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Jim Hill returns with even more answers to your Disney-related questions. This time around, Jim offers up info about ABC’s made-for-TV musicals and Disney Feature Animation’s new President David Stainton, then tells you how to get on the Disney lot in Burbank … followed by another shameless pitch for contributions.

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In response to this week’s “Oh-ho, the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin’ … again” story, Close2Glenn wrote to say:

Dear Jim,

I really enjoyed yesterday’s story about “The Music Man.” But — in your article — you neglected to mention two other musicals that Disney recently produced for television: “Geppetto” (which starred Drew Carey and aired on ABC in May 2000) and “South Pacific” (which starred Glenn Close and aired on ABC in March 2001).

I realize that these two other made-for-TV musicals weren’t quite up to “Cinderella” and “Annie”‘s caliber. But I still think that they were worth mentioning. So is there some reason that you left these two shows out of your article … or are you just getting forgetful in your old age?

Actually, leaving “Geppetto” and “South Pacific” out of the article was a deliberate choice, Close2Glenn. You see, the focus of that piece was TV musicals that were produced by Storyline Entertainment. Rather than all the musicals that Disney has had produced for television to date.

“Geppetto” was actually produced by James Pentecost Productions and Karz Entertainment in association with Walt Disney Television, while “South Pacific” was actually an ABC Premiere Event. Which means that the network’s own Movies and Mini-series division developed this new TV movie version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic (with Lawrence D. Cohen, Michael Gore and Glenn Close herself executive producing).

However, given that neither of these productions racked up really impressive ratings and/or garnered the same sort of great reviews that “Annie” and “Cinderella” got, Disney and ABC seemed to have learned their lesson. Which is why — from here on in — only Craig Zadan and Neil Meron of Storyline Entertainment will handle the development of any new made-for-television musicals for the ABC network.

Speaking of which: Word broke earlier this week that ABC officials have officially greenlit production of a live action TV movie based on Disney’s 1996 animated musical, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Storyline Entertainment has tapped Jeff Becker (who just finished directing next month’s TV movie version of “The Music Man”) to helm “Hunchback.” Production is supposed to get underway in early 2004, with an eye toward having this new live action musical ready to air on ABC during the February 2005 sweeps period.

There’s no word yet as to possible casting for this TV movie. But as soon as I hear something. I’ll let you know, okay?

Next, KrazyKatt44 chimed with this e-mail to say:

Jim:

By now, you’ve no doubt heard the awful news that David Stainton has been named as Thomas Schumacher’s replacement. So the new head of Disney Feature Animation is the former head of Disney Television Animation. That’s it. Game Over, Jim.

Well, you have to admit that it was a pretty nice run. 65 years as Hollywood’s No. 1 Feature Animation operation. But now … I guess we’re in for a never-ending series of pieces of crap like “101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure.”

Ah, well. It was fun while it lasted.

KrazyKatt44 –

You’ll forgive me if I don’t join in with all you Disney gloom-and-doomers. Those of you who have been gnashing your teeth and rending your garments even since this news broke earlier this month.

Why for? Because I’m afraid that I don’t share your opinion that David Stainton’s recent appointment automatically translates to the end of Walt Disney Feature Animation as we know it.

I mean, did you even bother to read Stainton’s resume before you started complaining about this guy? Sure, David’s been the president of Walt Disney Television Animation since January 2001. But in the 10 years prior to that, Stainton was a WDFA employee. A guy who worked his way up through the ranks by shepherding pictures like “The Lion King,” “Pocahontas,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and “Hercules” through production.

You want to know what David Stainton is really like? Talk with any of the animators who worked with the guy while he was in charge of WDFA’s Parisian studio (January 1998 – 2001). They’ll tell you that David was a suit who actually liked artists. A guy who’d regularly run interference for Glen Keane and the production team over in France with the executives back in Burbank. Just so they’d have the time (and the money) they needed to do “Tarzan” right.

Or — better still — ask some of the WDFA vets like Burny Mattinson (the producer/director of “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” and “The Great Mouse Detective”) who are still employed by the Walt Disney Company thanks to David.

