Connect with us

General

“To Infinity and Beyond!” is an entertaining look back at Pixar’s first two decades

Jim Hill reviews Karen Paik’s inspired (more importantly, inspiring) new history of Pixar Animation Studios. Which offers a lot of insight about how John Lasseter became the Big Kahuna of the CG world

Published

on

There’s this genuinely eerie passage in Karen Paik’s “To Infinity and Beyond! The Story of Pixar Animation Studios” (Chronicle Books, November 2007), which talks about how a single book basically changed the course of John Lasseter’s life.



In ninth grade, Lasseter was searching the art section of the school library for a book to write a report on when he came across a battered old copy of “The Art of Animation,” Bob Thomas’s history of the Disney Studios.



 Copyright 1958 Simon & Shuster / Walt Disney Productions


“There’s a handful of little moments in my life that I could look back to and say were key to me following the path that I’ve ended up on,” said Lasseter. “Finding that book was one of them. I read it cover to cover, and it dawned on me: People make cartoons for a living. They actually get paid to make cartoons! Right then, right there, I knew that was what I wanted to do.”


“Why would you think that that passage was eerie?,” you ask. Well, because I have this uneasy feeling that — in the years ahead — would-be animators are going to come across copies of “To Infinity and Beyond!” and have the exact same epiphany that Lasseter did. As they page through this beautiful coffee table book, aspiring artists will be startled to discover that some people actually earn a living from making cartoons. And that — if they work hard — these future toonsmiths could someday land a job just like John has.



Copyright 2007 Disney / Pixar & Chronicle Books


Of course, as Paik details in this handsome 320-page hardcover (Which — FYI — is the companion volume for Leslie Iwerks’ great new documentary, “The Pixar Story”), Lasseter may have an advantage over all of those other would-be animators back in the 1970s. In that John’s mom continually encouraged her son to draw. Even going so far as to bring along pads of paper whenever she took the family to church. So that young Lasseter — rather than just sitting there in the pew, being bored out of his gourd — could then scribble away during the sermon.


And clearly — as Karen points out — that extra pencil time paid off. For John won his very first award (i.e. a $15 grand prize for drawing the Headless Horseman from Disney’s “The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad“) at the tender age of 5.



 John in the back of the Lasseter family station wagon with his brother,
sister and his beloved Casper the Friendly Ghost doll.
Copyright 2007 Chronicle Books


“To Infinity and Beyond!” does a great job of tracking Lasseter’s career in animation. Which basically started when he was accepted at the California Institute of the Arts and wound up being a member of CalArts’s very first character animation class.


 
The first class of character animation students at CalArts. Copyright 2007 Chronicle Books


Though it may be hard to recognize them under all that long hair and bad skin, there’s a pretty formidable group of animators assembled in the above photo. You’ll find John Lasseter at the top, with a pencil in teeth. “Ratatouille” director Brad Bird is seated in the middle row with his right elbow resting on his knee, while “The Little Mermaid” & “Aladdin” co-director John Musker is seated in front on the right.


And — sure — Lasseter is smiling in the above photo. But he wasn’t grinning once John graduated and actually got hired by Disney. Once he arrived in Burbank, this passionate young filmmaker began butting heads with Walt Disney Feature Animation’s calcified middle management. Which — as Ms. Paik recounts from her interviews with Mr. Lasseter — was extremely resistant to anything that might upset the status quo at the studio.



One conversation in particular remained vivid in Lasseter’s memory over thirty years later. “This guy said to me, ‘So, you want to be creatively in charge here? I’ll tell you how to be in charge. You sit down and do in-betweens for twenty years, then you can be in charge.’ I remember walking away and deciding right then that if I was ever creatively in charge of anything, I’d never say to a young artist what that guy had just said to me. In that one exchange he killed all the enthusiasm I had to help make the project better.”



John Lasseter hard at work on Disney’s “The Fox and the Hound.”
Copyright 2007 Chronicle Books


So you can just imagine how the old guard at Disney Feature Animation reacted when John began talking up computer animation as the wave of the future. With the blessing of Tom Wilhite, the then-head of Motion Pictures and TV production for the Walt Disney Studios, Lasseter began development of a few CG-based projects. One was a hybrid featurette (Which was to have combined hand drawn & computer animation to bring to life Maurice Sendak‘s much beloved picture book, “Where the Wild Things Are“) while the other was a full-blown CG feature based on Thomas M. Disch’s “The Brave Little Toaster.”


But as Karen explains, it was John’s obvious enthusiasm for “Toaster” film that wound up burning a lot of bridges for this young animator at Disney.



