The Culinary Skills of Chef Kevin Dundon at Raglan Road Orlando

Getting ready for St. Paddy’s Day at Raglan Road

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in Downtown Disney are always something special. Apart from the celebrations on the big day, March 17th, there lots of other fun things going on.

One of my favorites is watching Chef Kevin Dundon work his audience while he prepares several fantastic courses. This year, the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations launched with a Culinary Demonstration Luncheon with Master Chef Kevin which I share with you now.

Darne of Hickory Smoked Irish Salmon

Smoked Irish Salmon

The first course was a Darne of Hickory Smoked Irish Salmon served warm on buttered leeks with mead cream reduction. You can watch Chef Kevin have some fun with his audience while preparing this dish and then you can wish you had been there as you see the finished dish as it was presented to the diners! Watch the video.

Then we were treated to one of my huge favorites at Raglan Road – Espresso of Roasted Tomato & Gin Soup. While I still enjoyed the soup tremendously, I’m not so sure I can order it too often any more. When Chef Kevin says he’s adding a little butter, he doesn’t really mean a little butter!

Tomato & Gin Soup

Roasted Tomato & Gin Soup

Loin of Traditional Irish Bacon

Loin of Traditional Irish Bacon

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main course was Loin of Traditional Bacon with Irish Mist Glaze served on Colcannon Potato with a parsley cream sauce and raisin cider jus. It has to be, hands down, the absolute BEST bacon I have ever tasted! The dish was SO good I bought the recipe book afterwards so I could try it myself at home. The Colcannon potato reminded me of my childhood Sunday dinners in Dublin as it was a favorite of my Dads.

Jam Jar of Rhubarb Jelly Pannacotta

Rhubarb Jelly Pannacotta

And just when I thought I couldn’t possibly put another morsel in my mouth, Chef Kevin proceeded to wow us with a Jam Jar of Rhubarb Jelly Pannacotta. Rhubarb is another childhood favorite of mine – it grew wild (and I mean big and wild!) in our back garden in Dublin.

Desert was helped down the gullet with a heavenly Irish Coffee.  All in all, quite a wonderful way to while away an afternoon in Orlando! Fantastic food, an entertaining chef and some good company. Thank you Deb (AllEars.net) for being my lunch companion!

 

 

Where will the Force take you?

Star Tours 3D Ride

I was at a networking event last week at Disney where we were given a sneak peek at the new 3D Star Tours ride… and the marketing thereof!  In true Disney style, they have outdone themselves in updating this ride and taking the customer experience to an absolutely new level!

Instead of one ride which takes the same route all the time, this new ride has six (yes, SIX!) different possibilities on where you can go, and the ride to and through each of these places can be different in so many ways – from the characters that ride with you, to the storyline that you are in!

It got me thinking about how similar our own marketing journeys can be each and every day.  With all of the marketing tools available to us these days – both offline and online – our choices and possible combinations of those choices are endless!  While that may sound fantastic, it also poses a bit of dilemma.  How to choose which tools will work best for us and not get caught up in the act of trying each new shiny toy that happens along?

Star Tours Journeys

How about we define what our own Six destinations are, and then systematically add elements to each as we go forward? Then with trying, testing, tracking and adjusting we can come up with the best scenarios for our particular business.

Destination 1:  Email Marketing

An integral part of any marketing campaign, email is still one of the most powerful mediums we can use. The elements you choose to get to this destination are many and varied – Constant Contact, Infusionsoft, Vertical Response, AWeber – to name but a few of the available options.  I would recommend using one of these or a similar service so that you get the most out of your email marketing.  Keeping a track of who receives which email when; who opens; who clicks on links; who forwards to friends – all of this information is invaluable in getting to know your customers.

The look and feel of your emails should match those on your website, in your storefront, on your delivery vans – wherever you have a presence. Keeping your “brand” intact in your emails just makes sense. With this in mind, the choices to make here should be pretty easy!

Destination 2:  Facebook Marketing

Having a Facebook page for your business is choice that should be made. Not only because it is free to create and maintain such a page that can engage with your customers, if used correctly it can also boost your SEO strategies and brand awareness.

The choices within the Facebook environment are many – from Facebook Ads, to contests, to comments on relevant pages for other businesses. Knowing what you want to get from your Facebook page will help you decide which options to try and track their effectiveness for your business.

Destination 3:  Twitter Marketing

Although Facebook receives by far the most attention in the social media marketing world, Twitter is also a fantastic place to engage with people and build a community. Any community that shares common likes or dislikes can be hugely beneficial to a business.

Like Facebook, you have to try things in the Twitterverse to see what works for you. Look at what others are doing, and not specifically in your industry. Often looking outside your own environment introduces you to things you many never have applied to your business. Twitter is a great platform for this.

Destination 4:  Direct Marketing

In times of recession, marketing is usually (and incorrectly!) the first thing to suffer.  Business owners see immediate cost benefit by cutting marketing but oftentimes do not see the longterm negatives associated with this.  Direct mail, for example, is ripe for strong returns right now because not many people are continuing to invest in it.  Think about your own mailbox and how few marketing pieces you get anymore.

Adding a simple postcard mailing to an existing marketing campaign could boost your marketing efforts enormously. Do something a little different to most and you will stand out and be seen. Your choices here are huge. Investigate, choose and implement something in direct marketing.

Destination 5:  Referrals

You have already spent a considerable amount of time and money on getting customers to your business. Most of those customers are happy, satisfied or content with their purchase. Use these positive emotions to get your customers to refer you to their circle. Do not be afraid to ask for a referral, most customers are happy to do it.  In this age of “social”, a friend’s recommendation can go a LONG way!

