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Why For?

In a slight inversion of the usual formula, Jim uses today’s column to provide a lengthy answer to a single question. As in: How you can see a rather lengthy scene that was cut from “Monsters, Inc.” Also where you can go this weekend to meet a veteran Disney artist.



Hey, gang!

Jim Hill again. Just finishing up a pretty busy week here at the site. As you might have noticed, I’ve been hammering out brand new stories for JHM every day this week. And — to be honest — I’m kind of wiped right now.

So — rather than go with the usual format for “Why For” — which (as you know) means lots of answers to lots of your questions, how about this: One rather lengthy answer to a single question.

I used a recent e-mail from ProdigalSun as my leaping-off point. It read:

Dear Jim:

Thanks for posting that story this week about your trip to the Disney lot to see “Raising Helen.” Man, I wish that I could get to do some of the cool stuff that you do, Jim. Touring motion picture studios. Seeing advance test screenings of movies. Finding out about all those scenes that get cut out of Disney animated movies …


Alright, admittedly some of the stuff that I get to do as part of my work here at the site is pretty cool. But hey … it’s not like I’m the only person who ever gets to see any this ultra-secret behind-the-scenes stuff.

Take — for example — those scenes that get cut of Disney’s animated features. Honestly, ProdigalSun, anyone can get to see stuff like this. The tough part is … knowing where and when to look.

Take — for example — “Monsters, Inc.” Would you like to see and read a full-blown sequence from this Pixar animated feature that got cut out the film very late in the game? Something that didn’t even turn up on the “Monsters, Inc.” 2-disc DVD? Then go pick up a copy of “Boo on the Loose” (January 2002, Random House).

I’m not kidding, people. This $3.99 softcover children’s book — from Random House’s “Step into Reading” series — is actually based on a sequence that was originally supposed to have been in “Monsters, Inc.” This sequence was reportedly fully developed, ready to go into animation. But it was eventually cut from the film because … well … to be honest, the scene really doesn’t portray Mike and Sully in a very sympathetic manner.

To explain: this sequence would have supposedly come in the film right after Boo falls asleep in Mike’s bed. Now — as you’ll remember — the two monsters are absolutely desperate to get the little girl out of their apartment. For fear that — should the Child Detection Agency ever find out that they’ve been harboring a toxic human child — they’ll be banished forever to the human world.

Which is why Mike formulates eventually this simple if somewhat cruel plan: the next morning, he and Sully will lure Boo down into Mike’s car. They’ll then drive out into the countryside, leave Boo there and … voila! Problem solved.

Well, the next morning, things (of course) don’t go quite as smoothly as Mike had planned. By that I mean, he and Sully do get Boo (who’s now disguised as a baby monster, so as not to arouse suspicion among the neighbors) downstairs and into the car all right. They do also manage to drive out to the country, to a remote park on the outermost edge of Monstropolis, without things going awry. It’s only when Mike and Sully try to get the toddler out of the car that their carefully crafted plan immediately falls apart.

What goes wrong? Well — for starters — the moment that Sully and Mike exit the car, Boo leans on the “Auto Lock” button in the back seat. Which instantly locks the two monsters out of the car. Looking in through the windows, Mike and Sully plead with the little girl to hit the “Auto Lock” button again and re-open the car’s doors. Boo just smiles and waves out at the two monsters.

So Mike and Sully quickly confer. They then decide that the only way that they’ll be able to lure the little girl out of the car is by pretending to have fun. So much fun that Boo will have no choice but to open the door to come outside and join them. So — using a few items that they scavenge out of the trunk — the two monsters put on an awesome display of pretend fun by:

Having Sully jam Mike inside of a spare tire and then rolling him down a hill.
Sully seats Mike on top of the car’s jack, and then — using the jack handle — pumps the one eyed little green monster up-and-down, up-and-down … as if Mike’s on some ride at the carnival.
Then — running out of props — Sully just grabs Mike by the arms and spins him repeatedly in a circle, saying “Wheee! Doesn’t this look like fun? Don’t you want to play, Boo?”

But Boo doesn’t budge. She just sits happily in the back seat, playing with Little Mikey (Mike’s teddy bear).

Things look pretty bleak for Mike and Sully. Until a monster butterfly flutters by the car window. Instantly intrigued by the colorful insect, Boo quickly opens the car door and chases after the butterfly as it flutters across the park. Soon both Boo and the butterfly disappear into the brush at the edge of the park.

“Now’s our chance!” says Mike. The little green monster leaps the car and urges his large friend to join him. Unfortunately for Mike, Sully’s clearly having second thoughts. The blue big monster’s really reluctant to get in the car and just drive off, abandoning Boo. Much as he’d hate to admit it, Monsters, Inc. ‘s top scarer has developed some feelings for the little girl.

Still — at Mike’s urging — Sully does eventually get in the car. And the two monsters do actually try to drive off and leave Boo. But they can’t.

“Why can’t they leave?” you ask. Not because Mike and Sully have a change of heart. But rather, because Mike’s car is now out of gas.