How’d that happen? Well, do you remember back in the Fall of 2000, when WDFA began laying off employees? Handing out pink slips to long time Feature Animation staffers like Burny? David couldn’t stand to see all that talent, all that experience and expertise walking off the lot. So, as soon as people like Mattinson would walk out from under that giant Sorcerer Mickey hat, Stainton would snatch them up and put these artists to work over in the Frank Wells building (the building on the lot that Disney Television Animation is based out of).

This wasn’t the act of some faceless, gutless suit, KrazyKatt44. A guy who’s out to make a name for himself (like the former head of Disney Parks and Resorts Paul Pressler) by gleefully doing Eisner’s bidding. Stainton’s that rarest of rare thing, kids: an animation executive who actually likes animation. A guy who really understands how important it is to nuture and protect artists, not abuse and neglect them.

That’s the reason that so many talented former WDFA story and storyboard artists are now happily working for Disney Television Animation. That’s also why I’m inclined to cut David Stainton some slack.

After all, Stainton’s in an awfully tough spot right now. I mean, he’s under orders to make additional cuts at WDFA. To do everything he can to get production costs down and then keep them down. So soon David won’t be the guy who’s rescuing animators by finding them new jobs over at DTA. But rather, David will be the one who’ll now be deciding who gets a pink slip.

Still, given his history (and all the good things that I’ve heard about this guy), I have to imagine that Stainton will do everything he can to keep the accountants at bay. Which is why I’m asking all you Disney doom-and-gloomers to back off a bit. After all, David’s job is going to be difficult enough without Disneyana fans immediately asking for his head.

Putting it bluntly: This isn’t another “Promote Paul Pressler” situation, people. David’s actually one of the good guys. So don’t make an already difficult situation harder than it has to be. Let’s back off on the rabble-rousing rhetoric for a while (please?) and let the man do his job.

Which (right now) is trying to figure out how to keep the accountants from heedlessly dismantling the Mouse Factory.

Finally, Count Floyd flaps in to ask:

Jim:

Love the site. Got a quick question for you, though: I’m headed out to Hollywood next month. And — while I’m in town — I’d love to take a tour of the Disney lot in Burbank. So do you know someone that I could contact to set up something like that?

Dear Count Floyd:

Sadly, Walt Disney Studios isn’t like Universal Hollywood (which is open to tourist traffic virtually every day of the year) or even Warner Bros. or Paramount (which each offer tours to small groups on weekdays by reservation only). Disney’s Burbank production facility is an extremely tightly closed shop. So, if you show up at the gate and don’t have your name on the list, Security will politely but firmly turn you away.

That said, there still might be a way for you to get onto the Disney lot next month, CF. That’s if you’ll agree to become a member of the studio audience for an upcoming taping of “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” the ABC sitcom that’s currently being shot on the Disney lot.

“And just how do I go about doing that?,” I hear you asking, Count Floyd. Well, it’s simple, really. You just contact “Audiences Unlimited,” the LA-based company that actually actively recruits audience members for tapings of network shows.

As of this morning, there are still tickets available for the two “8 Simple Rules” tapings that are scheduled for February: Friday, February 7th (at 7 p.m.) and Friday, February 14th (at 7 p.m. also). So, if that fits in with your travel plans, Count Floyd … contact Audiences Unlimited by clicking here or by calling the office directly at (818) 753-3470 and order your tickets today.

Please be advised that you could be in for kind of a long night, CF. Typically, it takes 3 to 4 hours to tape a 30 minute long sitcom. And — as exciting as it may be initially to see John Ritter and Katey Sagal in person — the fun starts to fade out once you realize that you’re sealed inside a soundstage and can’t get out again until the taping’s complete.

On the upside, your ticket to the taping is absolutely free. And — as you’re being escorted from the Zorro parking structure to the “8 Simple Rules” soundstage — you’ll get to see at least some of the Disney backlot.

All in all, it’s a fun experience, Count Floyd. Something you should do at least once while you’re playing tourist in LA. (Whether or not you opt to ever do it again depends on how you feel about having your bathroom breaks rationed.)

FYI: For those you folks who aren’t all that keen to get on the Disney lot but would still like to see a Disney movie/sitcom star up close, has Audiences Unlimited got a deal for you! AU is currently recruiting audience members to be a part of a pretty special TV special, which will be taped on Friday, January 24th.

