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To Hell with Bill Cosby? Disney already did that with “The Devil and Max Devlin”



Max Devlin

Like a lot of you folks out there, I don’t exactly know how to feel about Bill Cosby right now. I mean, the man is a comedy legend. As a kid, I listened constantly to his LPs and memorized many of his classic stand-up routines. But as someone who’s been writing about the entertainment industry for over 3 decades now, I have long heard the whispers about Bill’s darker side. Which is why when stories began to bubble up about all the women that Cosby had allegedly drugged and then taken advantage of … Well, I can’t exactly say that I was surprised.

So when a longtime friend & fellow Cosby fan called me earlier today and asked if I thought that the press was piling on, needlessly demonizing this 77 year-old, I have to admit that I kind of deflected his question.

“Hey, Disney already demonized Bill Cosby,” I said. “Remember ‘The Devil and Max Devlin.’ “

Copyright 1981 Walt Disney Productions. All rights reserved

This 1981 Walt Disney Productions release may not the worst movie that Bill ever made (After all, Cosby’s filmography includes such gems as 1987’s “Leonard Part 6 ” and 1990’s “Ghost Dad “). But judging by the single mention that “The Devil and Max Devlin” gets in “Cosby: His Life and Times,” (i.e., that new Bill-approved bio which Simon & Schuster published back on September 16th of this year) ‘way back on Page 475 in the “Cosbyography’ section of this book … “Devlin” clearly isn’t a project that Cosby was particularly proud of.

Which is understandable. Given that — back in the early 1980s — out of the eight major studios that were still making motion pictures in Hollywood at that time, Disney was eighth out of eight. At a time when people were flocking to see 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back ” and 1981’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark ,” the Mouse was making “Star Wars” wannabe films like 1979’s “The Black Hole ” and stale sequels that no one ever wanted to see like 1980’s “Herbie Goes Bananas .”

More to the point, Bill knew what people in the industry said about those performers who found themselves working for Walt Disney Productions in the late 1970s / early 1980s.That ” … Disney either gets you on the way up or the way down.” And that if you had once been a top-billed performer who now found themselves working for the Mouse Factory … Well, you then knew that you were having some pretty serious career problems.

Bill Cosby on the set of his ill-fated ABC variety show, 1976’s “Cos.” Copyright the American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

And the late 1970s hadn’t exactly been kind to Bill Cosby. His most recent attempt at a television series — 1976’s “Cos” — only aired seven episodes before ABC cancelled it. And the last motion picture that Bill appeared in — the 1978 ensemble comedy, “Neil Simon’s California Suite ” — had seriously under-performed at the box office. Mind you, he still had his high lucrative stand-up gigs (not to mention the veritable fortune that Cosby made while working as a spokesman for Jell-O, Coca-Cola and Ford). But Bill was anxious to get back in the spotlight. Not just be that guy who was charming & funny in 30 second-long commercials. But prove that he was still a performer you could build a weekly television series around and/or star in a full length feature film.

Meanwhile over at Walt Disney Productions, Ron Miller — Walt Disney’s son-in-law and the then-newly appointed production chief and president of the Studio — was determined to start making movies that would expand Disney’s box office reach. Let would-be movie-goers know that the Mouse didn’t just make kid’s stuff anymore. That Walt Disney Productions was capable of creating motion pictures that would appeal to both adults and children.

And with this goal in mind, Ron optioned a short story that Mary Rodgers (i.e., the daughter of legendary composer Richard Rodgers. More importantly, the talented author who had scripted Disney’s last hit film, 1976’s “Freaky Friday “) had written about shady slumlord Max Devlin. Who — after he gets hit by a bus — finds himself descending into Hell.

Copyright 1981 Walt Disney Productions. All rights reserved

Once Max officially arrives in the underworld (which is supposed to mirror the corporate world of the 1980s), Devlin then meets up with the Devil’s right hand man, Barney Satin. Who offers Max a Get-Out-of-Hell-Free card if — within 60 days — he can convince three other people to sell their souls to Satan in exchange for his own.

