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Why For wouldn’t J.K. Rowling let Universal Studios build a Harry Potter stunt show?

Jim Hill's back with a semi-coherent answer to this week's big question on the Net: Has the Walt Disney Company actually "wrapped up" the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters?

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No doubt, you've heard this rumor before. It's the story that's been fascinating Disney and Harry Potter fans for the past few weeks. But it was H.C. who did the best job with this question when they wrote in to ask:

Every once in a while, Universal Orlando President Bob Gault holds a "Lunch with Bob" question and answer session. Middle and upper management types sit around and pepper Mr. Gualt with questions regarding various projects and ideas. Mr. Gault responds and then assigns people to follow up on promising suggestions.

On Thursday, July 3rd, Mr. Gault hosted one such question and answer session. The minutes from the meeting were circulated among various personnel at Universal Orlando.

While there were several interesting questions, Gault's answer to one particular inquiry was especially notable.

Question: Has Universal pursued 'Lord of the Rings' or Harry Potter?

Gault's answer: "Disney has Harry Potter wrapped up. We will check into 'Lord of the Rings.'"

Huh?! Disney has Harry Potter "wrapped up"?

Can this be true? Or did Mr. Gault misspeak.

H.C.

Since Mr. Gualt dropped this bombshell 'way back in July, I must have received 50 or more e-mails about Bob's comments. From Harry Potter fans. From Disney theme park fanatics. Even Universal Orlando employees. All of these folks looking for answers to the very same questions:

1) Does the Walt Disney Company actually have the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters "wrapped up?"

2) And if so, when might we expect Walt Disney Imagineering to roll out its very first Harry Potter themed attraction?

Well, I've been on this case since the middle of July, people. Making dozens of phone calls to Glendale, Burbank and Universal City, Hollywood later as I tried to get to the bottom of this story. This (to date) is what I have to report, H.C.:

This much is clear: A few years back, Universal was positively desperate to acquire the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters. So much so that Universal Creative (the folks who actually design all of the rides, shows and attractions for the Universal theme parks) put together a proposal for a Harry Potter-themed stunt show. Which they planned to present to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. With the hope that she might then be won over by their attraction idea, which would result in J.K. awarding Harry Potter's theme park rights to Universal.

The show proposal that Universal Creative put together was reportedly a special effects filled extravaganza, loosely modeled after that theme park's "Wild Wild West" stunt show. This meant that the arena would have been loaded up with practical effects. Cauldrons that would suddenly bubble and smoke, brooms that could actually fly around, etc.

But the real highlight of this proposed "Harry Potter" themed show would have supposedly been the show's finale. Where Harry, Ron and Hermoine found themselves face to face with Lord Voldemort. (Just in case you're wondering: Universal's stunt spectacular wasn't actually supposed to have been based on any specific "Harry Potter" book or movie. But — rather — it was supposed to have been a stand-alone show. Something that would have caught the style and the flavor of Rowling's books and the films without actually duplicating any of them.)

Sometime during this magical duel, Potter was going to get the upper hand in this effects filled battle. And — with a wave of Harry's wand — Voldemort would burst into flames. Fully engulfed in fire, the dark wizard was to have writhed in agony and screamed curses as Potter and his pals as Voldemort slowly sank from sight.

Note that "sinking slowly from sight" while "fully engulfed in flames" part of the show. That sort of pyrotechnic stunt would be extremely difficult for a live human to pull off. Which is why Universal Creative was planning on using an animatronic figure to fill in for the live performer who would be portraying the dark wizard during this particular gag. A robotic Lord Voldemort whose robes would be stuffed with steel wool. Which (I'm told) burns in a truly spectacular fashion whenever it's lit on fire.

So that sounds like a pretty good new show for the Universal theme parks, doesn't it? Well, it's just too bad that Universal Creative never actually got the opportunity to present their proposal to J.K. Rowling. Why for? Because — when they approached Rowling's reps to set up a meeting — Universal was reportedly told "Thanks but no thanks. We've already awarded the theme park rights to someone else."

Now Universal executives — Bob Gault included — have always assumed that the "someone else" that J.K. Rowling's representatives were talking about must have been the Walt Disney Company. Which — given that Universal and Disney are in almost constant competition these days for supremacy in the theme park arena — that just makes sense.

But — in all the conversations that I've had with WDI insiders over the past few weeks — no one (And I mean "NO ONE") was willing to actually go on record and admit that the Walt Disney Company had indeed tied up all of the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters. The closest I ever got to confirmation was a couple of knowing smiles from veteran Imagineers as well as a "Sorry, but that would be telling" from someone in the Studio's legal department.

