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Toad you so!

As rumors continue to circulate about the pending closure of WDW’s “Carousel of Progress” attraction, Jim Hill asks: Would it kill the Mouse to at least give this tired old Tomorrowland attraction a half decent send-off?

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Tired of continually getting hammered by the company’s critics, Disney CEO Michael Eisner went on the offensive earlier this month.

A PR offensive, that is.

With the hope that he might be able to get some positive buzz going about his beleaguered corporation, Uncle Michael has reportedly been speaking with influential business analysts. His message for Disney stockholders? “I understand your concerns. I hear what you’re saying. And I and the rest of the senior staff at the Walt Disney Company are doing everything we can to turn this unfortunate situation around.”

According to several unnamed sources who’ve heard Eisner’s spiel, Michael supposedly starts out by talking up Disney’s recent accomplishments: The 21 million viewers who tuned in to ABC last Tuesday night to catch the “sneak preview” of John Ritter’s new sitcom, “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.” The 5 million units of “Monsters, Inc.” that were sold in a single day last week – the new one-day-sales record for the home video & DVD industry.

Uncle Michael then allegedly goes on to identify some of the Mouse House’s trouble spots, but – in each case – immediately identified what Disney is doing to address these problems.

The business world’s concerns about Disney’s far-too-cozy board of directors? Eisner reportedly outlined the tough new governance rules that he and the Board are about to adopt. By cutting back on the number of actual voting members as well as upping their independence, Uncle Michael hopes that Disney will soon have one of the best Board of Directors in Corporate America.

As for ABC’s rating woes, Eisner supposedly insists that a “process is in place” to turn the troubled network around. (To his credit, Uncle Michael has reportedly told business analysts that they shouldn’t expect all of ABC’s programming ills to be cured overnight. That it may take a number of months before the currently fourth-place network to claw its way out of the Nielsen cellar.)

And that alleged 10% fall-off in advance bookings for the Walt Disney World resort (In comparison to September 2001’s advance bookings)? Eisner reportedly admitted that things were softer than he would have liked down at Lake Buena Vista. But Uncle Michael then attributed this fall-off in advance bookings at Disney World to a number of outside factors. I.E. Tourists – in the wake of the September 11th attacks – still being afraid to fly. The world’s continuing economic woes. Not to mention continuing international unease as a result of the U.S. threatening to go to war with Iraq. All of which have a continuing dampening effect on people’s travel plans.

Eisner then reportedly said that recent WDW guest exit polls revealed that most people still believe that visiting Walt Disney World is a great vacation value. And – once this cloud of uncertainty lifts – tourists will undoubtedly come flocking back to Orlando. Particularly once Epcot’s “Mission: Space” attraction gets up and running.

Those who’ve actually heard from Eisner say that Uncle Michael gave a masterful performance. That Eisner eloquently puts across the message that “Things aren’t as bad as our critics would like you to think they are. Disney’s stock price may be depressed right now, but we’re poised for a comeback.” In short, Disney’s CEO supposedly told these business analysts: “I hear what you’re saying. I understand your concerns. Trust me.”

Well, forgive me if I’m a wee bit skeptical here. But – as nice as it is to hear that Eisner is reportedly trying to repair his relationship with Disney’s stockholders – I can’t help but offer up a somewhat awkward question. As in: Is Michael Eisner REALLY listening to what shareholders (who have been among his most vocal critics lately) have to say about what they think has gone wrong with the Walt Disney Company? Or is Uncle Mikey just saying what he hopes we want to hear?

I mean, historically, the higher ups at Walt Disney Company has had a bit of a hearing problem. Particularly when it comes to criticism. Even criticism that comes from INSIDE the organization. You wanna work at a place “Where seldom is heard a discouraging word”? Never mind about a “Home on the Range.” Get yourself a job in the executive suite at the Team Disney building in Burbank.

Take – for example – ABC’s over-exposure of its former ratings powerhouse, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” ABC’s own programming department reportedly warned Eisner & Co. that even the most sedentary of couch potatoes wasn’t going to sit still for four nights of Regis Philbin. Yet Disney’s executives – anxious to cash in on this incredibly-inexpensive-to-produce game show (More importantly, to cut back on the cost of developing new programming for ABC) – ran “Millionaire” right into the ground. A show that could have potentially run for years yet to come got burned out, its audience totally turned off, in just over two seasons.

Never mind that TV critics – in addition to ABC staffers – decried this programming decision as soon as ABC originally announced it back in May 2000. Disney executives downplayed the controversy, insisting that they knew what they were doing.

Those uninformed nay sayers who were criticizing the Mouse’s programming decision? They couldn’t see the bigger picture. The tens of millions of dollars that ABC saved at the start of the 2000 – 2001 season by making more episodes of “Millionaire” rather than ordering up new sitcoms or dramas that could potentially have ridden Regis’ coat tails to ratings success.

