Raglan Road (In Ireland!): Master Chef Contest Winners Share Their Experiences

If you were following along during our #RaglanRoadTrip coverage, then you know that I recently returned from spending four days in Ireland with the winners of the Raglan Road Master Chef Contest as well as Chef Kevin Dundon.

Winners and Writers at Dunbrody House in Ireland (photo by Raglan Road photographer Ivan Cummins)

Winners and Writers at Dunbrody House in Ireland (photo by Raglan Road photographer Ivan Cummins)

The winners will all contribute a dish to the Raglan Road 10th Anniversary Celebration October! I wanted to get to know our winners a little better, so I asked each of them three simple questions:

What gave you a desire to work with Raglan Road?
What was your first experience with Raglan Road like?
As a home cook, what’s your biggest cooking takeaway from this experience?

Here’s what they had to share with me.


Aaron Von Swearingen had long been a fan of cooking — and Raglan Road. It’s been a favorite spot of his for nearly as long as it’s been around, and he and his family often choose to go there for special occasions.

Aaron Chats with John, Owner of Danescastle Fruit Farm

Aaron Chats with John Mernagh, Owner of Danescastle Fruit Farm

But recently, his passion had taken a different turn: recipe development. So when Aaron heard about the Master Chef contest, he thought the challenge to come up with a three-course meal would be a terrific way to test his new found interest.

And clearly, he rose to the occasion. Following his successful bid to become a Master Chef finalist, Aaron headed to — where else? — Raglan Road to celebrate!

Aaron Getting Tips from John Cook on Filleting Fish

Aaron Getting Tips from John Cook on Filleting Fish

His time in Ireland was, as with other members of the group, transformative. Aaron says that, more than anything, he’s leaving with a clear vision that a simple approach is the best one; focus on simple, great, pure ingredients, and be creative and thoughtful in your presentation. “To know those things, going home, is very freeing,” he summed up.


Like Aaron, Colleen Kerney has a young family and lives in Central Florida. But her motivation for entering the contest was a little different.

Colleen Receives Some Helpful Hints from Chef Julian

Colleen Receives Some Helpful Hints from Chef Julien

Colleen had been in the process of planning a family trip to Ireland, and had even considered leaving at the same time as the contest was planned for. But budgetary constraints led her to reconsider the timing, and she and her family began to earnestly save for a trip some time in the future.

One day recently, she was flipping through a local Central Florida publication when she came across this headline: “Kevin Dundon wants to send YOU to Ireland.” Well. That sounded pretty good to her. And we can say that the rest is history.

Interestingly enough, Colleen hadn’t ever actually dined at Raglan Road, although she was familiar with Chef Kevin because of his cooking show, which airs on PBS. However, she and her extended family celebrated her winning the contest by booking brunch at the Irish Pub.

Oyster Soup, Colleen's Dish

Oyster Soup, Colleen’s Dish

While she enjoyed her time in Ireland immensely and definitely plans to return for that promised family visit in the near future, she also had some fun takeaways from the experience. First and foremost? “Butter makes [Read more…]

Raglan Road (In Ireland!): How Recipes are Born

We are a couple days back from the Raglan Road Master Chef Class in Ireland! And after recovering a bit from the go-go-go pace and jet lag, I’d like to share with you a few more glimpses into my time there.

The Cooking School at Dunbrody House Hotel

The Cooking School at Dunbrody House Hotel

Today, we step into the kitchen to get behind-the-scenes insight into how Chef Kevin Dundon and his team create the recipes that we enjoy on Raglan Road’s menu and during special functions.

Creating the Recipes

If you followed along during our coverage of the #RaglanRoadTrip, then you know that Master Chef contest entrants were tasked with creating a three-course menu that would be featured at Raglan Road’s upcoming tenth anniversary celebration this October.

Sancerre and Irish Butter -- How Could We Go Wrong?

Sancerre and Irish Butter — How Could We Go Wrong?

As it turns out, this exercise set the stage for the curriculum in cooking school this week!

Chef Dundon took each of the finalists’ menus, chose one dish, and refined it. The resulting collaboration turned in five dishes that were at once original and recognizable — but also over-the-top delicious.

Chef Dundon Creates and Heather Takes Notes

Chef Dundon Creates and Heather Takes Notes

Watching the process was interesting in that it gave each of us the chance to see how recipe development for Raglan Road takes place.

Starting with the seed of the finalists’ recipes, Chef Dundon and the finalists experimented with the dishes and tweaked until they were just right. He cooked as the finalists took notes. And at the end of the day, each person tested how well they paid attention by cooking the dish all over again. (They all did great, by the way.)

One of the Dishes -- Flash Fried Oyster Butter Soup with Honey Foam

One of the Winning Dishes — Flash Fried Oyster Butter Soup with Honey Foam

I think the biggest takeaway for all of us was the concept of [Read more…]

News! Raglan Road Master Chef Contest Winners Announced

Word is in — the five winning finalists have been chosen in the Raglan Road Master Chef Contest, sponsored by Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant!

