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Wednesdays with Wade: Disneylanders look back at the birth of their park

JHM favorite Wade Sampson has a real winner this week, folks. He’s got members of “Club 55” talking about what it was like to work at Disneyland in the Summer of ’55.

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Are you a Disneylander?

That is what the first employees at the Disneyland theme park were called back in the Fifties. There was even an employee publication called “The Disneylander.” Did you have a name tag? Nope, you didn’t. You had a badge with a number on it that was based on seniority. Walt’s badge was “Number One” of course and some of you may remember him flashing it to Disneyland’s first Ambassador, Julie Reihm, on the “Wonderful World of Color” Tenth Anniversary show. Were you there on Opening Day with drinking fountains not working because of a plumber’s strike or food locations running out of food or guests with children on their shoulders trying to throw them onto the carousel horses or kids aiming their Autopia cars at cast members or women’s high heels sticking in the recently laid asphalt on Main Street?

No? You only HEARD those stories? Well, as we start to celebrate the Happiest Celebration, I dug through my files to bring you some memories from Disneyland’s opening on July 17, 1955 in the words of those front line cast members who were there. (After the opening of Disneyland, these cast members formed an organization known as “Club 55” and often got together to share memories. At the twentieth anniversary, they even published a memory book of some of these memories for their members. It was called appropriately “Club 55”).

   

Joyce Belanger:

“A couple of days before we opened, I had my costume fitting. The Seamstresses must have worked 24 hours a day getting costumes ready. I had one day of cash handling and then the night before the Park opened, we got to see inside the Park. Nothing seemed finished. But the Castle…that was impressive. It belonged and looked like it had always been there.

I found out I was working next to the ‘Mark Twain’ in a Ticket Booth that wasn’t completed yet. I went home and didn’t know how things were going to work out. The next day, everyone there was supposed to be an invited guest, so my Ticket Booth wasn’t open, but it was finished. I couldn’t believe how everything looked so chaotic the 16th and then the next day it was sparkling clean and ready. I had lunch that day at Carnation. Sitting at the next table was Ronald Reagan. Who’d have known? I do remember he was putting on his contacts.

On Opening Day for the Viewliner, Walt was at the controls. There were some beautiful new flower beds at the station and as everybody crowded closer and closer to see Walt, they got into the flowers. This kinda bothered Walt a bit and he asked the people to ‘Please keep off the flowers!’

“I can still see Walt strolling through the Park. He didn’t talk down to the children. He’d bend down so they could talk to him at their level. Kids always came up to talk to him. He’d pose for pictures and always had time for them. And they loved him. They’d follow him all over the Park. He was like the Pied Piper and wherever he went, the kids followed. He had a very child-like quality about him and never seemed to tire of the Park.”

Ray Van Der Warker:

“Bob Penfield and I just got out of high school and we were good friends and had played football together, so we decided we’d go out together to get a job. Well, we hit about four places with applications before we came to Disneyland. We got hired and we started about a week before the Park opened.

They brought us in the Park and none of the attractions were finished. None. Main Street was just dirt and the Mark Twain was just a shell. Anyway, one of our jobs was to test out the new attractions. We sat for about two days behind the Castle because it was the only cool spot and there wasn’t anything else to do. But I’ll never forget the first ride we got to test out. I can’t think of the name of the thing, but it was some sort of satellite and you got on this conveyor belt that took you around to what was supposed to be a look down at Earth. It didn’t impress me and we had to test that thing nearly all day and we got sick of it.

But the night before the Park opened, Bob and I were asked to work overtime because they had just finished ‘Peter Pan’ and we were the only ones who were trained on it. When we started, we looked at the Pirate Ship and it still hadn’t been painted. We practiced all night and we knew we had to come back the next day for a full shift for Opening. Well, we got out around 2:00 am and the Pirate Ship had been painted! The next day, we basically trained the night crew during the day.

Fantasyland was the last area to open that day. Boy, when they lowered that drawbridge, it seemed like all 30,000 of them came in at once. And there were so many people that they had to close the Carousel a few times because guests climbed over the chains and we couldn’t control them.

Bob Penfield and I were supposed to learn how to operate the attractions but they were never made ready until an hour and a half before opening.”

Earl Anderson:

“In July of 1955, I came to Disneyland and my first job was helping to build the lumber storage building. I would get down on my hands and knees in the rain and mud to work on the foundations. On Opening Day, John Yarber and I got a call that the gate had fallen off the Mule Pack Ride, and that we were to go and fix it. We had not the slightest idea where the Mule Pack Ride was.”

Jim Barngrover:

“On July 10, 1955 the local musicians’ office got a call for musicians at Disneyland. It was to last for two weeks and a 16 piece band was wanted. The band was put together by Tommy Walker and Tommy’s father, Vesey Walker. He soon became the first Disneyland Band director. We used to play on a gazebo in what is now Plaza Gardens. There were no seats for the guests and there was no shade. So nobody came to listen! That’s when we started marching.”