But those ABC senior programming execs (And – more importantly – the Disney Company executives who hired them) didn’t (or is it “wouldn’t”?) listen to their critics. Which is why they all seemed so stunned when “Millionaire”‘s ratings suddenly tanked in early 2001 … And why – even to this day – that network is still struggling to fill huge gaps in its schedule. All because Disney execs couldn’t bring themselves to heed their critics. The ones inside the company as well as outside.

But – hey – it’s not like the Walt Disney Company’s hearing problem is a recent occurrence. Senior Imagineers will tell you (off the record, of course) that they repeatedly tried to make the folks in the Team Disney building (Both the Anaheim as well as the Burbank branch) aware of their concerns about “Disney’s California Adventure.” But Mouse House execs just refused to listen to them.

“I mean, think about it, Jim,” said one unnamed WDI guy to me just the other day. “Eisner & Co. wanted to change Anaheim into Orlando. A destination resort where people could come and stay & spend money for three or four days at a time.”

“Which is all well & good. Except that Anaheim isn’t Orlando. The out-of-state versus locals mix down there is roughly 85% out-of-state visitors, 15 % Florida residents. Out here, the locals to out-of-state visitors ratio is more along the lines of 65% Southern California residents, 34% out-of-state tourists.”

“You see what I’m saying here, Jim? The Walt Disney Company relies on regular visits from Southern California residents in order to keep attendance levels high at the Disneyland Resort. So what does Disney do when it tries to turn Anaheim into a destination resort? It builds a California-themed theme park – a place with limited appeal to SoCal residents. DCA – at least in its original incarnation – was doomed, Jim. Virtually from the moment that Disneyland opened its preview center.”

“And we tried to warn them, Jim. We argued ’til we were blue in the face. But the suits wouldn’t listen to us. They just seemed to think that giving Southern Californians the opportunity to eat Wolfgang Puck’s pizza while looking out at the lights of Paradise Pier was going to be enough to put that place over the top. That the locals would have no choice but to love DCA.”

Well, we all know how THAT decision turned out, don’t we? (To be fair, it should be noted here that the Walt Disney Company does appear to have learned from the mistakes it initially made with DCA. That the corporation did move fairly quickly to try and turn this troubled theme park around. And that – with next month’s official opening of “Flik’s Fun Fair” – “Disney’s California Adventure” is taking a big step toward ridding itself of its kid unfriendly reputation.)

It should also be noted here that – according to some of the Walt Disney Company old timers that I’ve spoken with – that the Eisner regime has historically had a bit of a hearing problem. That almost from the moment that “Team Disney” came to power back in September 1984, that these “Hollywood hotshots” didn’t want to listen to what their more experienced, Mouse House elders had to say.

To my knowledge, the most extreme example of younger Disney executives ignoring the advice of the company’s senior staffers is associated with the Disneyland Paris Resort. Back in the early 1990s, a friend of mine – the editor of an unnamed Disney history magazine – was interviewing Admiral Joe Fowler, the guy who actually oversaw construction of the Walt Disney World resort back in the 1960s. The interview seemed to be going great until my pal brought up the subject of the then-floundering Euro Disney resort.

Admiral Joe turned crimson, then told what’s-his-name to turn off his tape recorder. Fowler then leaded forward and said “I could have told those dumb bastards that building a Disney theme park just outside of Paris was a bad idea. Do they think that we pulled the location for Walt Disney World out of our ass? No, sir. We traversed the globe looking for the exact perfect spot to build another Disneyland. Including Marne la Vallee.”

“I could have told those idiots that it gets too cold there, that the wind’s just too fierce there for an outdoor entertainment venue. But those arrogant SOBs … They probably didn’t even looked at all the research that we did back in the early 1960s. I’m sure that all that stuff is still in a filing cabinet somewhere in Glendale. But those new guys … They just think that they know it all.”

“Building all those hotels, right outside of Paris. What a bunch of idiots!”

Think of the millions that the Walt Disney Company would have saved (not to mention all the aggravation that they could have avoided) if they had just bothered to listen to Admiral Joe Fowler. If someone had just gone down into the basement at WDI and pulled out the appropriate file.

You see I’m saying here, Mr. Eisner? A TV show could have been saved. A theme park as well as an entire resort could have avoided massive problems. All if Disney’s executives had been willing to listen – REALLY listen – to its critics. And not just the very vocal people that you’ll find outside of your corporation. But the critics that you have INSIDE the Walt Disney Company.

So Mr. Eisner … If you really ARE trying to turn over a new leaf here, trying to prove to the world that you’ve become that rarest-of-rare things – a CEO who actually listens … NOW might be a good time to strap on an extra big pair of mouse ears. So that you can really hear what people outside of the corridors of power at the Team Disney Burbank building are actually saying.

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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