Now, just because no one I talked with Disney would confirm or deny that the Mouse had "wrapped up" the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters doesn't mean that Mickey HASN'T locked up those rights.

To explain: Historically, the Mouse tends to play these sorts of things very close to their vest. Think back to the 1980s, when WDI was in super secret talks with George Lucas about possibly building some new shows and attractions for Disneyland around his "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" characters. Those negotiations went on for years, with Lucas regularly making trips down to Glendale to view new concepts … and news about those projects never ever leaked out of 1401 Flower Street. (Okay. Admittedly, that was long before the Internet was as omnipresent as it is today. So — back then — it was a hell of a lot easier for WDI to keep its secrets back. But you get what I'm trying to say here, right? Okay. Moving on …)

What's more intriguing (at least to me) is the number of non-Disney characters that Mickey already has under contract for theme park use that WDI has yet to anything with. Which characters, specifically? How about claymation stars Wallace and Gromit (who were once considered as the possible new hosts of Epcot's "Journey into Imagination" ride) as well as celebrities like sitcom vet Tim Allen and basketball star Michael Jordan (who were also — believe it or not — considered as possible replacements for Figment).

So I guess what I'm trying to say here is that — even though Disney may or may not have the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters all "wrapped up" — that still doesn't automatically translate into the Imagineers building a Hogwarts for Anaheim or Orlando anytime soon.

Why the hold-up? Well, to be blunt, J.K. Rowling isn't through puttering around with her Harry Potter characters yet. Let's remember that there are still two books in the series that have yet to be written, much less published. And — as those of us who have already read "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" know — things are very much in flux in the non-Muggle world right now.

WARNING!! OVER THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS, THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME SLIGHT "ORDER OF THE PHOENIX" RELATED SPOILERS WRITTEN ABOUT. SOOOOOO … IF YOU HAVEN'T READ (OR — RATHER — FINISHED READING) THE FIFTH HARRY POTTER BOOK YET … NOW MIGHT BE A GOOD TIME TO JUMP AHEAD TO THE THIRD PARAGRAPH.

Characters that we once thought to just be comic relief (like Neville Longbottom) can grow and become heroic. Likewise, characters that we loved for their sweet and understanding natures can suddenly become quite prickly. I mean, think back to all of the complaints that you heard earlier this summer from Rowling readers who were upset with J.K. for daring to make young Mr. Potter so PO'd during most of "The Order of the Phoenix."

You see what I'm saying here? The "Harry Potter" saga isn't over yet. Not by a long shot, folks. And there's obviously a lot of danger in trying to design theme park attractions around a tale that's still being told. I mean, think how terrible the Imagineers would be feeling right now if they'd poured years of time & effort into building a show around everyone's favorite big black dog. Doing something like that would have had some pretty Sirius repercussions, don't you think?

Anyway … even if Disney really does have the theme park rights for the Harry Potter characters all "wrapped up," the smart money is on Mickey sitting on these rights for a while. For a couple of years, anyway. At least until J.K. Rowling finally finishes up telling her epic tale (and what a sad day THAT's going to be for those of us who have loved reading and/or listening to the "Harry Potter" books. I'm really not ready to leave Hogwarts just yet. Are you?)

But me? Given how cagey the Imagineers that I know are being about all my questions as to whether the Walt Disney Company actually has "wrapped up" the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters, I'm not entirely convinced that what Gault told Universal Orlando employees is true. If the Mouse HAD landed the theme park rights to J.K. Rowling's characters, I have to believe that — given all the Harry Potter fans that there are in WDI — there'd be Imagineers lined up along the rooftops of Flower Street screaming "We got Harry! We got Harry!"

So my apologies, H.C., if this "Why For" response basically amounts to the world's longest "Damned if I know." But I'm just not getting a clear indication out of Imagineering as to whether the Walt Disney Company has actually "wrapped up" the theme park rights to the Harry Potter characters.

Which makes me wonder who this mysterious "someone else" might be. That other theme park-owning corporation which appears to have the rights for J.K. Rowling's characters all "wrapped up."

So again, my apologies if this "Why For" reply raises more questions than it answers. But what did you expect from a Muggle?

(Of course, if some obliging Imagineer wants to come forward with the official word on this subject, I'd be extremely happy to hear from them. Hint, Hint.)

Okay. That's it for this week's "Why For." But please keep in mind that we're still going to have some new stories up on JimHillMedia.com this weekend. Parts III and IV of Jim Korkis' excellent "The History of Comic Books" series. So be sure to drop by JHM on Saturday and Sunday to check those stories out.

Beyond that, have a great weekend, okay?

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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