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Tune Thursday: Chatting with Chad Beguelin about “Disney’s Aladdin: The New Stage Musical”



Chad Beguelin remembers exactly when he decided to become a writer. It was when this Tony-nominated bookwriter & lyricist was 14. And Chad and his Dad had gone to NYC to see a show. And the show that they caught was Howard Ashman & Alan Menken's brilliant musicalization of Roger Corman's schlocky horror comedy, "The Little Shop of Horrors."

Ellen Greene & Audrey II in the original off-Broadway production of "Little
Shop of Horrors"

Now jump ahead a few decades. Thanks to the smart story work that he had done on the stage

adaptations of Adam Sandler's "The Wedding Singer" and Will Ferrell's "Elf," Beguelin had become Broadway's go-to guy whenever there was a movie that needed to be turned into a musical. Which is why Disney Theatrical reached out to Chad and asked : "Would you be interested in adapting Disney's animated feature, 'Aladdin' for the stage?"

To be honest, reaching out to Beguelin was something of a no-brainer. Given that — back in 2002 — Chad wrote the book for "Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular" (i.e. that 45-minute-long version of this Academy Award-winning film which is performed several times daily at Disney California Adventure theme park). So obviously he was already familiar with the material.

But this time around, Disney Theatrical had a very different "Aladdin" in mind. They weren't looking for another 45-minute-long theme park show. But — rather — a traditional two-act Broadway-style musical which could then be licensed out to regional theaters, for international production, etc. A show that adults could actually perform & appear in, rather than "Aladdin Kids," that for-children's-theater-only version which Music Theatre International licenses.

But for Beguelin … Given that he credits "Little Shop" with being the reason that Chad wound up in show business, being given the chance to once again adapt one of Ashman & Menken's animated features to the stage was like a dream come true. So Beguelin immediately said "Yes" to this assignment.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But wait. This story gets better. As Chad recounted on the phone yesterday when we chatted about "Disney's Aladdin: The New Stage Musical" — the two-act stage musical adaptation of this Academy Award-winning animated feature, which will have its world-premiere at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre this July …

"So I met with Alan Menken. And he basically gave me his blessing for adapting 'Aladdin' to  the stage," Beguelin recalled. "But then he said 'Wouldn't it be great if – as part of this stage version — you could then incorporate some of the songs that Howard and I originally wrote for this film that wound up getting cut?"

And from that moment, the development of a stage adaptation of Disney's "Aladdin" took a very interesting turn. As Menken went back into his files and then out pulled all of Ashman's hand-written lyrics & notes for this project.

Howard Ashman actually played the character of Aladdin in a Children's Theatre
Association Production of this story back in 1965. He's the one in the arms of
the chorus in the picture above

"As Alan handed this material to me, he joked that it came with authentic 80's smell," Chad continued. "And as I looked through the pile, there was this wealth of material. Bridges & additional verses for 'Arabian Nights.' An extended opening for 'Prince Ali.' Alternate lyrics for 'Friend Like Me' from back when the Genie was more of a Cab Calloway / Fats Waller kind of character, rather than Robin Williams. Plus entire songs that the public had never heard before"

Which got Beguelin wondering. Given that – when you're turning a movie into a musical — you never want to plop an exact copy of that film up there on stage. You always want to enhance your original source material. Give the audience something new to see & experience.

And given that Alan had just offered up this wealth of material that he & Howard had originally written for "Aladdin" that hadn't been heard outside of Disney Studios  … Well, what better way was there to enhance & expand the stage version of this animated feature than by folding in all of these cut songs and story ideas?

(L to R) Alan Menken and Howard Ashman during the days that they worked together for
Walt Disney Animation Studios. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Of course, there were some drawbacks with Chad's plan. In order to properly accommodate this material, that meant bumping out the borders of this project quite a bit. Deliberately stepping away from the storyline of this much beloved movie and then doing things like giving Aladdin a trio of street-smart friends — Omar, Babkak and Kassim – to hang out with. Would audiences in Seattle be accepting of a stage version of Disney's "Aladdin" that differed so significantly from the animated feature?

"And then there was the question of how far we should actually go back with all of this cut material?," Beguelin asked. "I mean, do we go all the way back to that version of 'Aladdin' which Howard & Alan created where Jasmine was a spoiled brat and Aladdin's real love interest for that movie turns out to be Abby, that good-hearted common girl from the marketplace? How far was too far?"