 John Lasseter’s own designs for the characters to be featured in
Disney’s never-produced version of “The Brave Little Toaster.”
Copyright 1981 Walt Disney Productions / 2007 Chronicle Books



Shortly after Lasseter returned (to the studio), he was notified that “The Brave Little Toaster” had to be pitched to Ron Miller, the head of (Disney Studios), and Ed Hansen, the manager of the animation department, immediately. This made Lasseter uneasy — he believed in the project, but he also perceived some coolness in Hansen’s manner after Wilhite had given Lasseter’s experiments the go-ahead. When Miller walked into the pitch looking grim, Hansen by his side, Lasseter knew it was going to be a tough sell. After the pitch, Miller stood up and asked how much the project would cost. When Lasseter said it would cost no more than a regular film, Miller replied that there was no point in using computer animation unless it would make things “faster or cheaper.” With that, he walked out of the room. At first, Lasseter was too perplexed by what had happened for his disappointment to fully register. But there was more to come.


“About five minutes later,” Lasseter said. “I got a call from Ed Hansen. I went down to his office, and he said, ‘Well, John, your project is now complete, so your employment with the Disney Studios is now terminated.’ “


“I couldn’t believe it. I had just been fired.”


Of course, the upside of this story is — if Ed Hansen hadn’t gone out of his way to try & torpedo young John Lasseter’s career at Disney Feature Animation — he’d have never been in a position to accept Ed Catmull‘s offer. Which was to come up to Marin and help the guys at Lucasfilm’s computer division with a little project that they were working on. Which turned out to be “The Adventures of Andre & Wally B.” The SIGGRAPH short that — through its skillful mix of character comedy & cutting-edge technology — provided the template for every Pixar project that followed.


That’s what (me personally) I think that Karen Paik does best with “To Infinity and Beyond! The Story of Pixar Animation Studios.” She makes you keenly aware of all the baby steps that eventually led up to those huge successes like “Toy Story” and “Monsters, Inc.”


So is “To Infinity and Beyond!” a perfect book? Well … I could have done without Paik glossing over the fact that — during all those years when Pixar was genuinely struggling to break through — Steve Jobs was continually shopping the company around. Looking for someone — anyone ! — to take this money pit of an animation studio off his hands.



 (L to R) Steve Jobs, Jane Eisner and John Lasseter all enjoy a cocktail
in Pixar’s most exclusive club, the Love Lounge.
Copyright 2007 Chronicle Books


But on the other hand, I loved how Karen takes you into places where Pixar visitors seldom get to go, like that animation studio’s super-secret “Love Lounge.” Or when she reveals fun little factoids like how “Toy Story” wasn’t actually supposed to be Pixar’s first full-length feature. How — if John Lasseter had had his druthers (More importantly, if author Roald Dahl had just agreed to sell this animation studio the movie rights to one of his more popular books back in 1989) — “James and the Giant Peach” would have been Pixar’s first big production.


Plus Paik tries to give her readers some sense of the real human costs involved in the production of their favorite CG films. Take — for example — the …



… nine months of almost nonstop work (on “Toy Story 2“) with a keyboard and mouse, (which resulted in) nearly one in three employees (at Pixar developing) a repetitive-stress injury. (With) one person (being) permanently disabled and (forced) to leave the (CG) field altogether.



 Bob Iger stands in front of the staff of Pixar Animation
Studio staff in January of 2006, as the details of
the Disney acquisition deal are announced.
Copyright 2006 Disney / Pixar & Chronicle Books


As for this book’s other flaws … Yeah, it’s somewhat frustrating that — after quickly touching on the Disney acquisition and “Cars” — “To Infinity and Beyond!” basically runs out of gas. With “Ratatouille” only receiving a single fleeting reference in this entire coffee table book. (Though — to be fair — if you’d like to learn more about this critically acclaimed Brad Bird film, you should probably pick up Karen Paik’s other Chronicle Book for 2007. Which is “The Art of Ratatouille.”)


But — that said — there’s still an awful lot of history and inspiration to be found in “To Infinity and Beyond! The Story of Pixar Animation Studios.” So if you’re looking for something extra special for that aspiring animator on your holiday shopping list, then you might want to consider giving this new Chronicle Books publication a look-see.




And speaking of the holidays … Tis the season, folks. And if you’d like to show your appreciation for all the great stories that you regularly read here on this website, then why not start out your next Amazon shopping spree by clicking on the banner above? That way, JHM gets a tiny chunk of what you spend.


Happy Holidays!

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

General

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

Published

on

Listen to the Article

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

Continue Reading

General

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

Published

on

Listen to the Article

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

Continue Reading

General

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

Published

on

Listen to the Article

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

Continue Reading

Trending