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Well, whaddya know? Another Why For!

Jim Hill answers only one JHM reader’s question this week. But what a question! This time around, Jim talk about Steve Jobs’ plans for Pixar, what the Walt Disney Company has just started to do with the Muppets, a one-of-a-kind Henson event that’s being held this weekend at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as well as his upcoming Disney World tours.



Peter S. writes in to ask:


Do you have any news regarding the Pixar/Disney split, and/or Disney’s plans for The Muppets beyond “The Wizard Of Oz” TV special?

For the sake of movie audiences, I really hope Pixar and Disney can reach an agreement of some sort. If not, it’s Disney’s loss I think.

I assume the Muppets have no hope of ever going back to The Jim Henson Company which makes me wonder how long that company can stay afloat…

As a big fan of both Pixar and the Muppets I’m eager to learn as much as possable about these stories.

Thank you!


Dear Peter —

Let’s start with Pixar. More importantly that animation studio’s CEO, Steve Jobs. Given that Mr. Jobs controls over 60% of Pixar’s stock, he can pretty do whatever he wants with that animation studio. And — to be honest — Hollywood still isn’t getting any clear signals about Steve wants to do with Pixar.

I mean, let’s take a look at that third quarter earnings webcast that Jobs chaired last Thursday. Steve threw out so many curve balls during that conference call that Pixar’s investors — as well as most of Wall Street — are still trying to figure what Pixar’s CEO actually has his sleeve.

The Reader’s Digest version of what Jobs said to investors is:

  1. Pixar is no longer in negotiations with the Walt Disney Company regarding an extension of their existing coproduction / distribution agreement.
  2. Over the past couple of months, Pixar representatives have been making the rounds in Hollywood. Meeting with representatives of other major studios for what are euphemistically being called “get acquainted sessions.”
  3. Steve will not be making an official decision about which studio Pixar will be signing with until the Summer of 2005. (Which — not-so-co-incidentally — is when the Walt Disney Company will be announcing who its next CEO will be.)
  4. Pixar has pushed back the release of its first post-Disney — “Ratatouille” — from the Fall of 2006 to the Summer of 2007.

  • So — given that Jobs has once again pushed back the time period for when he has to make a final decision about which studio will wind up releasing Pixar’s post-Disney pictures — Hollywood insiders are betting that what Steve really wants to do here is remain in business with the Mouse House. But ONLY if Disney’s CEO is A) a guy that Jobs can work with and B) that the new Big Cheese at Disney is willing to meet the sure-to-be extraordinary financial terms that Steve will be spelling out.

    On the other hand, if Jobs ultimately opts not to have Disney continue as Pixar’s co-production/distribution partner … Well, that’s not really a bad thing either.

    Which (I know) must sound like blasphemy to a lot of your Disneyana fans out there. But I like to take the long view, folks. And — if Disney goes from being Pixar’s partner to its rival … Well, that might finally force that that useless group of suits who currently run Walt Disney Feature Animation (I.E. The same bunch of boobs who recently chased off WDAF vet Pam Coats because — God Forbid! — she wanted Disney to once more make quality films with solid stories & memorable characters again. Rather than cost effective products that could be easily intergrated into the corporation’s pre-existing business units) to stop micro-managing and allow the studio’s remaining artists & storymen to make good movies again.

    Besides, back in the 1930s – 1950s, Walt Disney Productions didn’t distribute its own films. Disney had the distribution units at two other major studios — United Artists (1932 – 1937) and RKO Pictures (1937 – 1956) — handle the logistics when it came to getting its shorts & features out to theaters. It wasn’t til 1954 ’til Disney eventually set up its own film distribution company: The Buena Vista Distribution Company, which later became known as Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

    And — given that things seem to have turned out well when Walt Disney finally got total control over how his pictures were distributed — I’d imagine that Pixar will continue to prosper, that the studio will continue to crank out entertaining films no matter who Steve Jobs eventually signs his distribution deal with.

    Sure, it’d be nice if Pixar stayed with Disney. By that I mean: I know that John Lasseter and Pete Docter are huge Disneyana fans. And that these Pixar vets really get off on the idea that the characters that they created are now walking around inside Disney theme parks. That the films they made are serving as the basis for new rides & shows at Disneyland & Walt Disney World.

    But let’s remember what Steve Jobs once said. That he didn’t just want to go into competition with the Walt Disney Company. Jobs wanted to become the NEXT Walt Disney. So — knowing that — and knowing that Pixar’s just recieved clearance to finally go ahead with its plans to double the size of its Emeryville, CA. campus … Well, who knows what direction we’ll see Steve take his animation company in next? Will we see Pixar follow Disney’s well-established path and ultimately move into the production of live action features, television shows and — dare I say it? — theme parks?

    All I can tell you folks is that Pixar Animation Studio is currently sitting on top of a cash reserve of nearly 3/4th of a billion dollars. And that stack of money is sure to get a whole lot higher once the ticket receipts for “The Incredibles” and next year’s release, “Cars,” are finally tallied. And Jobs is sure to do SOMETHING with that huge pile of dough.