The home cooks were chosen from a very competitive field, according to Raglan Road Master Chef Kevin Dundon. “There were lots of entries, and it was difficult to choose just five winners,” Dundon said. “I was struck by the breadth of recipes that were so creatively demonstrated. I was also really impressed by the level of effort made by all the entrants. I’m looking forward to seeing our five winners at Dunbrody House.”

The five winners are:

  • Janice Epaillard of Mount Dora, Florida
  • Aaron Van Swearingen of Winter Park, Florida
  • Colleen Kerney of Orlando, Florida
  • Heather McBroom Walker of Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Linda Rohr of Darien, Connecticut

Finalists will fly from Orlando on May 21, arriving in Dublin on May 22. They’ll spend the first day of the visit in Ireland’s capital city — taking in sights and touring the Guinness Brewery, before enjoying dinner at the Michelin-Starred restaurant L’Ecrivain. The group will then journey to County Wexford, home of Ireland’s Hook Peninsula, where they’ll spend the rest of the trip at Dundon’s Dunbrody Country House Hotel.

Dunbrody Country House Hotel

Dunbrody Country House Hotel

The luxury hotel, located in an 1830s manor house, is also home to Chef Kevin’s Cookery School. There, the finalists will [Read more…]

Review: “Best of the Fest” at the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Marketplace Booths!

It’s here! The 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival is officially underway!

We’ve been super busy over the last couple of days, taking in low-cost demonstrations and special events. I can’t wait to share all of it with you (FYI: Parisian Breakfast = AWESOME!)!

But first, while opening weekend was a whirlwind of activity, we made it a point to check out every Marketplace Booth and try it all! It’s always our goal to do this so that YOU know which dishes are not-to-be-missed and can plan accordingly.

2013 Best of the Fest Marketplace Booth Dishes

While this “Best of” list started out a lot longer than this, we wanted to give you a breakdown of the cream of the crop — our very favorite dishes so far from the 2013 Marketplace Booths. Some of these are returning from past years, and some are brand new! Let’s go with the Best of the Fest for 2013!

Belgium: Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef

Belgium features three different waffles in their lineup this year — one savory and two sweet. This Potato Leek Waffle comes with Braised Beef that reminds me of Sunday roasts.

Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef

The waffle is delicious by itself — but top it with the braised beef and MELTED BUTTER!!!! and it’s heavenly!

South Korea: Kimchi Dog

We’ve been raving about the South Korea Kimchi Dog since we first sampled it at the preview event for this year’s festival. The Spicy Hot Dog (which is specially made for Epcot just for the festival!) is topped with a fresh Kimchi Slaw and drizzled with a Spicy Mustard Sauce.

Kimchi Dog with Spicy Mustard Sauce

It has a bit of a kick, but it’s [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: September 23, 2012

New Menus!

With the debut of new menus at some of our favorite Disney restaurants, the start of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and even more details about the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, the news has been filled with yummy eats and treats!

Leave us a comment below with your thoughts on the latest news!

Disney Food News

Alrighty! Let’s dig into these new menus and updates, shall we??

We’ve got more food news (including restaurant closure updates, Chase Lounge for Disney Visa cardholders at Food and Wine Festival, Disneyland and Disney World serving Frank & Weenies and Franken-Fusion Lemonade, and LOTS more) on our Disney Food News Pin Board!

Disney Food Blog “Focus on Epcot” Sale!

The 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival starts on FRIDAY, and this coming weekend is also a special celebration for one of our favorite parks — Epcot! So we’re counting down to the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival with fabulous savings on our Epcot eBooks!

This Festival bundle packs together our DFB Mini-Guide to the 2012 Epcot Food & Wine Festival AND the The DFB Mini-Guide to Epcot Snacks for $3 off using code THIRTY.

Find out more about the “Focus on Epcot” Bundle here!

In addition, we are offering a discount on the DFB Mini-Guide to the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival — use code COUNTDOWN to get $3 off this week! Time to get planning if you’re headed to the Festival!

Wondering if the books are any good? Check out our latest reviews!
We’d like to thank Adventures By Daddy for the glowing review – “Like the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival itself, AJ Wolfe’s e-book is comprehensive, but presented in an easy, “digestible” way. The e-book has a gorgeous compendium of photos, and is a great way to experience and relive the festival once you return.”

In addition, we appreciate the positive review given by Running At Disney. “Last year I got the DFB Mini-Guide to the 2012 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival e-Book and it was a life saver! The book features a full, daily schedule of events for each day of the 46-day festival. This level of detail, organized by day, can’t be found anywhere else online or in print.”

Be sure to take advantage of this week’s DFB Deals as we celebrate the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival AND Epcot’s 30th Anniversary! Find out the details here.

On to the Round-Up

Walt Disney World for Grown Ups looks at the benefits of a Tables in Wonderland membership for restaurant savings.

AKL Resort has information about Sundown Mingles for Disney Vacation Club members at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Daveland shows us Walt’s apartment including his mini-kitchenette.

