Huge thanks to Chef Kevin Dundon, TV celebrity chef, restaurateur, and Master Chef of Downtown Disney’s Raglan Road, for taking the time to answer a few questions from the DisneyFoodBlog (especially the one about his 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival appearance this October)!
Be sure to stick around post-interview for an information collage about Chef Dundon’s varied career (he’s a young guy, but he’s had some serious culinary adventures!) along with some fantastic recipes from Raglan Road and his award-winning hotel and restaurant, Dunbrody House.
DisneyFoodBlog: What was your culinary vision for Raglan Road (as an authentic Irish pub); has it changed over the 4 years of the restaurant’s existence?
Chef Dundon: I love Raglan Road, because I take Irish dishes and give them a face lift. I can be very creative there; the menu is always changing, which keeps us up-to-date with fresh and interesting new products and procedures.
DFB: What factors did you take into consideration when creating a menu for a theme park audience? How did this menu construction differ from those you’ve created for other restaurants and projects?
CD: I had to bear in mind that we would be catering for much larger numbers in Raglan Road. And also we, because of our location, get a large number of families. (Because of this, we have been voted in the top 50 in Open Table Family Dining.) Creating a meal experience for the entire family is our main goal, and the emphasis of our food is on fresh, additive-free food.
DFB: What do YOU order when you go to Raglan Road?
CD: I love the gourmet shepard’s pie; or I sometimes think you just can’t beat the fish and chips. Because everything is so good, it is very hard to select a favorite.
DFB: Raglan Road, Orlando, was your second US restaurant. Since then, you’ve launched a third (with more on the way?). What do you enjoy about working and spending time in the US culinary arena?
CD: Yes — we are hoping to open a new restaurant within the next year! I love spreading the word on great food that originates from Ireland and Dunbrody House. I like to educate people of the great fun and sense of enjoyment that can be achieved through food.
DFB: You’ll be the host chef AND celebrity chef for the Culinary Adventure in Signature Dining at Raglan Road at the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival this Fall. Any chance you could share a couple of the dishes the audience will get to taste at that event?
CD: Well, a lot of this is still under wraps at the minute, but I will give you a sneak preview by saying that we will be doing pan-seared Boston scallops and a suckling pig…can’t wait!
DFB: Is there a particular person or a memory that inspired your path in the “food business?”
CD: Yes. A chef called Dario Oterello. He was a Spanish chef, and he really gave me insight into flavoring food appropriately whilst letting the individual flavors stand for themselves.
DFB: Do you think your interest in architecture affects your recipe development and cooking?
CD: Yes; food is all about design, creativity, and putting the right “blocks” together.
DFB: Does your family like to spend time together in the kitchen?
CD: We would cook everyday together! I love to get my kids involved in cooking; it gives a very keen interest in food, which is my passion.
DFB: What’s next up in the queue for you? Any projects coming up that you’re particularly excited about?
CD: Yes, I’m always busy! At the moment, I’m finishing the final stages of preparation on the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival plans. I’m also starting work on my next (third) cookery book to follow on from “Great Family Food.” I’m also looking forward to beginning my own television show.
Chef Dundon’s Accomplishments Reel
Celebrity Chef Kevin Dundon has cooked for many well-known celebrities during his career, including Her Majesty, the Queen; President Bush; and Bono. He has spent time in kitchens all over the world, from Switzerland, to Canada, to the US, and back to Ireland, where he served as the Executive Head Chef of the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, widely recognized as one of the most prestigious Chef appointments in the country.
Today, Chef Dundon is the Chef/Proprietor of Dunbrody Country House Hotel & Restaurant, located in South East Ireland and established in 1997 by Chef Dundon and his wife Catherine. Considered one of Ireland’s Premier Hotels & Restaurants, it has earned many awards, including Andrew Harper’s Grand Award for best Hideaway in the World, Restaurant of the Year, and several Michelin Guide awards.
In addition to his work with Dunbrody House and other projects globally, Chef Dundon continues to film television appearances and documentaries for national and international networks (including The Food Network, ESPN, the Travel Channel, and NBC), write for several culinary magazines and newspaper columns, produce cookbooks (including Full On Irish: Creative Contemporary Cooking, and Great Family Food), and serve as Signature/Master Chef for two other US restaurants in addition to Disney World’s Raglan Road, The Nine Fine Irishmen in Las Vegas, and Raglan Road’s sister restaurant in Kansas City.
When he’s NOT working, Chef Dundon spends time with Catherine and their three kids. The family just put the finishing touches on a brand new home in Ireland (which Chef Dundon’s love of architecture and design keenly inspired).
For more information on how YOU can take master cooking classes with Chef Kevin Dundon, check out the Dunbrody Cookery School.
Also, don’t forget to book NOW (407-WDW-FEST) to attend Chef Dundon’s signature dining experience at the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival: October 13, 2009, 6:15 p.m., Raglan Road at Downtown Disney. Cost: $115
You can follow Chef Dundon on twitter at @ChefDundon.
Just to finish up, here are a few of Chef Dundon’s original recipes from Dunbrody House and Raglan Road! (You can see photos of these scattered throughout the post.)
Duncanon Seafood Chowder
Wild Mushroom Chowder (Eatin’ and Drinkin’)
Beer Battered Cocktail Sausages with Mustard Mayonnaise (Dalkey Duo)
Loin of Ham/Bacon with an Irish Mist Glaze (Kevin’s Heavenly Ham)