The two monsters sit there for a moment, wondering what they should do. Then Sully gets an idea! If he goes out into the woods and find Boo, then brings the little girl back to the car and gets to her to scream … well, Boo’s scream would hopefully be enough to fill up Mike’s fuel tank. Which would then allow the two monsters to make their escape.

So — grabbing Mike’s teddy bear out of the backseat — Sully heads off for the woods at the edge of the park. He then calls and calls for the little girl, eventually growing worried that Boo may have become lost or injured or attacked by some animal when …

WHAM! Boo comes scrambling out of the underbrush. Clearly delighted to see “Kitty” again, she rushes right up to the big blue monster and hugs him around the leg. Sully is relieved to see that the little girl’s okay … then obviously puzzled as to why he’s not having any sort of toxic reaction from being in this close a contact with a human child.

Meanwhile, Mike’s waiting nervously inside the car. He looks through the windshield and sees … Sully walking out of the woods, holding Boo’s hand. “You’re holding its hand,” the green monster says with horror. “I know,” replies Sullivan. “I feel okay, though.”

Sully puts Boo back in the back seat of the car. Mike now urges the big blue monster to make the cute little toddler scream (so that she can fill up the car’s gas tank). So Sully turns around and sees this trusting little girl smiling up at him … and just can’t bring himself to frighten Boo.

“Come on! Just scare it! Now!” says Mike. But James P. Sullivan won’t. Which is why — in frustration — Mike Wyznowski slams his head down on the car’s steering column. Which causes the car horn to honk. Which somehow startles Mike in a very comical way. Mike’s reaction causes Boo to laugh …

Which causes the car’s engine to suddenly roar to life. Mike and Sully exchanged startled looks, as if to say “How the hell did that happen?”

Mike looks back at Boo, then over at Sully. “Okay,” Wyznowksi says. “She can stay … for now.”

But — as the two monsters drive back toward Monstropolis and the little girl snuggles down into the back seat, hugging Little Mikey as she falls asleep — the little green monster mutters “But just remember … that’s my bear.”

That’s a great scene, isn’t it? Loaded with heart and humor. So why did the guys at Pixar eventually cut it?

Well — as I mentioned at the start of this “Why For” answer — this proposed sequence didn’t exactly put Mike and Sully in a very good light. I mean, here were the two leading monsters in the movie, getting ready to abandon a cute little girl in the wilderness. Leaving poor Boo to fend for herself. Doing something like was an awful easy way to make the audience really dislike Mike and Sully.

Finally recognizing the risks involved with inserting this scene in the movie, the “Monsters, Inc.” story team — after literally spending months developing this particular sequence — opted to drop it. Deciding that it might be smarter in the long run to go another way. Create some other sort of scene that would cover the same ground, story-wise, but not make Mike and Sully seem so unsympathetic to movie-goers. Not make these two guys seem like such heartless … well … monsters.

So the storyboards for the “Boo in the Park” sequence all got pulled down and filed away. Seemingly gone for good. Until the folks at Disney came sniffing around. They explained that the Mouse had just signed this deal with the folks at Random House to create a series of easy-to-read books. Books that would use exciting stories with colorful illustrations to help youngsters from kindergarten age right up through fourth grade master the fundamentals of reading.

So these Disney reps were asking the people at Pixar if they had any ideas relating to “Monsters, Inc.” that they could into books for this Random House “Step into Reading” series. At first, the Pixar crew said “No” … until someone suddenly remembered that “Boo in the Park” scene that had been cut out the picture. So they dug out those storyboards and handed them over to Disney.

Disney in turn handed these raw materials over to some very talented people. Mainly author Gail Herman and illustrators Scott Tilley, Floyd Norman and Brooks Campbell. Who reworked those Pixar storyboards until they became a stand alone book: “Boo on the Loose,” which hit store shelves back in January 2002.

So — if you want your very own copy of a scene that got cut from “Monsters, Inc.” — go pick up a copy of “Boo on the Loose” at your local book store. Or you can order a copy from and help support JimHillMedia.

Speaking of Floyd Norman, this much beloved animator and veteran story artist will be appearing this Sunday, July 13th at the Disneyana Pin Show. A day-long event featuring the very finest in Disney pins and collectibles, this Pin Show is going to be held at the beautiful Coast Anaheim Hotel at 1855 South Harbor Boulevard in Anaheim, CA. (You really can’t miss this hotel. It’s just one block south of Disneyland.)

Presented by Disneyana Fun Fair, the Disneyana Pin Show will be held this Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is only $3.00. As an extra added bonus, with each paid admission, each guest will receive one of Norman’s limited edition “Walt’s World” collector pins (Which each feature of Floyd’s caustic cartoons about Disney Studios).

Though — if you want a real collectible — you might want to bring along a copy of “Boo on the Loose” and get that signed by the artist. I know that’s what I’m going to go the next time I see Floyd Norman.

Anywho … I hope you folks enjoyed this epic length answer to a single “Why For” question. Next week, we’ll try to get things back to normal around here. With lots of answers to your Disney-related questions.

Beyond that … it’s good to be back. And there are lots of great Disney-related stories yet to come. So be sure to drop in again next week.

Til then, you folks take care, okay?


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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