gag men — no one at the studio could ever figure out how to pull this project off. The story of this 1910 French barnyard comedy just seemed too slight to support a feature length film.

So — in the early 1950s — Walt reluctantly shelved the project. All of that great development art Disney’s team had created for this proposed film got tucked away in the animation archives (a.k.a. the morgue or — as it’s known today: The Animation Research Library). It would be another 10 years before Disney artists would reopen the files and take one more shot at bringing this barnyard comedy to the big screen.

Those artists were Disney animators Marc Davis and Ken Anderson. They discovered all the “Chanticleer” stuff one day while they were poking around the morgue. Having just completed “101 Dalmatians,” Marc and Ken were looking for a idea that they could develop into the studio’s next animated feature. Something bold. Something funny. Something that these two could use to help push Disney Feature Animation into the 1960s.

Looking over all of that developmental material from the 1940s, Davis thought he might have finally found something he could work with…

But first they had to win Walt over to their idea.

When Ken and Marc told Disney that they wanted to revive the “Chanticleer” feature idea, Walt was initially thrilled. After all, he’d been trying to make a movie made out of Rostand’s play for over 20 years at this point. But then Disney hesitated for a moment. “What about the plot?,” Walt asked. “No one’s ever been able to pull a decent cartoon out of this play yet. What are you two going that’s finally going to make this thing work?”

“Simple,” Marc said. “We’re not going to use the play. Ken and I aren’t even going to read the play. We’ll take the bare bones of the story and just make something up.”

It was a pretty audacious way to try and adapt a well-known story to the screen. But Disney loved the idea. (So much so that when the studio began working on a cartoon adaptation of “The Jungle Book,” Walt’s only advice to the story team — after tossing a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s book in the middle of the story conference room table — was to say “Here’s the novel. Now the first thing I want you to do is not read it.”)

So Ken and Marc holed up in an office at Disney Feature Animation for months, doing character sketches and playing with various story ideas. The first thing they did was abandon all the work that the studio had done previously on “Chanticleer.” Their hope was that — by getting a fresh start — they might be able to come up with something original: a light-on-its-feet satiric cartoon comedy. Something similar to Frank Loesser’s 1961 Broadway hit, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” — a show that made a lot of clever, pointed jokes but never put them across in a mean spirited way.

The film’s hero had to be — obviously — Chanticleer, a well meaning but not terribly bright rooster. He — and all the other chickens that lived in his village — honestly did believe that the sun came up only because Chanticleer’s crowing awakened it every morning. The ladies of the village all swooned at the sight of the handsome young ***. The men in the village all wanted to be his best friend. (Think of Chanticleer as a kinder, gentler version of Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast.”)

In fact, Chanticleer is so well liked that the people of the village decide to elect him Mayor. Naturally, all that power goes to his somewhat empty head. So Chanticleer starts nagging the hens to produce more eggs … which — of course — annoyed the ladies.

Enter the villain: Reynard the Fox. A shady character in a battered top hat, Reynard has a pencil thin mustache and continental charm. But behind those smooth words and those heavily lidded eyes, this fox is nothing more than a slick con artist — always playing the angles, always on the make.

Quickly sizing up Chanticleer’s sleepy village as a fruit — ripe for the plucking, Reynard sweet-talks some of the ladies of the village just so he can learn the lay of the land. The fox quickly ascertains that the chickens are unhappy under the rooster’s stern leadership and that the hens long to have a little fun.

That’s all Reynard has to hear. He slips out of town, only to return the very next day with his dark carnival. Run entirely by creatures of the night (owls, bobcats, moles, etc.) and birds of prey (vultures), the villagers have never seen anything like it. So the chickens stay up all night — singing, dancing and playing games of chance. When morning comes, the hens are entirely too tired to lay any eggs.

Chanticleer views the chickens’ behavior as civil disobedience, as a direct challenge to his authority. So he orders Reynard and his carnival to leave the village at once. The fox responds by saying that he thinks it’s time for a change in leadership in town. That’s when Reynard then announces that he’s running for mayor of the village.

Alright. I know. This doesn’t exactly sound like an award winning plot. And truth be told, it actually gets sillier from this point in: Chanticleer gets suckered into a pre-dawn duel with a Spanish fighting ***. (The Spaniard — as it turns out — is secretly working for Reynard.) Chanticleer is so busy trying not to get killed in this fight that he doesn’t notice that the sun has risen without his crowing that morning.