So striking just the right balance between the old material (i.e. all five songs from the 1992 animated feature) and the new material (i.e. the musical numbers and story ideas that were discarded while "Aladdin" made its way through Walt Disney Animation Studio's development process) was going to be a real challenge for Chad. Especially since Beguelin wanted to fold in some of that Bob Hope / Bing Crosby "Road" picture
flavor that Ashman had originally hoped would be a key ingredient of the animated version of "Aladdin."

Copyright Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved

"We even talked about using a story concept that Howard had explored in the early, early days of this production. In that version of 'Aladdin,' there were actually two genies: the genie of the ring and the genie of the lamp," Chad said. "But in the end, we thought that story idea was straying a bit too far away from the animated version of 'Aladdin.' Which is why we ultimately dropped it."

But all along the way, the folks of Disney Theatrical were incredibly supportive of Beguelin's vision for a stage version of "Aladdin." They were very enthusiastic about a production that somehow mix the familiar songs of the film with these seldom-heard numbers from Ashman & Menken's trunk.

"Of course, the best part was – whenever Casey (Nicholaw, the director of "Disney's Aladdin: The New Stage Musical." Who's probably best known for his choreography on "Spamalot" and his direction of "The Drowsy Chaperone") and I got stuck, we could always turn to Alan. Who was in the room with Howard when a lot of this material was originally written," Chad continued. "So he could then tell us about what Howard's original intent for this material was, where a cut song was supposed to have fit in 'Aladdin' 's storyline, how a certain story arc  for a particular character was supposed to have paid off. Alan's been a terrific and supportive collaborator throughout all of this."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So which songs are actually going to wind up in the stage version of "Aladdin"? Take – for example — "To Be Free." Will that song — which Alan Menken wrote for "Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular" — be included as part of this new stage show? Beguelin was pretty cagey when it came to that question.

"To be honest, we're still in the middle of casting. We won't actually be beginning rehearsals 'til May. So until we get the show up on its feet, I can't really tell you which songs will or will not be in the stage version of 'Aladdin.' " Chad stated. "It's a pretty fluid situation right now."

But that said, Beguelin was very enthusiastic about what he heard and saw at "Aladdin" 's most-recent staged reading, which held back in October.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"It's one thing to hear Howard Ashman's demos for all of these cut songs and think about how wonderful these numbers might be on the stage. But to then hear 20 people sing this beautiful Michael Kosarin arrangements of these same songs with all of their harmonies, that's when you realize that you've got something special here," Chad said.

But as exciting as all of this new material may be, as the guy who's actually adapting "Aladdin" to the stage, Beguelin always has to act as the audience's advocate. Making sure that this two-act stage musical doesn't play too fast & loose with the characters, story, songs and settings that people haved come to know & love through Disney's animated feature.

"That's why we're playing the romance of Aladdin & Jasmine straight and sincere," Chad explained. "That's an aspect of the movie that people really love. So we're not messing with that. Likewise that moment when Aladdin gives up his one chance at happiness to win the Genie's freedom. That's a scene that audiences are really looking forward to seeing being played out on stage. So we're preserving all of the heart and the emotion of that moment from the movie."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But don't go into the stage version of "Aladdin" and then expect to see some name performer doing their Robin Williams impression in the role of the Genie.

"We're casting the best possible performers for this show. Really talented people. Which is why we won't then be asking them to do impressions of characters from an animated film," Beguelin said. "The Genie in the stage version of 'Aladdin' is actually a return to Howard Ashman's original concept for this character. Which means that he's more of a Cab Calloway / Fats Waller kind of performer. Rather than what Robin Williams did with this character."

As to how the story of this much-beloved Disney animated feature will actually play out on stage … Well, again Chad didn't want to give too much away.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"Here's one spoiler, though. The first act ends with Aladdin's transformation into Prince Ali. Which means that the second act begins with 'Prince Ali.' And Casey 's got some terrific ideas about how he's going to bring that musical number to life on stage," Beguelin concluded.

And if you'd like to see if Chad and friends actually succeed in their quest to mix the old and the new. Taking what people already loved about the animated version of "Aladdin" and then enhancing that, creating this whole new world … er … stage show by incorporating all of these cut songs and story ideas from Alan Menken's files … Well, then you might want to make plans now to catch "Disney's Aladdin: The New Stage Musical." Which will have its world-premiere in Seattle this Summer and then run at the 5th Avenue Theatre July 7 – 31st.

Your thoughts?

The article was updated / corrected on March 21, 2011 to fold in additional information

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 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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