“So what’s so special about this TV special?,” you ask. Well, it’s “A User’s Guide to Home Improvement,” a retrospective for the hit ABC sitcom of the 1990s. This very special special will be taped at Westwood’s historic Wadsworth theater. Best of all, “A User’s Guide to Home Improvement” will be hosted by the “Tim the Tool Man” himself, Tim Allen.

So, you’d like to see Tim Allen in person — and maybe even take part in a Q & A session with the star which (hopefully) will make it into the final cut of this special (which is currently scheduled to air next month on ABC as part of that network’s Sweeps programming) — contact Audience Unlimited today!

Anyway … that’s it for this week, folks.

Oops. Almost forgot. Earlier this week, I got a note from her editorship, Michelle Smith (AKA the Fabulous Disney Babe). She tells me that (once again) the cupboards are bare here at JimHillMedia.com. So — if I ask nice — can I please get you nice folks to kick in some cash to help cover JHM’s operating costs?

I know, I know. It’s really aggravating to have people constantly badger for money. Which is why I try not to do it very often.

But honestly, folks … where else on the Web are you going to find stories like this past Wednesday’s piece about the Secret Lab? Or read about scenes and songs that got cut out of your favorite Disney films?

Your donations will help keep stories like that coming in a steady stream. So please (pretty please?) throw some dough in the Amazon honor box to help keep JHM alive and kicking.

On behalf of my ex-wife, I thank you.

Talk to you later,

jrh

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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Jens Dahlmann of LongHorn Steakhouse has lots of great tips when it comes to grilling

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Sure, for some folks, the Fourth of July is all about fireworks. But for the 75% of all Americans who own a grill or a smoker, the Fourth is our Nation’s No. 1 holiday when it comes to grilling. Which is why 3 out of 4 of those folks will spend some time outside today working over a fire.

But here’s the thing: Though 14 million Americans can cook a steak with confidence because they actually grill something every week, the rest of us – because we use our grill or smoker so infrequently … Well, let’s just say that we have no chops when it comes to dealing with chops (pork, veal or otherwise).

So what’s a backyard chef supposed to in a situation like this when there’s so much at steak … er … stake? Turn to someone who really knows their way around a grill for advice. People like Jens Dahlmann, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Darden Restaurant’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.

Given that Jens’ father & grandfather were chefs, this is a guy who literally grew up in a kitchen. In his teens & twenties, Dahlmann worked in hotels & restaurants all over Switzerland & Germany. Once he was classically trained in the culinary arts, Jens then  jumped ship. Well, started working on cruise ships, I mean.

Anyway … While working on Cunard’s Sea Goddess, Dahlmann met Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque 2000. Sirio was so impressed with Jens’ skills in the kitchen that he offered him the opportunity to become sous-chef at this New York landmark. After four years of working in Manhattan, Dahlmann then headed south to become executive chef at Palm Beach’s prestigious Café L’Europe.

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

And once Jens began wowing foodies in Florida, it wasn’t all that long ’til the Mouse came a-calling. Mickey wanted Dahlmann to shake things up in the kitchen over at WDW’s Flying Fish Café. And he did such a good job with that Disney’s Boardwalk eatery the next thing Jens knew, he was then being asked to work his magic with the menu at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.

From there, Dahlmann had a relatively meteoric rise at the Mouse House. Once he became Epcot’s Food & Beverage general manager, it was only a matter of time before he wound up as the executive chef in charge of this theme park’s annual International Food & Wine Festival. Which – under Jens’ guidance – experienced some truly explosive growth.

“When I took on Food & Wine, that festival was only 35 days long and had gross revenues of just $5.5 million. When I left Disney in 2016, Food & Wine was now over 50 days long and that festival had gross revenues of $22 million,” Dahlmann admitted during a recent sit-down. “I honestly loved those 13 years I spent at Disney. When I was working there, I learned so much because I was really cooking for America.”

And it was exactly that sort of experience & expertise that Darden wanted to tap into when they lured Jens away from Mickey last year to become LongHorn Steakhouse’s new Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef. But today … Well, Dahlmann is offering tips to those of us who are thinking about cooking steak tips for the Fourth.

