Chef Q&A: Mark O’Neill, Raglan Road

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Mark O’Neill is Executive Chef at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant in Disney Springs.

What cuisine is your specialty? Our cuisine is full authentic Irish, and we like to do a lot of twists on traditional Irish dishes. We source fresh-caught fish and shellfish from the North Atlantic waters, just as chefs in Ireland do, and we’ve recently introduced some new dishes with the flavors of my Irish home. At Raglan Road, some of our most popular dishes are the beer-battered fish and chips and our new take on shepherd’s pie – we’re calling it Shepherd’s To Die For Pie — featuring an Irish peat-smoked mashed potato atop braised and pulled beef and lamb with root vegetables in a rich red wine jus. We have some great shareables, too, like the Irish Farmhouse Board of Loveliness with Guinness cheddar, Irish Whiskey cheddar and Cashel bleu cheeses, an Irish egg, cured beef, pickled veggies and house-made soda bread with apricot chutney.  Of course, we’re a gastropub, and we have quite an extensive menu of craft beers and cocktails, Irish coffees and, of course, Guinness, that pair well with our shareable starters, entrees and desserts.

What’s your favorite local restaurant other than your own? That would have to be The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park.  They do extremely good food at a high standard, and the menu is very interesting.

What’s your go-to meal at home? Wild mushroom and sauerkraut pierogi – the kids love to make them, and my wife is Polish, so we make them very often as a family. I also like to cook up a quick and tasty pasta dish or a smoked sausage ratatouille.

Where do you shop locally for interesting ingredients? I like Farmacy in Winter Garden, which works with local farmers to find the freshest organic produce, eggs, milk and meats.  And my wife soon discovered the Winter Garden Farmers Market on Saturdays, where good ingredients are grown locally.

Which kitchen gadget could you not live without? My stone sharpener.  Many people would throw away their knife and buy a new one. I have a Japanese stone that I use regularly to put the edge back on my knives to keep them like brand new.

What was your favorite bagged lunch as a kid? To be honest I went to a school in Ireland where we had a full canteen with chefs working in the kitchen, so we were spoiled for choice, and they changed dishes daily – menu items included cottage pie, bacon and cabbage, roast chicken, etc. My own kids enjoy taking school bagged lunches with a banana, apple and a cheese or ham sandwich.

What’s your most guilty junk-food pleasure? That would have to be my favorite food from the chipper back home after a few pints: battered sausage and freshly cooked chips (you call them fries) made me happy.

What 3 things are in your fridge at all times? I always have butter, milk and meat – chicken breasts especially.  The three life essentials for multiple uses.

Is there anything else about yourself you’d like to share? I’m just your average family man.  I love everything about food, and I have a strong interest in sports, especially soccer, rugby and Formula 1 racing.

 

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