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The John Hench Legacy

And the John Hench tributes continue … as guest columnist Vance Rest returns with an article which explains how Hench’s ideas will continue to inspire both Disney theme park guests as well as Imagineers for generations yet to come.

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Last Thursday afternoon, I was on the phone with Vance Rest (I.E. The writer who shared many of his concepts for rebuilding & revitalizing the Walt Disney Company in last week’s “Once and Future Kingdom” series.

Anyway … the two of us were chuckling about how Walt Disney Feature Animation was supposedly going to produce their very own “Toy Story” sequel without any creative input from Pixar (“If you haven’t seen Hillary Duff play Buzz Lightyear, you haven’t seen Shakespeare the way it was meant to be seen,” Zance quipped), when Nancy answered the other line at our house. It was my ex, Michelle Smith (AKA the Fabulous Disney Babe) with a really horrible bit of news: John Hench had died.

With that, all the fun went out of the phone call. Vance and I spent the next ten or fifteen minutes discussing John’s many achievements: his work at Feature Animation, his Oscar-winning effects work on “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (a HUGE favorite of Vance’s), his decades of service to the Disney parks, most notably as a storyteller through color.

Then Rest said something that really caught me by surprise: “Years from now, those achievements will be but a fraction of John Hench’s remarkable legacy.”

“Excuse me?” I stammered. “Did John Hench leave some sort of legacy that I — and the rest of the Disney dweeb community — were yet unaware of?” Vance then went on to rhapsodize about some of the more lesser known concepts that Hench had spun out during his nearly 50 year tenure at Walt Disney Imagineering. Ideas that will serve as inspiration for decades yet to come. Both to the folks that visit the Disney theme parks as well as the artists and engineers that create them.

Simply dazzled by the brilliance of John’s yet-unused ideas, I asked Vance if it would be okay to share this story with JHM readers. “It would be my honor,” he replied.

So — in sort on an encore to his highly acclaimed “Once & Future Kingdom” series — here is Vance Rest to share a piece of John Hench’s as-yet-undiscovered legacy.

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JOHN HENCH and the BUILDING FROM NOWHERE

John Hench worked in colors the way Steven Sondheim works in lyrics. And his yeoman-like dedication to his craft is the Gold standard that the rest of folks who work the Themed Entertianment Industry strive to live up to.

His silver tongue and flawless eye for color are legendary. But it is John Hench’s surprising creative foresight and eagerness to impart his unparalleled insight that will perhaps be his most vibrant legacy.

“Designing Disney” comes in Hard Cover. It should come in Stone Tablets.

No one would have faulted John Hench for writing a traditional autobiography. After all, the man led a pretty phenomenal life. Just the time he spent with Salvador Dali provided enough fodder for a full-length play (Kira Obolensky’s “Lobster Alice”). But — being the elegant and self effacing soul that he was — Hench wouldn’t be content cranking out something that was that self-indulgent. So — late in life — John set himself a higher goal: Which was to tackle the amorphous riddles of creating Disney Theme Park Magic.

Just what are the secrets of designing public spaces that immediately resonate with emotions? How are steel, concrete and fiberglass imbued with pixie dust? How do you tell a story to men, women and children from all walks of life, from every conceivable corner of the earth entirely with environment?

John knew, and he shared it with us. His book “Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show” finally gave the craft of Imagineering its very own version of Frank and Ollie’s animation bible, “The Illusion of Life.” It’s kind of a miraculous thing.

When Frank and Ollie initially published “The Illusion of Life” back in 1981, animation was a vanishing wraith — fading to a memory. Then when Animation was reborn (“The Great Mouse Detective,” the explosion of the collectible cel market, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” the celebration surrounding Mickey’s 60th Birthday, “The Little Mermaid,” etc. ), a second generation of Animators had Frank and Ollie’s book to turn to for guidance. This much beloved volume actually helped launch the second Golden Age of Disney Animation.

Which — given the parallels between what was happening to Disney Feature Animation then and what’s happening to Walt Disney Imagineering right now — is why it’s rather fitting that John’s magnum opus debut now. Just as Immersive Storytelling & WDI in particular emerge from their darkest hour.

John’s book is constructed just as the parks are, in layers of experience. Reading and rereading his book, each time there is new applicability and resonance to the concepts he discusses. His section on “Liking the Guest and Spending Time with Them” (pages 20-21) should be PANI projected onto the side of the Team Disney buildings.