Photo by Jim Hill

“When you’re planning on grilling this holiday, if you’re looking for a successful result, the obvious place to start is with the quality of the meat you plan on cooking for your friends & family. If you want the best results here, don’t be cheap when you go shopping. Spend the money necessary for a fresh filet or a New York strip. Better yet a Ribeye, a nice thick one with good marbling. Because when you look at the marbling on a steak, that’s where all the flavor happens,” Jens explained. “That said, you always have to remember that — the higher you go with the quality of your meat — the less time you’re going to want that piece of meat to spend on the grill.”

And speaking of cooking … Before you even get started here, Jens suggests that you first take the time to check over all of your grilling equipment. Making sure that the grill itself is first scraped clean & then properly oiled before you then turn up the heat.

“If you’re working with a dirty grill, when you go to turn your meat, it may wind up sticking to the grill. Or maybe those spices that you’ve just so carefully coated your steak with will wind up sticking to the grill, rather than your meat,” Dahlmann continued. “Which is why it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes prior to firing up your grill properly cleaning & oiling it.”

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of heat … Again, before you officially get started grilling here, Jens says that it’s crucial to check your temperature gauges. Make sure that your char grill is set at 550 (so that it can then properly handle the thicker cuts of meat) and your flattop is set at 425 (so it can properly sear thinner pieces of meat).

Okay. Once you’ve bought the right cuts of quality meat, properly cleaned & oiled your grill, and then made sure that everything’s set at the right temperature (“If you can only stand to hold your hand directly over the grill for two or three seconds, that’s the right amount of heat,” Dahlmann said), it’s now time to season your steaks.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold here. You can’t be shy when it comes to seasoning your meat. You want to give it a nice coating. Largely because — if you’re using a char grill — a lot of that seasoning is just going to fall off anyway,” Jens stated. “It’s up to you to decide what sort of seasoning you want to use here. Even just some salt & pepper will enhance a steak’s flavor.”

Then – according to Dahlmann – comes the really tough part. Which is placing your meat on the grill and then fighting the urge to flip it too early or too often.

“The biggest mistake that a lot of amateur cooks make is that they flip the steak too many times. The real key to a well-cooked piece of meat is just let it be, “Jens insisted. “Of course, if you’re serving different cuts of meat at your Fourth of July feast, you always want to put your biggest thickest steak on the grill first. If you’re also cooking a New York Strip, you want to put that one on a few minutes later. But after that, just let the grill do its job and flip your meat a total of three or four times, once every three minutes or so.”

Of course, the last thing you want to do is overcook a quality piece of meat. Which is why Dahlmann suggests that – when it comes to grilling steaks – if you’re going to err, err on the side of undercooking.

“You can always put a piece of meat back on the grill if it’s slightly undercooked. When you over-cook something, all you can do then is start over with a brand-new piece of meat,” Jens said. “Just be sure that you’re using the correct cut of meat for the cooking result you’re aiming for. If someone wants a rare or medium rare steak, you should go with a thicker cut of steak. If one of your guests wants their steak cooked medium or well, it’s best to start with a thinner cut of meat.”

Photo by Jim Hill

As you can see, the folks at Longhorn take grilling steaks seriously. How seriously? Just last week at Darden Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, seven of these brand’s top grill masters (who – after weeks of regional competitions – had been culled from the 491 restaurants that make up this chain) competed for a $10,000 prize in the Company’s second annual Steak Master Series. And Dahlmann was one of the people who stood in Darden’s test kitchens, watching like a hawk as each of the contestants struggled to prepare six different dishes in just 20 minutes according to Longhorn Steakhouse‘s exacting standards.

“I love that Darden does this. Recognizing the best of the best who work this restaurant,” Jens concluded. “We have a lot of people here who are incredibly knowledgeable & passionate when it comes to grilling.”

