Welcome to our final report about Disney Food Blog’s recent trip to Ireland for the #RaglanRoadTrip!
Downtown Disney restaurant.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was sitting down and speaking with Chef Kevin Dundon, who launched Raglan Road.
Today, I’d like to share a bit of that conversation with you.
Interview with Raglan Road’s Chef Kevin Dundon
Let’s talk about the story of Raglan Road. I know that you and your partners have written a book that talks about how it all started. But is there anything that you’d like to expand upon?
KD: Raglan Road was probably one of the most challenging projects to pull off. First, because of its location being in Disney, it had to be family friendly; second, the size of a 600 seat restaurant; third — to get the quality I’m looking for all of the time; and fourth — probably the most important one for me — was sourcing the ingredients. That’s still my biggest challenge, and I’m a stickler for it. But we’ve succeeded. We’ve got great suppliers at Raglan.
But the other thing that really makes it what it is — is my passion for food. My belief in being consistent. I think it’s so important that we maintain that Ethos of Irish food.
DFB: So, let’s talk a little bit about this experience, bringing homecooks to Ireland. Why this 10th anniversary contest?
KD: Ten years is a milestone. We wanted to celebrate that, and we have a lot of loyal customers at Raglan Road. So we asked, “How can we involve them in this tenth birthday?” And Paul [Nolan, one of Raglan Road’s partners] the genius [behind the idea], suggested doing a Master Chef Competition. And it came together from there — choose five winners, and bring them to Ireland, along with five bloggers to document the whole trip. So it comes back to our message, our Ethos — in terms of our beliefs, where we source food, how important it is for us, and how important it is for people to see how Irish food has progressed. Raglan Road isn’t just a myth. It’s not something that John [Cooke], Paul, and I made up. It’s actually authentically Irish. It’s totally true and honest.
DFB: Let’s turn our attention to the contest itself and the recipes that the finalists created. We’ve talked about the fact that the recipes served as inspiration for the tenth anniversary private celebration menu. Is there any plan to share them in other ways?
KD: I’m so impressed with the ideas. There were many elements of their menus that I really liked. So I looked at their ideas, and I took inspiration from them. Because it’s important that they’re very much involved in the menu, but it’s also a case of respecting our Ethos. And I saw how each course evolved into something spectacular. So I’m actually contemplating using some of the elements for both the private and Signature Dinners this October.
DFB: Will everyone have a chance to enjoy these dishes? Do you foresee using them in a cookbook or a column?
KD: Yes. Some of the dishes could go onto the Raglan Road menu as specials during the time of our tenth anniversary celebration. And you can expect to see recipes on our Facebook page, on my website, and in our monthly newsletter as well.
DFB: Where do you want to see Raglan Road go from here?
KD: We’ve been there for ten years, and we’ve never sat on our laurels. We’re always upgrading, we’re always thinking of special things. Our ambition in 2015 is to make 10 changes to mark our tenth birthday. We’ve already started rolling them out, with the new cocktail menu. And we’re planning new china, and you’ll see updates to the patio as well.
KD: As far as where it’s going…Raglan Road will always evolve, because that’s its nature. We’re creative people, and it would be very complacent and easy to just sit there and watch it coast. But you see too many restaurants doing that. And they just fall apart. Our goal is to make it just as great always as it has been up to this point.
DFB: Do you think you’ll continue to offer retail and entertainment?
KD: Definitely. Entertainment is a huge part of our business. That’s one of our core passions, and it will never go away. Even when the recession hit, we made a conscious decision to up the music, to up the dancing. Entertainment is going nowhere.
And the celebration of their 10th Anniversary has only just begun. Be sure to stay tuned to the Disney Food Blog and Raglan Road’s website for more information on the Great Irish Hooley coming up in September and more events honoring this milestone in the restaurant’s history!
Is Raglan Road a favorite Disney dining destination for you? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts!
DFB was invited to Ireland by Raglan Road to cover the Master Chef Competition. DFB was not required to write about or promote Raglan Road. You can see more information in our disclosure policy.