Destination 6:  Newsletters

As mentioned above, a lot of time and money is expended in getting customers in the first place. Once you have them, you should consider them as life-long friends and communicate with them as such. A monthly newsletter, whether in email or print form, is an absolute must and an extremely easy way to do this. Make it interesting and fun, with subliminal marketing messages and perhaps one offer, and it will get read.

Stay in the forefront of your customers’ minds by sending them some form of marketing message or communication at least monthly. Depending on your customers, you could make it weekly. Again, the choice is yours.

The Journey

There is one major difference between the Star Tours ride and our marketing journeys – no matter which scenario the ride takes you on, you’re bound to enjoy it and have some fun, so you don’t really care which one you experience – if we don’t track the results of our marketing choices, we’ll never know for sure if we have enjoyed the ultimate benefit of the ride – profit!

So, as you journey through the myriad marketing landscapes that are possible, ask yourself how you can be the Force that can be with you as you make that journey each and every day.  Where will the Force take you?

Where will the Force take you?

Nurse Jackie’s 6 Steps to a Healthy Social Media Plan

Boost your social media efforts

Nurse Jackie will give your Social Media a Booster Shot!

I’ve been speaking a lot  lately to people about social media for their businesses and the same issues keep cropping up – either they have added all kinds of social media connections to their website or blog and are frustrated by the lack of “something” that they can’t really identify, or they haven’t  taken the first step into social media because they just don’t know where to begin.  Either way, the underlying issue appears to be the pain of their marketing and social media campaigns.

The clients that I am currently assisting with marketing and social media suffer some of the same pain and we hope that to be very short lived, now that Nurse Jackie is on the case!

Many of my past clients could say the same thing.  The issues that they have been dealing with for such a long time, have been addressed and the pain is gone;

  • systems put in place for communicating with their customers on a very regular basis,
  • fun engagement with customers on Facebook and Twitter,
  • search engine optimization (SEO) in place via various social media tools,
  • a general boost of good feeling to themselves as business owners.

So, ask yourself, how much pain is your marketing or social media causing you each day?  Do you have any idea of what you can do to relieve that pain?  Maybe you do, but you just don’t have the time to implement your solutions? Would you like some relief from that pain?

Nurse Jackie plans to ease that pain for you, by introducing you to the fun and engaging world of social media, one small step at a time.

Take a copy of her report 6 Steps to A Healthy Social Media Plan and use it as your first prescription – to either boost your ailing social media plan or to begin your very first one.

Read it through and contact me with any questions that you have. You can comment below and Nurse Jackie will respond with a personalized prescription for your particular question.

Dancing With The Stars.. and Dining too!

Kevin Dundon at Raglan Road Orlando

Chef Kevin Dundon does his stuff!

Imagine how thrilled I was to receive an invitation for the hubby and myself to attend a Signature Dinner & Wine Event at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Downtown Disney in Orlando!  The executive chef, Kevin Dundon, is a well-known Irish personality and by all accounts, is a Star worth dining with.  Whether he danced or not remained to be seen!

Seated with the entertaining Jeff Houck of the Tampa Tribune and the lovely Katie Machol of the Creative Loafing Blog, myself and Eric Clapton (aka the hubby) thoroughly enjoyed the food, the company and the all-round invigorating evening.  BlackBerry wasn’t something on the menu, but we had them and used them to post photos of the evening and keep our followers informed of the fun.  Social Media has become such a part of [my] life that it’s automatic now to think of who might enjoy a picture or a quick comment on my current experience via Twitter or Facebook.

Before we begin

The little things that make it special

The attention to detail in the set up of the Raglan Room was superb – it was transformed from a very nice dining area to a timeless formal dining room in some famous Historic House in Ireland.  From the candelabra on each table,  to the crisp white linens and sparkling crystal right down to the menu presented with a fresh rose, it gave all indications of a more than wonderful evening ahead.

Rather than make you too entirely jealous and reel off each course that we had,  here’s a link to the menu and some photos of the fabulous fare before we polished it off.  While we enjoyed the fantastic food, wonderful wine and comedic company, the stars came to dance for us.  (Thankfully, none of us diners had to dance with the stars. )  They are really so good at what they do!

Here’s a quick look at what Danielle and Amal dished up for us – I would LOVE to see the contestants on Dancing With The Stars try some of these steps!

I thought there was no way I could eat all that food and survive to tell about it.  But – the portions were perfectly sized so that I could enjoy each of them, without exception!

Chef Kevin Dundon

Chef Kevin Dundon plays with fire

I had to have the lobster Uische Beatha (that’s Gaelic for Whiskey – or the water of life, as it’s commonly referred to!) and it tasted just as good as it looked being flambeed by Chef Kevin.  He looked like he was having way too much fun with the whiskey and the fire!

As we enjoyed our desserts and to-die-for Irish Coffees, Chef Kevin wandered among us posing for photos, signing books and menus and generally having a good time.  It was one of the most enjoyable evenings that my husband and I have ever spent over dinner!

The celebrity branding that Chef Kevin Dundon enjoys is the result of a LOT of hard work on his part.  Next post will be about how he branded himself as a celebrity and what lessons we can learn and use for ourselves.   Here’s a link to a video put together by the folks at Raglan Road Orlando, featuring Chef Kevin and the evening that was such a success!

Jackie T. Ewing meets Chef Kevin Dundon

Jackie meets Chef Kevin Dundon