Speaking of which … If today’s story doesn’t include the exact piece of info that you need to properly grill that T-bone, just whip out your iPhone & text GRILL to 55702. Or – better yet – visit  ExpertGriller.com prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers is a sincere if somewhat surreal way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont

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Some people travel halfway ‘around the planet so that they can then experience the excitement of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. If you’re more of a Slow Living enthusiast (as I am), then perhaps you should amble to Brattleboro, VT. Where – over the first weekend in June – you can then join a herd of cow enthusiasts at the annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Now in its 16th year, this three-day long event typically gets underway on Friday night in June with a combination block party / gallery walk. But then – come Saturday morning – Main Street in Brattleboro is lined with thousands of bovine fans.

Photo by Jim Hill

They’ve staked out primo viewing spots and set up camp chairs hours ahead of time. Just so these folks can then have a front row seat as this year’s crop of calves (which all come from local farms & 4-H clubs) are paraded through the streets.

Photo by Jim Hill

Viewed from curbside, Strolling of the Heifers is kind of this weird melding of a sincere small town celebration and Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade. Meaning that – for every entry that actually acknowledged this year’s theme (i.e. “Dance to the Moosic”) — …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something completely random, like this parade’s synchronized shopping cart unit.

Photo by Jim Hill

And for every piece of authentic Americana (EX: That collection of antique John Deere tractors that came chugging through the city) …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something silly. Like – say – a woman dressed as a Holstein pushing a baby stroller through the streets. And riding in that stroller was a pig dressed in a tutu.

Photo by Jim Hill

And given that this event was being staged in the Green Mountain State & all … Well, does it really surprise you to learn that — among the groups that marched in this year’s Strolling of the Heifers – was a group of eco-friendly folks who, with their  chants of “We’re Number One !,” tried to persuade people along the parade route not to flush the toilet after they pee. Because – as it turns out – urine can be turned into fertilizer.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of fertilizer … At the tail end of the parade, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who were dealing with what came out of the tail end of all those cows.

Photo by Jim Hill

This year’s Strolling of the Heifers concluded at the Brattleboro town common. Where event attendees could then get a closer look at some of the featured units in this year’s parade…

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

But as for the 90+ calves who took part in the 2017 edition of Strolling of the Heifers, once they reached the town common, it was now time for a nosh or a nap.

Photo by Jim Hill

Elsewhere on the common, keeping with this year’s “Dance to the Moosic” theme, various musical groups performed in & around the gazebo throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Jim Hill

While just across the way – keeping with Brattleboro’s tradition of showcasing the various artisans who live & work in the local community – some pretty funky pieces were on display at the Slow Living Exposition.

Photo by Jim Hill

All in all, attending Strolling of the Heifers is a somewhat surreal but still very pleasant way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont. And that’s no bull.

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, that could be a bull. To be honest, what with the wig & all, it’s kind of hard to tell. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sunday, June 4, 2017

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Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick’s Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage

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Let’s at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon – the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food – loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th.

“I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That’s terrific,” Kevin said.

But then when it comes to what many Americans eat & drink on St. Paddy’s Day (i.e., a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Which is then washed down with a mug of green beer) … Well, that’s where Dundon has to draw the line.

Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon displays a traditional Irish loin of bacon with Colcannon potatoes and a Dunbrody Kiss chocolate dessert. Photo by Tom Burton. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Green beer? No real Irishman would be caught dead drinking that stuff,” Kevin insists. “And as for eating corned beef & cabbage … That’s not actually authentic Irish fare either. Bacon and cabbage? Sure. But corned beef & cabbage was something that the Irish only began eating after they’d come to the States to escape the Famine. And even then these Irish-Americans only began serving corned beef & cabbage to their friends & family because they had to make do with the ingredients that were available to them at that time.”

And thus begins the strange tale of how corned beef & cabbage came to be associated with the North American celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Because – according to Dundon – beef just wasn’t all that big a part of the Irish diet back in the 19th century.

To explain: Back in the Old Country, cattle – while they were obviously highly prized for the milk & cheese that they produced – were also beasts of burden. Meaning that they were often used for ploughing the fields or for hauling heavy loads. Which is why – back then — these animals were rarely slaughtered when they were still young & healthy. If anything, land owners liked to put a herd of cattle on display out in one of their pastures because that was then a sign to their neighbors that this farm was prosperous.

“Whereas pork … Well, everybody raised pigs back then. Which is why pork was a staple of the Irish diet rather than beef,” Dundon continued.