Which — I know — doesn’t sound like typical Disney fare. But that was the one of the main reasons that Miller was initially intrigued by this project. If the Studio was going to produce this script as written, “The Devil and Max Devlin” would be the first Disney film ever to use profanity in a non-religious connotation. To be specific, Mary Rodgers’ screenplay (which was based on her original short story) contained would-be swear words like “Hell,” “damn” and an incomplete “son-of-a-bitch.”

Which — when you consider that Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea will soon be shaking their impressive assets on Disney-owned ABC when they perform “Booty” live on the American Music Awards this coming Sunday night — the fact that Mouse House executives would have ever considered it shocking that an actor would say “Hell,” “damn” or “son-of-a-bitch” is a Disney film is kind of laughable. But — again — let’s remember that this is the early 1980s that we’re talking about here.

Copyright 1981 Walt Disney Productions. All rights reserved

Anyway … Ron knows that — in order to make this comic remake of “Faust”  palatable for middle Americans — he’s going to find just the right actor playing Satan’s right hand man in this motion picture. Which is why Miller has Disney’s casting agents reach out to Mr. Jell-O Pudding Pop himself.

And as it turns out, Cosby had previously been approached to appear in various Disney films and TV shows. But Bill had always turned Mickey down because — as he explained in a  March 1981 interview with the Montreal Gazette — ” … I was reluctant to work with the Disney studio for a long time because I heard that they were ultra-conservative people and wouldn’t give minorities a fair shake.”

More to the point, after she read Rodger’s screenplay, Cosby’s wife Camille expressed some concerns about whether it would be wise for an African-American performer of Bill’s stature to be seen playing a minion of Satan. As Cosby recounted that conversation with his spouse in a June 1980 interview with Bob Thomas

“Are you aware in many pictures (in art), the presentation of Satan and all things bad is colored black?,” she asked.

“Yeah,” he replied.

“Then do you think it’s wise for you to play the devil?”

“Yes, because in all movies prior to this one, the devil has always been played by a white actor.”

Copyright 1981 Walt Disney Productions. All rights reserved

So with this in mind (i.e., that Disney was hiring him to play a role that previously had always gone to a white actor. More to the point, that this juicy villain’s role would demonstrate that Bill had a wider range than previously thought), Cosby agreed to play Barney, Satan’s first assistant opposite Elliott Gould‘s sad sack slumlord, Max Devlin. Though one has to wonder if Bill had second thoughts once production officially got underway on this Steven Hilliard Stern film. Given that the working conditions — especially when they shot all those scenes set in the underworld — were genuinely hellish.

To make Soundstage 3 look just like Hell, Disney designers first built a series of towering plaster stalagmites and then surrounded those with 20 butane furnaces, various smoke-generating devices, and 18 tons of dry ice. Once all of that fire-making & smoke-generating equipment was turned on, while the set looked great through the camera lens, the temperature inside of Soundstage 3 rose well past the 100 degree mark. Which meant that Stern could keep his actors on set for a short amount of time before they’d all have to head outside to cool down.

This was especially true for Cosby. Given that — when Bill was playing Barney in non-human form — the make-up that Bob Schiffer created for this role was extremely elaborate. We’re talking a heavy wig with ears and horns sewn inside. Not to mention the thick mauve color base coat and that water-soluble red make-up which Schiffer had specially ordered from Germany in order to tint Cosby’s naturally dark skin.

Bob Schiiffer puts the finishing touches on Bill Cosby’s devil make-up. Copyright 1981 Walt Disney Productions. All rights reserved

Mind you, all of this extra time, effort and expense might have ultimately been worth it if “The Devil and Max Devlin” had actually been a hit. But when this allegedly adult-friendly film opened in theaters in March of 1981, both kids and their parents turned up their noses at this particular Walt Disney Productions release.

“(‘The Devil and Max Devlin’) cost between $7.1 and $7.2 million to make,” Ron Miller told the New York Times in an August 1981 interview. ”We lost a considerable amount of money. We were lucky to make six and a half in the film rentals with a write-off of $4 million.”

So the career boost that Cosby had been counting on wouldn’t come from “The Devil and Max Devlin.” But — rather — the concert film that briefly ran in theaters two years later, 1983’s “Bill Cosby: Himself.”