Maybe more than anything else, John understood the guests’ experience as a continuous whole, sinuously flowing, dream-like, and he knew how to keep from breaking that spell. And his greatest concepts mirror that understanding, the arc of the guests’ day.

The Building From NOWHERE

Decades ahead of their time, there was no end to John’s boundary-breaking creativity. And perhaps John Hench’s most revolutionary idea (which he had been floating for years) was a concept to the effect of…

Guests have been walking up and down Main Street U.S.A. all day, giving little notice to that vacant lot that sits on the corner … What if — at sunset — an eerie fog and creepy sound effects washed over this part of the park. And then – as the fog lifts — a brand new building has appeared in the vacant lot. This Building from NOWHERE could then become the threshold to a thrilling new adventure at the theme park.

It will be a long, long time before we can really fully appreciate just how earth-shatteringly innovative this one idea is. More than any other, this concept illustrates John’s mastery of the guest experience — as a single cohesive story — building in climactic theatricality.

Once you are able to pull your jaw up from the floor and mute the trillions of ideas that rocket through your head upon hearing such a marvelous idea, the logistical problems involved in pulling off a bold concept begin to creep in.

The Devil’s Advocate part of you spoils the fun the excited little kid in you was having. “There’s no way you can give enough guests the chance to experience an attraction that’s only open for the last 4 or 5 hours park operation.” That’s true, unless you really see how far the storytelling possibilities of John’s inspired concept stretch.

Imagine an attraction that you experience one way all day. Then, at sunset, there is a show or something truly miraculous that transforms the entrance — nay — the entire facade of the attraction. Now you re-enter the attraction through a different entrance, travel through a different queue and find the attraction in a completely different state of being.

*What if the Villains took over an attraction at sunset? What would the differences be in a “Hercules” attraction if you no longer entered through Mount Olympus, but instead found yourself wandering through an Underworld Job Fair hosted by Hades? Are Pain and Panic along for the ride now, whereas before they weren’t?

*What if Jack Skellington and his Halloweentown friends took over the “Haunted Mansion” each night at sunset — as if returning home after a long day at work? Could there be a shift change at the Mansion? Would we get to see the 999 happy haunts sail away on a ghost ship on the Rivers of America — in a nightly ritual/commute to ‘come out and socialize’ in the real world?

*What if you entered a “Perils of Mickey” attraction through our hero’s home but — at a certain time of day — you instead enter through the Mobile Laboratory of the sinister Phantom Blot, who has tunneled up through Mickey’s front lawn? Has the Blot now sucked all of the color out of the original Show? Is your mission somehow different now? Is this ride interactive now (Something it wasn’t prior to this metamorphosis)?

*What if — at some point during the day — Captain Nemo rammed the Nautilus into Epcot’s Living Seas pavilion? And Nemo’s crew then proceeded to seize control of Sea Base Alpha & tell the Ocean’s side of the Story for the remainder of the day? Or “Finding Nemo”s Tank Gang for that matter?

*What if there was a galloping change? One which, depending on which night you visited, would metamorphose a different entrance and attraction? What if Stitch’s spaceship crashed into a different Fantasyland Classic each night of the week? After which he would proceed to wreak havoc inside that ride (much as he did in the Inter-STITCHials of the film’s brilliant ad campaign)?

That is the MAGIC of John Hench’s concept. There is absolutely NO END to the possibilities of an idea as unabashedly innovative as his. In the decades ahead, we’ll only scratch the surface of the full potential locked in John’s Ever-Lasting SPARK.

Imagine a theme park … Not a theme park as you know them now, where you still the passive observer inside of immersive stories … But a park where you are the hero inside of these immersive environment, fighting alongside your favorite characters in stories that grow with your involvement. Couldn’t this park, with John Hench’s ‘Building from Nowhere’ concept as its guide, be created each morning, right before our eyes?

John Hench was a true Imagineer in every sense of the word. And perhaps his greatest legacy is — in fact — his ability to inspire others. I fervently believe his “Designing Disney: Imagineering and the Art of the Show” will eventually be the North Star for Creatives the world over for many, many years to come. And John’s ideas, such as the “Building from Nowhere,” will resonate out into Art forms that we can not yet conceive of in our lifetimes.

So when you watch a film John worked on, or visit the Disney parks, remember the steadfast dedication that this TITAN (perhaps one of the most stirringly brilliant Creatives who ever lived) brought to his craft. And take comfort in the fact that the breadth of his talents have not yet begun to be explored.

— Vance Rest honored to be a disciple of John Hench

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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