So if that’s what people actually ate back in the Old Country, how then did corned beef & cabbage come to be so strongly associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the States.? That largely had to do with where the Irish wound up living after they arrived in the New World.

“When the Irish first arrived in America following the Great Famine, a lot of them wound up living in the inner city right alongside the Germans & the Jews, who were also recent immigrants to the States. And while that farm-fresh pork that the Irish loved wasn’t readily available, there was brisket. Which the Irish could then cure by first covering this piece of meat with corn kernel-sized pieces of rock salt – that’s how it came to be called corned beef. Because of the sizes of the pieces of rock salt that were used in the curing process – and then placing all that in a pot of water with other spices to soak for a few days.”

And as for the cabbage portion of corned beef & cabbage … Well, according to Kevin, in addition to buying their meat from the kosher delis in their neighborhood, the Irish would also frequent the stores that the German community shopped in. Where – thanks to their love of sauerkraut (i.e., pickled cabbage) – there was always a ready supply of cabbage to be had.

“So when you get right down to it, it was the American melting pot that led to corned beef & cabbage being found in the Irish-American cooking pot,” Dundon continued. “Since they couldn’t find or didn’t have easy access to the exact same ingredients that they had back in Ireland, Irish-Americans made do with what they could find in the immediate vicinity. And what they made was admittedly tasty. But it’s not actually authentic Irish fare.”

Mind you, what Kevin serves at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs (which – FYI – Orlando Magazine voted as the area’s best restaurant back in 2014) is nothing if not authentic. Dundon and his team at this acclaimed gastropub pride themselves on making traditional Irish fare and then contemporized it.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Take – for example – what we serve here instead of corned beef & cabbage. Again, because it was pork – rather than beef – that was the true staple of the Irish diet back then, what we offer instead is a loin of bacon that has been glazed with Irish Mist. That then comes with colcannon potatoes. Which is this traditional Irish dish that’s made up of mashed potato that have had some cabbage & bacon mixed through it,” Kevin enthused. “This heavenly ham – that’s what we actually call this traditional Irish dish at Raglan Road, Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – also includes some savory cabbage with a parsley cream sauce as well as a raisin cider jus. It’s simple food. But because of the basic ingredients – and that’s the real secret of Irish cuisine. That our ingredients are so strong – the flavors just pop off the plate.”

Which brings us to the real challenge that Dundon and the Raglan Road team face every day. Making sure that they actually have all of the ingredients necessary to make this traditional-yet-contemporized Irish fare to those folks who frequent this Walt Disney World favorite.

“Take – for example – the fish we serve here. We only used cold water fish. Salmon, mussels and haddock that have been hauled out of the Atlantic, the ocean that America and Ireland share,” Kevin stated. “Not that there’s anything wrong with warm water fish. It’s just that … Well, it doesn’t have the same structure. It’s a softer fish, which doesn’t really fit the parameters of Irish cuisine. And if you’re going to serve authentic food, you have to be this dedicated when it comes to sourcing your ingredients.

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

And if you’re thinking of perhaps trying to serve an authentic Irish meal this year, rather than once again serving corned beef & cabbage at your Saint Patrick’s Day Feast … Well, back in September of last year, Mitchell Beazley published “The Raglan Road Cookbook: Inside America’s Favorite Irish Pub.” This 296-page hardcover not only includes the recipe for Kevin’s Heavenly Ham but also it tells the tale of how this now-world-renown restaurant wound up being built in Orlando.

On the other hand, if you happen to have to the luck of the Irish and are actually down at The Walt Disney World Resort right now, it’s worth noting that Raglan Road is right in the middle of its Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This four day-long event – which includes Irish bands and professional dancers – stretches through Sunday night. And in addition to all that authentic Irish fare that Dundon and his team are cooking up, you also sample the fine selection of beers & cocktails that this establishment’s four distinct antique bars (each of which are more than 130 years old and were imported directly from Ireland) will be serving. Just – As ucht Dé (That’s “For God’s Sake” in Gaelic) – don’t make the mistake of asking the bartender there for a mug of green beer.

“Why would anyone willingly drink something like that?,” Dundon laughed. “I mean, just imagine what their washroom will look like the morning after.”

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 17, 2017

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