Bill Cosby (center) and the cast of “The Cosby Show” (clockwise from top) Phylicia Rashad, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Lisa Bonet and Tempsett Bledsoe. Copyright 1984 National Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

It’s worth noting here that “Bill Cosby: Himself ” actually earned less at the box office during its initial theatrical release than “The Devil and Max Devlin” did. But that’s because 20th Century Fox had so little confidence in this concert film that — when “Bill Cosby: Himself” was originally released to theaters in May of 1983 — it had a very limited run and was only shown in a small number of houses.

It was only when “Bill Cosby: Himself” began airing regularly on HBO in late 1983 / early 1984 that this concert film began being seen by a mass audience. More importantly, it was this film that convinced veteran television producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner that they could build a winning sitcom around the comedy routines which Bill had spun out about family life in the Cosby household.

And as it turns out, “The Devil and Max Devlin” proved to be an important film in Walt Disney Company history. But not for the reasons that you might think.

Copyright 1981 Walt Disney Productions. All rights reserved

You see, following the March 1981 release of this Steven Hilliard Stern film, so many middle Americans wrote letters to Walt Disney Productions about how scandalized they’d been by “The Devil and Max Devlin,” how they were sure that Walt himself would have never made a movie which included such needless swearing that … Well, Ron Miller then began exploring the idea of setting up different distribution banners at Disney. Ones that could then be used to release films that were more mature in nature and had a darker tone than the ones that the Mouse Factory typically released. Which is where Touchstone Films (established in February of 1983) and Hollywood Pictures (established in February of 1989) came from.

And none of this would have happened if — back in 1980 — Ron Miller hadn’t thought to have Disney’s casting agents ask Bill Cosby if he wanted to go to Hell.

This story was originally posted on the Huffington Post’s Entertainment page on Thursday, November 20, 2014

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.


Jens Dahlmann of LongHorn Steakhouse has lots of great tips when it comes to grilling



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Sure, for some folks, the Fourth of July is all about fireworks. But for the 75% of all Americans who own a grill or a smoker, the Fourth is our Nation’s No. 1 holiday when it comes to grilling. Which is why 3 out of 4 of those folks will spend some time outside today working over a fire.

But here’s the thing: Though 14 million Americans can cook a steak with confidence because they actually grill something every week, the rest of us – because we use our grill or smoker so infrequently … Well, let’s just say that we have no chops when it comes to dealing with chops (pork, veal or otherwise).

So what’s a backyard chef supposed to in a situation like this when there’s so much at steak … er … stake? Turn to someone who really knows their way around a grill for advice. People like Jens Dahlmann, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Darden Restaurant’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.

Given that Jens’ father & grandfather were chefs, this is a guy who literally grew up in a kitchen. In his teens & twenties, Dahlmann worked in hotels & restaurants all over Switzerland & Germany. Once he was classically trained in the culinary arts, Jens then  jumped ship. Well, started working on cruise ships, I mean.

Anyway … While working on Cunard’s Sea Goddess, Dahlmann met Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque 2000. Sirio was so impressed with Jens’ skills in the kitchen that he offered him the opportunity to become sous-chef at this New York landmark. After four years of working in Manhattan, Dahlmann then headed south to become executive chef at Palm Beach’s prestigious Café L’Europe.

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

And once Jens began wowing foodies in Florida, it wasn’t all that long ’til the Mouse came a-calling. Mickey wanted Dahlmann to shake things up in the kitchen over at WDW’s Flying Fish Café. And he did such a good job with that Disney’s Boardwalk eatery the next thing Jens knew, he was then being asked to work his magic with the menu at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.

From there, Dahlmann had a relatively meteoric rise at the Mouse House. Once he became Epcot’s Food & Beverage general manager, it was only a matter of time before he wound up as the executive chef in charge of this theme park’s annual International Food & Wine Festival. Which – under Jens’ guidance – experienced some truly explosive growth.

“When I took on Food & Wine, that festival was only 35 days long and had gross revenues of just $5.5 million. When I left Disney in 2016, Food & Wine was now over 50 days long and that festival had gross revenues of $22 million,” Dahlmann admitted during a recent sit-down. “I honestly loved those 13 years I spent at Disney. When I was working there, I learned so much because I was really cooking for America.”