Main Street Gazette shows us the vintage concept for the never-built Scandinavia pavilion in Epcot which would have included a smorgasbord restaurant and sidewalk bakery.

Eating and Drinking Around the World finds a Perry the Platypus sugar cookie pop in Epcot!

The Walt Disney World Restaurant Tour visits the 50’s Prime Time Cafe at Disney’s Hollywood studios.

Disney Parks Blog celebrates Oktoberfest at the Biergarten with an interview with the Epcot musicians.

Guest Review: Epcot Food and “More Than Just” Wine Festival

As we all gear up for the 2012 Food and Wine Festival, welcome Heather Jones with a fun exploration through last year’s events!

I was so excited to experience the Epcot Food and Wine Festival for the first time. But I was thinking that Disney might be doing the festival a disservice by calling it “Food and Wine,” because there are so many more drink choices than just wine.

Don’t get me wrong I love a nice chilled Chardonnay or a spicy Shiraz. But there’s also a huge variety of beer, cocktails, and sake to be had as well. I guess they can’t call it the “Food and Booze Festival.” That wouldn’t sound very Disney!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival Signage

Beer Review

Let’s start with some beer, shall we? Our first stop was the brand new Hawaii booth for the Kalua Pork Slider and the Tuna Poke along with a Kona Longboard and a Pipeline beer.

Kalua Pork Slider

Tuna Poke

The Pipeline is dark and flavorful porter (I just love a dark beer!) and the Longboard is a tasty, light lager that paired well with the Poke.

Kona Long board and Pipeline Beer

Another favorite beer for me was the [Read more…]

Epcot’s Germany Train Town Celebrates the Food and Wine Festival!

The 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival features more than just eats and sips!

We always love when the Germany miniature train town gets into the spirit of the Festival! This year, the miniature Food and Wine Festival Booths are back in action! See mini versions of the World Showcase Australia, Hops and Barley, Greece, Ireland, and Mexico booths!

Overall View of Train Town

The German train town residents are getting into the swing of things with some pitchers of beer and glasses of wine!

Enjoying Ireland and Mexico Booths

And it wouldn’t be the 2011 Food and Wine Festival without an Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog!

Greece Booth and Cranberry Bog

Over by the Australia booth, folks have gathered for [Read more…]

Friday Happy Hour: Craft Beers and Seasonal Ale at Raglan Road

Raglan Road in Disney World’s Downtown Disney area wants to share their passion for beer!

This restaurant and pub offers over 50 types of beer, many of which are imported from Ireland due to an increase in craft beer production. And with the popularity of Craft Beers increasing, Raglan Road is proud to offer new and exciting brews.

For example, stop in to sample the “Home-Grown Organic Beer Flight,” which is made locally by the Orlando Brewing Co. Or try the seasonal Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale, a refreshing brew with a hint of spice flavor.

Pumpkinhead’s awards include a 2008 European Beer Star Silver Medal and 1st Place at the 2007 California Brewers Festival. And since this beer pairs well with fall food, be sure to order one at Raglan Road’s specialty Thanksgiving meal!

You can see the full list of Raglan Roads available brews on their beer menu.

According to Raglan Road, [Read more…]

2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth Prices and Vegetarian Info Starting to Appear

Great news on the Epcot Food and Wine Festival front!

We’re thrilled to see the Marketplace booth menus (with prices!) being posted on the actual booths! Not all of the menus are posted, yet, but we found a few to share with you today! Here’s an example of what the menus look like when they’re posted on the booths.

2011 Hawaii booth menu

Hawaii World Showcase Booth Menu 2011

These menus fill in the gaps about prices for the booth items, what’s vegetarian, and what items you’ll be able to purchase with snack credits this year! Now, you’ll know how much to budget for sipping and eating around World Showcase.

Updated Booth Menus with 2011 Pricing

The following booth menus have been posted in the World Showcase so far this year. Click on the links to see the full menu with pricing, vegetarian items, and snack credit listings.

South Korea

To see all of the marketplace booths being offered at this year’s festival, go to our Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booths and Menus Page.

Watch for more updates this week as we track down the latest Food and Wine news, and see our 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival pages for all of the details and latest news!

2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Brews

Can you have a festival without beer? I think not. At the 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, brews will be available in many locations. Get your thirst quenched at the Craft Beer Booth, Brewer’s Collection, and the Hops and Barley Marketplace. Many individual countries will also be serving up their own beer, and there will likely be beer seminars on the docket in the Festival Center.

That said, many beer enthusiasts are less than thrilled with the offerings at this year’s Festival, mentioning the lack of more obscure and unique craft beers. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Craft Beers will have their own booth at the 2011 Food and Wine Festival

Craft Beer Booth Bar Menu

Full Sail IPA
Sierra Nevada
Abita — Purple Haze
Red Hook Pilsner
Blue Moon
Key West Sunset Ale
Widmer Hefeweizen

Brewer’s Collection Bar Menu

[Read more…]