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Toon Tuesday : How Pixar fixed “Finding Nemo”

Been hearing disappointing things about those “WALL*E” test screenings? Jim Hill reminds us what happened when Michael Eisner predicted that Andrew Stanton’s last film would flop

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It’s the story that won’t go away. How back in 2001, Michael Eisner reportedly told Disney’s board of directors that he’d be postponing any further contract talks with Pixar Animation Studios.


“And why would the then-Chairman & CEO of the Walt Disney Company do that?,” you ask. Because Eisner had just come back from a work-in-progress screening of “Finding Nemo.” And he supposedly told the board that this Andrew Stanton movie was the weakest thing that Pixar had produced to date. Which is why Michael wanted to wait ’til this fish film flopped before he then re-opened negotiations with that Emeryville-based animation studio.


You see, Eisner believed that it would be far easier for Disney’s attorneys to get Steve Jobs to agree to much more favorable terms if Pixar were coming off of its first “reality check.” Which is why he wanted to put off any talk of an extension of their co-production deal for a year or so.


But then when “Finding Nemo” opened in theaters nationwide on May 30, 2003, it became this huge critical & financial success. For a time, that Academy Award-winning film was even the top grossing animated feature of all time … At least until “Shrek 2” came along and knocked off that clownfish’s crown.



 Copyright 2002 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved


And as for Eisner … Many people (Roy Disney included) used Michael’s “Finding Nemo” box office prediction as an indication of how truly out-of-touch Disney’s Big Cheese had become. Which helped speed Eisner’s fall from power.


But here’s the thing: Michael Eisner wasn’t actually wrong about “Finding Nemo.” At least not when it comes to the shape that this Pixar production was in back in the Fall of 2001.


Back then, this Andrew Stanton film was in awful shape. It was saddled with at least one too many plotlines, one lead character that had a rather unappealing secret as well as another character who was desperately in need of a new voice.


As for “Nemo” ‘s extraneous plotline … Early on, Stanton wanted to keep moviegoers in the dark for long as possible about why Marlin was so over-protective, why Nemo had this damaged fin. Which is why he initially tried to handle this father & son’s tragic backstory through a series of flashbacks.


As Andrew explained on the visual commentary track of the “Finding Nemo” DVD:



Andrew Stanton with the Oscar that “Finding Nemo” won
for Best Animated Feature. Copyright 2004 Academy
of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and ABC, Inc.
All Rights Reserved



Earlier (on), we had flashbacks. And we were going to dole them out, this whole backstory. We were just going to tell a little bit at a time … And you’d get these little windows of the past … And it was all leading up to this tragic event with the barracuda.


So why did Stanton eventually decide to discard this rather stylistic way of revealing of how exactly Coral died, how all of Nemo’s brothers & sisters got eaten?



Ultimately what made it fall apart was there was nothing big to reveal at the end. There was no “Ah Ha!” or surprise slant to it … By the time you were getting near the end of the movie, you kind of suspected what the tragedy was. (Which is why we decided to) remove the flashbacks and just (reveal the barracuda attack) right up front. Which is what almost every Film 101 book tells you to do.


Mind you, it took a couple of passes before Stanton finally came up with an opening for “Finding Nemo” that hit all of the right emotional beats. One that made Coral being eaten by the barracuda, the destruction of most of the eggs in the nest ” … powerful and yet not overly brutal.” After all, Andrew’s initial intent was to have the audience bond as quickly as possible with Marlin & Nemo.


Which is why — for a time anyway — “Finding Nemo” opened with the Father clownfish telling his son a bedtime story. And as Coral’s death, that was explained away in a single poignant exchange between Marlin & Nemo.



Copyright 2003 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved



NEMO : And then the ocean took Mommy away?


MARLIN : (Rueful) That’s right. It did.


But in the end, the quickest way to get moviegoers to care about the two clownfish was to actually show the tragedy that bonded these characters together. Which is why “Finding Nemo” eventually opened with that barracuda attack on Marlin & Coral’s anemone.


FYI:  That opening sequence was not in the work-in-progress film that Michael Eisner saw back in 2001. He saw a version of “Finding Nemo” which opened with Nemo’s first day of school. Where Marlin was already twitchy and over-protective, but you didn’t initially understand why the Father clownfish constantly hovered over his son. Which made that character rather difficult to like.


And Marlin wasn’t the only “Finding Nemo” character that audiences initially had trouble warming up to. Early on, Gill (i.e. The leader of the Tank Gang) was also a very unlikable character.