And it was exactly that sort of experience & expertise that Darden wanted to tap into when they lured Jens away from Mickey last year to become LongHorn Steakhouse’s new Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef. But today … Well, Dahlmann is offering tips to those of us who are thinking about cooking steak tips for the Fourth.

Photo by Jim Hill

“When you’re planning on grilling this holiday, if you’re looking for a successful result, the obvious place to start is with the quality of the meat you plan on cooking for your friends & family. If you want the best results here, don’t be cheap when you go shopping. Spend the money necessary for a fresh filet or a New York strip. Better yet a Ribeye, a nice thick one with good marbling. Because when you look at the marbling on a steak, that’s where all the flavor happens,” Jens explained. “That said, you always have to remember that — the higher you go with the quality of your meat — the less time you’re going to want that piece of meat to spend on the grill.”

And speaking of cooking … Before you even get started here, Jens suggests that you first take the time to check over all of your grilling equipment. Making sure that the grill itself is first scraped clean & then properly oiled before you then turn up the heat.

“If you’re working with a dirty grill, when you go to turn your meat, it may wind up sticking to the grill. Or maybe those spices that you’ve just so carefully coated your steak with will wind up sticking to the grill, rather than your meat,” Dahlmann continued. “Which is why it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes prior to firing up your grill properly cleaning & oiling it.”

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of heat … Again, before you officially get started grilling here, Jens says that it’s crucial to check your temperature gauges. Make sure that your char grill is set at 550 (so that it can then properly handle the thicker cuts of meat) and your flattop is set at 425 (so it can properly sear thinner pieces of meat).

Okay. Once you’ve bought the right cuts of quality meat, properly cleaned & oiled your grill, and then made sure that everything’s set at the right temperature (“If you can only stand to hold your hand directly over the grill for two or three seconds, that’s the right amount of heat,” Dahlmann said), it’s now time to season your steaks.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold here. You can’t be shy when it comes to seasoning your meat. You want to give it a nice coating. Largely because — if you’re using a char grill — a lot of that seasoning is just going to fall off anyway,” Jens stated. “It’s up to you to decide what sort of seasoning you want to use here. Even just some salt & pepper will enhance a steak’s flavor.”

Then – according to Dahlmann – comes the really tough part. Which is placing your meat on the grill and then fighting the urge to flip it too early or too often.

“The biggest mistake that a lot of amateur cooks make is that they flip the steak too many times. The real key to a well-cooked piece of meat is just let it be, “Jens insisted. “Of course, if you’re serving different cuts of meat at your Fourth of July feast, you always want to put your biggest thickest steak on the grill first. If you’re also cooking a New York Strip, you want to put that one on a few minutes later. But after that, just let the grill do its job and flip your meat a total of three or four times, once every three minutes or so.”

Of course, the last thing you want to do is overcook a quality piece of meat. Which is why Dahlmann suggests that – when it comes to grilling steaks – if you’re going to err, err on the side of undercooking.

“You can always put a piece of meat back on the grill if it’s slightly undercooked. When you over-cook something, all you can do then is start over with a brand-new piece of meat,” Jens said. “Just be sure that you’re using the correct cut of meat for the cooking result you’re aiming for. If someone wants a rare or medium rare steak, you should go with a thicker cut of steak. If one of your guests wants their steak cooked medium or well, it’s best to start with a thinner cut of meat.”

Photo by Jim Hill

As you can see, the folks at Longhorn take grilling steaks seriously. How seriously? Just last week at Darden Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, seven of these brand’s top grill masters (who – after weeks of regional competitions – had been culled from the 491 restaurants that make up this chain) competed for a $10,000 prize in the Company’s second annual Steak Master Series. And Dahlmann was one of the people who stood in Darden’s test kitchens, watching like a hawk as each of the contestants struggled to prepare six different dishes in just 20 minutes according to Longhorn Steakhouse’s exacting standards.

“I love that Darden does this. Recognizing the best of the best who work this restaurant,” Jens concluded. “We have a lot of people here who are incredibly knowledgeable & passionate when it comes to grilling.”