After the fight, Chanticleer realizes that he’s been a complete ass. He doesn’t control the sun anymore than he can control the other chickens in his village. Yet — because of his sincerity and newly humble nature — the villagers find it in their hearts to forgive him.

Working together, Chanticleer and the rest of the chickens rid the town of Reynard and his dark carnival. From that point forward, Chanticleer becomes the kind, good-hearted, thoughtful leader that the villagers had always hoped he’d be. Every morning, he still crows — not to wake the sun, mind you. But to wake his friends so that they can begin yet another day in their beautiful little French town.

Yes. Again, I know. The story sounds silly. Far too thin to support a feature length film. But what you haven’t seen are all the great characters Marc and Ken came up with to people this odd little story. Marc drew literally hundreds of concept sketches which show beautiful French hens decked out in their turn-of-the-century finery. Each of the villagers has a hat, coat or cape. Wearing glasses or clutching canes, they stare up at you — with their bright eyes and wide smiles — out of the concept sketches and seem to scream: “Animate me!”

These stylized characters — with their wonderful period costumes and stylized comic design — would have actually helped Anderson and Davis pull “Chanticleer” off. For Marc and Ken were really hoping to do something ballsy, something original with this film. They envisioned “Chanticleer” as an animated equivalent of a French farce. Something so light on its feet and fiercely funny that you never notice the elephant sized holes in the plot.

Music too would have played a huge part in this film. Marc actually planned for the entire introductory sequence of “Chanticleer” to be done in song. Characters would have entered, literally lugging scenery to help set the stage for the show. Much in the style of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s “Belle” opening number for “Beauty and the Beast,” the villagers would have sung about Chanticleer:

“… We love him so, ’cause he brings the sun up, you know …”

The ironic part of all this was — as Marc and Ken were laboring to create a film that would move Disney Feature Animation into the 1960s — Disney’s accountants were trying to convince Walt to stop making cartoons entirely.

I know that nowadays — when an animated feature can make as much as $133 million (“Dinosaur”‘s current domestic gross) — it must sound strange that the Walt Disney Company had ever considered getting out of the animation business. But it’s true, kids.

At the time (1960 / 1961), Disney had already produced some 17 feature length animated films. Roy tried to persuade Walt that these were more than enough toon titles to adequately stock the studio’s film library. Studies had shown that Walt Disney Productions could release a different cartoon classics (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchio,” “Cinderella,” et al) each year and still make a healthy profit off the old movies. So there was really no sense in the company wasting any additional moneys making new animated films.

Walt at first strongly resisted this idea. But Roy knew just what cards to play. He had heard that his brother was toying with building another Disneyland somewhere in the United States. Roy also knew that this park — which was supposed to be at least ten times larger that the original Anaheim project — was going to be expensive.

“You’d have all the money you needed to get started on your new park,” the elder Disney suggested, “if you just shut down feature animation.”

Walt again hesitated. For this was truly a tempting offer. All the money he needed to get started on his second park. Plus the cash necessary to fund the project that Disney was really interested in in those days: audio animatronics. Never mind that old, two dimensional stuff in “101 Dalmatians” and “Sleeping Beauty.” The three dimensional animated figures that Wathel Rogers and the other guys at WED were working on — the birds, that Chinaman’s head — that was what really intrigued Walt back then.

Disney had always been a forward thinking guy. He may have loved nostalgia, but he was also eager to tackle new projects, try new things. Compared to audio animatronics, animation did seem kind of old fashioned. But did Walt really dare to shut down Disney Feature Animation?

For weeks, the younger Disney debated the idea with his elder brother, Roy. In the end, Walt just couldn’t bring himself to do it. Walt Disney Productions’ financial security had initially been built on the popularity of the company’s animated movies. To stop making these fine family films entirely would just send the wrong message to the entertainment industry. So it just didn’t seem prudent to totally pull the plug.

But what Walt did agree to do was to try scaling back animation production at the studio. Instead of a new animated feature every two years (the pace the company had tried to meet throughout the 1950s), Disney agreed to let Roy reconfigure things so that a new toon would come out once every four years.

The trouble was the studio currently had two animated films in active development: Bill Peet’s adaptation of T. H. White’s Arthurian fantasy, “The Sword and the Stone” and Marc Davis and Ken Anderson’s “Chanticleer.” To meet Roy’s new animation business plan, one of these projects was going to have to be shut down.

Guess which movie hits the cutting room floor?

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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