 
Copyright 2003 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved


But that was only because Stanton wanted to reveal that this angelfish (Which the young clownfish had begun looking up to as a possible replacement for his father) was no angel. In a now-deleted scene from “Finding Nemo,” Nemo was supposed to discover that Gill’s colorful backstory (i.e. That Gill grew up in Bad Luck Bay and had four brothers — Marco, Polo, Lester & Linus — & one sister — Lulu) had actually been cribbed from a children’s storybook that P. Sherman made available to patients waiting in his lobby.



Copyright 2003 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved



Copyright 2003 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved


And while making Gill a liar was an interesting story choice for the leader of the Tank Gang, it also confused “Finding Nemo” ‘s test audiences. They couldn’t decide whether they should still root for this angelfish’s escape plan. More importantly, they wondered if they could really trust Gill to keep Nemo safe during his time in the dentist’s office.


Realizing that they unintentionally complicated the middle portion of their movie, Stanton and his story team eventually dropped the whole Gill-stole-his-backstory-from-a-children’s-book idea and just made this angelfish a determined loner who would do whatever he had to in order to escape from P. Sherman’s seawater aquarium. Which then brought an emotional clarity to Act 2 of “Finding Nemo.”


But — again — that’s not what Michael Eisner saw. He saw a version of “Finding Nemo” where Gill was this charismatic but delusional character. Where Nemo didn’t know who to trust while he was stuck in that aquarium, waiting for his father to come rescue him.


Speaking of Marlin … One of the other reasons that Disney’s then-Chairman & CEO wasn’t all that enthusiastic about “Finding Nemo” was the actor that Andrew initially hired to provide the voice of the Father clownfish. William H. Macy‘s vocal performance in this role just lacked … something. Though this award-winning performer tried his damnest, he just couldn’t make Marlin a character that you cared about. Which is why Stanton was eventually forced to recast this role.


And as for the actor that Andrew eventually did hire to play the Father clownfish, the “Finding Nemo” director had this to say about that performer:



Albert Brooks. He absolutely saved this picture. He is exactly what I needed this father character to be. You needed someone who was neurotic, over-protective but still appealing throughout. And that is one of Albert’s gifts. That he can sort of play both. Usually it’s such an off-putting thing. But he just makes it so winning.



 (L to R) Ellen Degeneres, Alexander Gould and Albert Brooks at
the premiere of “Finding Nemo.”
Photo by Dan Steinberg.
Copyright 2003 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved


But — again — the version of “Finding Nemo” that Michael Eisner saw didn’t have Albert Brooks performing the voice of Marlin. But rather William H. Macy. Who’s a very talented man but not the right guy if you’re looking for the proper performer to voice an over-protective clownfish.


You getting where I’m going yet? That the version of “Finding Nemo” that Michael Eisner saw back in 2001 was pretty bad. Which is why the then-Chairman & CEO of the Walt Disney Company was right to feel the way that he did. Michael genuinely believed that he was looking at Pixar’s first flop. Which is why Eisner felt justified in telling Disney’s board of directors what he told them.


But Pixar Animation Studios … They had the time (More importantly, the talent in-house) to make all of the changes necessary to turn “Finding Nemo” into a hit. Which is why that Andrew Stanton film was such a huge success when it finally rolled into theaters in May of 2003.


“So why bring this up now?,” you query … Well, “WALL-E” has had several test screenings over the past six months. And while audiences have supposedly fallen in love with the movie’s title character, they have also reportedly raised some concerns about this new Andrew Stanton film. Which allegedly has been described ” … as the darkest motion picture that Pixar has ever produced.”



 Copyright 2008 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved


Among the issues that these test audiences have supposedly cited are “WALL-E” ‘s depressing settings (i.e. The first act of this film is set on Earth 700 years from now, where — thanks to humanity’s wasteful ways — our planet is now basically one big trash heap floating in space) as well as the picture’s depiction of people (i.e. In the future, mankind has grown so slothful that everyone weighs 500 pounds and has lost the ability to walk on their own. Which is why we all make use of these devices that look like floating barcaloungers).


So should we be at all concerned about the somewhat negative comments that have been coming out of these early “WALL-E” test screenings? Is this new Andrew Stanton film — which obviously pokes fun at today’s consumeristic society — really going to have a tough time finding an audience during summer blockbuster season?


I say … That we should probably pay attention to the hard lesson that Michael Eisner learned back in 2001. Which is that it’s really not wise to predict how a new Pixar film will do based on the work-in-progress version of that particular picture. Which is why you may want to discount any rumors that you may have heard about disappointing “WALL*E” test screenings.


Don’t worry. They’ve got time. They can fix it.


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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