 Chuck Boyajian:

“Before Opening Day, I was working nights and I never believed that we’d get open. But come July 17th, we opened with a bang. We had open trash cans then, and we had trouble getting the trash removed. It piled up in a gigantic heap behind City Hall…trash was overflowing everywhere.”

Roy Brem:

“I remember on Opening Day that the movie star kids were, to put it mildly, UNRULY! I started up on the steam trains as a conductor.”

Imogene Brinkmeyer:

“I remember Opening Day. I ought to!! I spent Opening Day at home in bed with a strep throat. I couldn’t find a doctor around anywhere and finally I got hold of a pediatrician. He gave me some penicillin but it didn’t do any good. So I missed Opening Day, but they were so busy with the crowds, they didn’t even know I was missing! Anyway, I came to work the next day and it was HOT AS HADES…you couldn’t get a drink anywhere. There had been no training for the Ticket Sellers, but everyone pulled together and everything fell into place. I still don’t know how it all worked out!”

Rima Bruce:

“Opening Day was bedlam! Nobody knew their way around the Park…took an hour to get from Personnel to my job. Then we turned out offices over to the Press and I went out to watch the celebrities. I remember that Hawaiian Abe was in front of the Bazaar in Adventureland making palm frond hats for Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.”

John Catone:

“I sure remember Black Sunday. There was a plumbers’ strike and very few toilet facilities were ready. Roy Disney said, gently, that he didn’t mind if the people urinated in the bushes! Walt was like a little boy with a new toy!”

Dominic Conte:

“The night before, we stayed up all night! We never believed that it could open! Sunday morning it was a picture! Beautiful! T.V. cameras…really exciting! The first week in the Park, I got lost several times!”

Pete Crimmino:

“If you watch the T.V. program of Opening Day, you’ll see me guiding a boat through the Hippo Pool. Adventureland was the last attraction to show…and became the most popular. In those days, we didn’t have microphones and used megaphones. Also, the narration was not canned, and we developed most of it by ourselves. Those were very busy days. I think one guy had a record of 97 trips without a break.”

Stan Gomez:

“Don’t even mention it! The day before opening I worked from 6 am to 6 pm and then came back at midnight. I had to distribute 500 or more lockers all over the Park. Then I went on foot to check each key against the locker. That look till 7 am. After that I left and spent Opening Day at home asleep. I was in charge of the old burro trail for awhile and then Tom Sawyer Island when it first opened. It sure was a headache with the kids pulling up shrubbery faster than I could replace it.”

Frank Martines:

“I didn’t get much of a view as I was at the Main Gate. We all looked like bellhops, with Eisenhower yellow jackets, green trousers, gold ‘overseas’ caps…we were pretty proud! At the end of the summer, I went to Main Street as Foreman and then I became an Assistant Supervisor. The Company bought the supervisors grey suits with ORANGE ties…the better to be seen in the area!”

Earl Wuestneck:

“What do I remember? People…people…people! We would open the gates for twenty minutes and then close for twenty minutes. Celebrities everywhere…miles of film taken. I wore a little military hat on the side of my head, a gold ‘Ike’ jacket, green pants, brown shoes and white gloves!”

Cal McMurtre:

“Everything was a mess. I was workin’ on Tom Sawyer Island trying to bring up grass. I ran the sprinklers and I repaired them and, of course, I was the one that had to put them in. One day, before opening, I spent 16 hours on the island…they had forgotten me! Opening day I was kept busy trying to keep out of sight of the guests, when I saw Fess Parker coming down the mule trail.”

George Mills:

“As the guests were coming in the FRONT door, we were going out the BACK door to the boneyard with EVERYTHING that wasn’t nailed down! The boneyard was a gigantic sea of junk. In the castle courtyard you could see a little blue flame where a gas main had never been capped! We had problems pumping the Adventureland River…bluegills were in all the water systems. The strainers were all plugged with the little fish.”

Gunter Otto:

“I had worked many hours in the Jungle with Joe Delfin. The work skiffs had no motors, then, and were too heavy to paddle, so we put on tennis shoes, jumped into the river and pushed the boats, laden with their cargoes of plants and flowers. I remember on Opening Day, I was to turn on sprinklers at a signal given by a television director. He gave a wrong signal and I turned on the sprinklers just as Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen came riding out of the Living Desert..they got soaking wet and I was sure that I’d get fired for that one!”

Cora Lee Sargent:

“Bob Cummings stopped and talked to me and I wasn’t any good for three hours after that! Being fitted for costumes, a wardrobe girl suggested that the ‘not so well endowed’ wear FALSIES. There were no lockers. We just hung our clothes on poles with our names on them. The first winter we wore our own coats. There were no requirements on shoes and I wore tennis shoes sometimes.”

Marion Schawacha:

“Hectic! Painters still painting. Carpenters still sawing. The waiting lines were all mixed up and criss-crossing each other. The line from Autopia would end up at the Space Bar and vice versa. All you could see in Tomorrowland was PEOPLE! The guy who was supposed to be the manager almost blew the place up. He turned the gas on for the big oven and then went down the corridor to get a match. BOOM!!…he later became a treasurer.”

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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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