    But — as to what exactly that might be … Well, as I said at the very start of this week’s “Why For” column, Steve’s been sending out an awful lot of mixed signals lately. So maybe Pixar will stick with Disney IF (And that’s a pretty big “If,” folks) Jobs likes the Mouse House’s new Big Cheese. But — to be honest — it isn’t helping matters when Mickey officially revealed earlier this week that the Walt Disney Company is moving forward with production of “Toy Story III.” A sequel that Steve is said to be deadset against.

    So now, Peter S., can you understand why it’s been extremely difficult for even the most inside of Hollywood insiders to predict what Steve Jobs is going to do next. Which (according to Pixar staffers that I talk with) seems to suit Steve just fine.

    Now — as for the second part of your questions — on the Muppet side of things … I have some much happier news.

    You want some idea of what the Walt Disney Company is going to do with Kermit & Co? Here. Click on this link, which will take you straight to The newly redesigned, recently relaunched (“How recently?,” you ask. How’s Wednesday of this week strike you?) online home of Miss Piggy & pals.

    Here, you’ll be able to see the logo as well as concept art for the Muppets’ first project-of-size for the Walt Disney Company, “The Muppet Wizard of Oz” (Which is still on track to debut on ABC in May of 2005 as a special “Sweeps” episode of “The Wonderful World of Disney”). There’s also lots of other fun spots to visit at the site — like the newstand (Where you can check out the latest Muppet-related headlines as well as bounce various objects off of the poor Muppet Newsman’s head) or you can poke around Miss Piggy’s trailer.

  • Clearly, Disney’s web designers put a lot of love & care into the creation of As I understand it, their goal was to create a site that would recapture much of the sense of fun & whimsy that Kermit & Co. have been so closely associated with over the past 40+ years.

    Mind you, a lot of JHM readers have already written to me, thrilled with how pretty the site is. As Janice’s Twin said:

    “This site looks just like the way I pictured MGM’s “Muppet Studios” looking after I read your old “When You Wish Upon a Frog” series of stories over at You don’t suppose that is just WDI’s way of field-testing what a new version of a “Muppet” land for Disney’s theme parks would look like?”

    Well, that seemed like kind of a silly question, Janice’s Twin. But — just in case you were on to something — I made a call to a friend at Walt Disney Imagineering. He said:

    “Admittedly, the site looks great. And a number of the ideas that the web designers used here are actually direct lifts from plans that the Imagineers previously made for Muppet-related shows & attractions for the parks. Like Miss Piggy’s trailer, for example. We built something just like that for the ‘Muppets on Location: Days of Swine & Roses” show at MGM.

    But as for WDI actually building a new ‘Muppet’ land for one of the theme parks that looks just like this … Maybe in a few years, after Chris Curtin gets this franchise back up to full speed, we can talk about it. But — as for the immediate future — nothing this ambitious is going to happen, Jim. At least ’til Disney management determines that the company can actually make money off of the Muppets.”

    Which I know has to be disappointing news to Janice’s Twin. But at least I got you an answer.

    Now — getting to Peter S. ‘s original question. As in: What’s going to become of the Jim Henson Company now that the Henson family has sold off the Muppets to the Disney Corporation? … Well, Brian Henson is in the process of radically reinventing JHC. Changing that production company which — for decades now — has been closely associated with Miss Piggy & pals into a firm that produces fantasy & science fiction films that will appeal to a broad family audience.

    If you’d like to learn more about what a Muppet-less Jim Henson Company will be like, Peter S., then I suggest that you head over to Where you can poke around and learn even more about what Brian Henson has planned for his father’s old company.

    Speaking of Henson’s family: Jim’s daughters Lisa & Cheryl along with his widow, Jane, are all expected to make appearances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this coming Saturday & Sunday. The Hensons — along with veteran muppeteers like Jerry Nelson, Carroll Spinney & Kevin Clash — will all be taking part an extra special event entitled “Muppets, Music & Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy.” Co-sponsored by BAM and the Jim Henson Foundation, this two day event will feature screenings of rarely-seen footage, talks by long time Henson collaborators like writer Jerry Juhl, producer Martin Baker and historian Craig Shemin as well as puppet-building workshops.

    This sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime event for Henson fans, doesn’t it? That’s why Joe Apel is heading to NYC this coming weekend. So that he can file a full report on “Muppets, Music & Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy” at this website sometime next week.

    On the other hand, if you’d prefer to experience the fun all for yourself, you can just head on up to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (which is located at 30 Lafayette Avenue) this weekend and purchase tickets to the various events. Speaking of which, if you’d like to learn more about what’s actually been scheduled for “Muppets, Music & Magic,” click on this link.

    So there you have it, Peter S. In one marathon-length “Why For,” hopefully I’ve answered most of your Muppet & Pixar related questions.

    Anyway … That’s it for this week, folks. Oops! Almost forgot … Scott Liljenquist of Mouseketrips wants me to remind you guys that I’ll be giving tours of the Magic Kingdom down at Disney World on Thursday, December 9th and Monday, December 13th. So — if you’re going to be in Orlando next month and would like to hear even more Disney-related stories straight from the horse’s ass … er … I mean “mouth,” click on this link.

    Have a great weekend, okay? And we’ll (hopefully) see you all again next week at JHM.


  • 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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