Speaking of which … If today’s story doesn’t include the exact piece of info that you need to properly grill that T-bone, just whip out your iPhone & text GRILL to 55702. Or – better yet – visit prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers is a sincere if somewhat surreal way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont



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Some people travel halfway ‘around the planet so that they can then experience the excitement of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. If you’re more of a Slow Living enthusiast (as I am), then perhaps you should amble to Brattleboro, VT. Where – over the first weekend in June – you can then join a herd of cow enthusiasts at the annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Now in its 16th year, this three-day long event typically gets underway on Friday night in June with a combination block party / gallery walk. But then – come Saturday morning – Main Street in Brattleboro is lined with thousands of bovine fans.

Photo by Jim Hill

They’ve staked out primo viewing spots and set up camp chairs hours ahead of time. Just so these folks can then have a front row seat as this year’s crop of calves (which all come from local farms & 4-H clubs) are paraded through the streets.

Photo by Jim Hill

Viewed from curbside, Strolling of the Heifers is kind of this weird melding of a sincere small town celebration and Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade. Meaning that – for every entry that actually acknowledged this year’s theme (i.e. “Dance to the Moosic”) — …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something completely random, like this parade’s synchronized shopping cart unit.

Photo by Jim Hill

And for every piece of authentic Americana (EX: That collection of antique John Deere tractors that came chugging through the city) …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something silly. Like – say – a woman dressed as a Holstein pushing a baby stroller through the streets. And riding in that stroller was a pig dressed in a tutu.

Photo by Jim Hill

And given that this event was being staged in the Green Mountain State & all … Well, does it really surprise you to learn that — among the groups that marched in this year’s Strolling of the Heifers – was a group of eco-friendly folks who, with their  chants of “We’re Number One !,” tried to persuade people along the parade route not to flush the toilet after they pee. Because – as it turns out – urine can be turned into fertilizer.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of fertilizer … At the tail end of the parade, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who were dealing with what came out of the tail end of all those cows.

Photo by Jim Hill

This year’s Strolling of the Heifers concluded at the Brattleboro town common. Where event attendees could then get a closer look at some of the featured units in this year’s parade…

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

But as for the 90+ calves who took part in the 2017 edition of Strolling of the Heifers, once they reached the town common, it was now time for a nosh or a nap.

Photo by Jim Hill

Elsewhere on the common, keeping with this year’s “Dance to the Moosic” theme, various musical groups performed in & around the gazebo throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Jim Hill

While just across the way – keeping with Brattleboro’s tradition of showcasing the various artisans who live & work in the local community – some pretty funky pieces were on display at the Slow Living Exposition.

Photo by Jim Hill

All in all, attending Strolling of the Heifers is a somewhat surreal but still very pleasant way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont. And that’s no bull.

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, that could be a bull. To be honest, what with the wig & all, it’s kind of hard to tell. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sunday, June 4, 2017

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Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick’s Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage



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Let’s at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon – the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food – loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th.

“I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That’s terrific,” Kevin said.

But then when it comes to what many Americans eat & drink on St. Paddy’s Day (i.e., a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Which is then washed down with a mug of green beer) … Well, that’s where Dundon has to draw the line.

Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon displays a traditional Irish loin of bacon with Colcannon potatoes and a Dunbrody Kiss chocolate dessert. Photo by Tom Burton. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Green beer? No real Irishman would be caught dead drinking that stuff,” Kevin insists. “And as for eating corned beef & cabbage … That’s not actually authentic Irish fare either. Bacon and cabbage? Sure. But corned beef & cabbage was something that the Irish only began eating after they’d come to the States to escape the Famine. And even then these Irish-Americans only began serving corned beef & cabbage to their friends & family because they had to make do with the ingredients that were available to them at that time.”

And thus begins the strange tale of how corned beef & cabbage came to be associated with the North American celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Because – according to Dundon – beef just wasn’t all that big a part of the Irish diet back in the 19th century.

To explain: Back in the Old Country, cattle – while they were obviously highly prized for the milk & cheese that they produced – were also beasts of burden. Meaning that they were often used for ploughing the fields or for hauling heavy loads. Which is why – back then — these animals were rarely slaughtered when they were still young & healthy. If anything, land owners liked to put a herd of cattle on display out in one of their pastures because that was then a sign to their neighbors that this farm was prosperous.

“Whereas pork … Well, everybody raised pigs back then. Which is why pork was a staple of the Irish diet rather than beef,” Dundon continued.

So if that’s what people actually ate back in the Old Country, how then did corned beef & cabbage come to be so strongly associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the States.? That largely had to do with where the Irish wound up living after they arrived in the New World.

“When the Irish first arrived in America following the Great Famine, a lot of them wound up living in the inner city right alongside the Germans & the Jews, who were also recent immigrants to the States. And while that farm-fresh pork that the Irish loved wasn’t readily available, there was brisket. Which the Irish could then cure by first covering this piece of meat with corn kernel-sized pieces of rock salt – that’s how it came to be called corned beef. Because of the sizes of the pieces of rock salt that were used in the curing process – and then placing all that in a pot of water with other spices to soak for a few days.”

And as for the cabbage portion of corned beef & cabbage … Well, according to Kevin, in addition to buying their meat from the kosher delis in their neighborhood, the Irish would also frequent the stores that the German community shopped in. Where – thanks to their love of sauerkraut (i.e., pickled cabbage) – there was always a ready supply of cabbage to be had.

“So when you get right down to it, it was the American melting pot that led to corned beef & cabbage being found in the Irish-American cooking pot,” Dundon continued. “Since they couldn’t find or didn’t have easy access to the exact same ingredients that they had back in Ireland, Irish-Americans made do with what they could find in the immediate vicinity. And what they made was admittedly tasty. But it’s not actually authentic Irish fare.”

Mind you, what Kevin serves at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs (which – FYI – Orlando Magazine voted as the area’s best restaurant back in 2014) is nothing if not authentic. Dundon and his team at this acclaimed gastropub pride themselves on making traditional Irish fare and then contemporized it.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Take – for example – what we serve here instead of corned beef & cabbage. Again, because it was pork – rather than beef – that was the true staple of the Irish diet back then, what we offer instead is a loin of bacon that has been glazed with Irish Mist. That then comes with colcannon potatoes. Which is this traditional Irish dish that’s made up of mashed potato that have had some cabbage & bacon mixed through it,” Kevin enthused. “This heavenly ham – that’s what we actually call this traditional Irish dish at Raglan Road, Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – also includes some savory cabbage with a parsley cream sauce as well as a raisin cider jus. It’s simple food. But because of the basic ingredients – and that’s the real secret of Irish cuisine. That our ingredients are so strong – the flavors just pop off the plate.”

Which brings us to the real challenge that Dundon and the Raglan Road team face every day. Making sure that they actually have all of the ingredients necessary to make this traditional-yet-contemporized Irish fare to those folks who frequent this Walt Disney World favorite.

“Take – for example – the fish we serve here. We only used cold water fish. Salmon, mussels and haddock that have been hauled out of the Atlantic, the ocean that America and Ireland share,” Kevin stated. “Not that there’s anything wrong with warm water fish. It’s just that … Well, it doesn’t have the same structure. It’s a softer fish, which doesn’t really fit the parameters of Irish cuisine. And if you’re going to serve authentic food, you have to be this dedicated when it comes to sourcing your ingredients.

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

And if you’re thinking of perhaps trying to serve an authentic Irish meal this year, rather than once again serving corned beef & cabbage at your Saint Patrick’s Day Feast … Well, back in September of last year, Mitchell Beazley published “The Raglan Road Cookbook: Inside America’s Favorite Irish Pub.” This 296-page hardcover not only includes the recipe for Kevin’s Heavenly Ham but also it tells the tale of how this now-world-renown restaurant wound up being built in Orlando.

On the other hand, if you happen to have to the luck of the Irish and are actually down at The Walt Disney World Resort right now, it’s worth noting that Raglan Road is right in the middle of its Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This four day-long event – which includes Irish bands and professional dancers – stretches through Sunday night. And in addition to all that authentic Irish fare that Dundon and his team are cooking up, you also sample the fine selection of beers & cocktails that this establishment’s four distinct antique bars (each of which are more than 130 years old and were imported directly from Ireland) will be serving. Just – As ucht Dé (That’s “For God’s Sake” in Gaelic) – don’t make the mistake of asking the bartender there for a mug of green beer.

“Why would anyone willingly drink something like that?,” Dundon laughed. “I mean, just imagine what their washroom will look like the morning after.”

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 17, 2017

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