Had a fun time chatting with Mark from Disney History 101 at the Hollywood Disney store:



It's this time of the year again. Here are the Disney history books which I feel are the very best of 2017. In no particular order. This has been a very, very good year.

Didier Ghez: They Drew as They Pleased Vol. 3: The Hidden Art of Disney's Late Golden Age published by Chronicle Books; 2017.

Mindy Johnson: Ink and Paint - The Women of Disney Animation published by Disney Editions; 2017.

Don Hahn:Yesterday's Tomorrow: Disney's Magical Mid-Century published by Disney Editions; 2017.

Dave Bossert and David Gerstein: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit - The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons published by Disney Editions; 2017.

Marcy Carriker Smothers: Eat Like Walt: The Wonderful World of Disney Food published by Disney Editions; 2017.

Pierre Lambert: Bambi published by Huginn Muninn; 2017.

Didier Ghez (editor): Walt's People - Volume 19 published by Theme Park Press; 2017.

Didier Ghez (editor): Walt's People - Volume 20 published by Theme Park Press; 2017.

Anderson, Paul F.: Jack of All Trades: Conversations with Disney Legend Ken Anderson published by Theme Park Press; 2017.

Jack Hannah and Jim Korkis: From Donald Duck's Daddy to Disney Legend published by Theme Park Press; 2017.

Jim Korkis: Gremlin Trouble!: The Cursed Roald Dahl Film Disney Never Made published by Theme Park Press; 2017.

Jim Korkis: Call Me Walt: Everything You Never Knew About Walt Disney published by Theme Park Press; 2017.  

Thank you Mouse Info for the review! 

REVIEW: Really, ‘EAT LIKE WALT’ is an absolute must-own for the coffee table of every Disney Fan

Holes smokes, where to begin? EAT LIKE WALT is an absolute must-own for any Disney fan. Yes, that expression is used A LOT but author Marcy Smothers has crafted a coffee table book that I can’t stop thinking about or talking about and I’m so happy I got the chance to have an advanced copy to review.
The book is definitely for Disney Geeks. That fact is validated with a stamp of legitimacy in the form of a foreward by Chief Creative Officer of Pixar, John Lasseter. He talks about his experiences early in his Disney career with eating on the studio lot and more broadly about the impressive work by Smothers to compile all the information in the book.
So what exactly does EAT LIKE WALT cover?
It’s more than just a recap of what the head of the Disney empire liked to eat. Sure, there’s plenty of fantastic history about Walt’s upbringing and how food factored into his life. But the book expands on this concept to cover how food touched Walt’s career life, too.
From the early days in the various Disney Studiolocations to the Commissaryon the Burbank studio lot and then later on at Disneyland, too. There’s even a whole section on just regular California restaurants where Walt often dined. For road-trip prone fans, Smothers even includes addresses and notes about the locations that still exist… so you can get a taste of Disney history for yourself!
Walt was a simple country boy and he had the taste palette to match. The stories compiled — with lots of input from Walt’s late daughter Diane Disney Miller and his granddaughters — give a fantastically candid peek into the private life of a man whose public image is so carefully crafted and curated.
From details about his faithful live-in housekeeper affectionately nicknamed Fou Fou to fun details about Walt’s dining experiences in the parks and beyond, there’s a lot of fun new stories to round out more about the man who started the mouse.
Disneyland is covered quite extensively, as well. Smothers breaks the park down by land and goes over brief histories of every restaurant that was around while Walt was a live. We learn about each location, its menus, and even the various names and theme changes to come to those locations while Walt was alive.
Aside from the fantastic stories and accounts, the book is FILLED with BEAUTIFULLY presented concept art, photography, and images of vintage menus. There’s so much more than I was expecting and of course I wanted so so so much more. Aside from the impressive assortment of visuals to take in, the pages of the book themselves are beautifully designed with gorgeous borders framing all the content.
There’s even an entire index with recipes for everything from Walt’s favorite homemade Chinese Candy Cookies to fan-favorite Monte Cristos and even his favorite cocktail: Scotch Mist. And yes, chili, too!
From the moment I saw the front cover and flipped through the pages, I knew that this would be one of my favorite books and after pouring over each page I can most assuredly say that Marcy Smother’s EAT LIKE WALT is hands-down one of my absolute favorite Disney books. It is absolutely the perfect gift for anyone who loves Disney and its history.

Thank you Didier Ghez and the Disney History Institute for my first review! 

Talk about a book that took me completely by surprise. With a title like this I was expecting a pure "marketing" product. Not so at all. This is an outstanding book, full of never-seen-before illustrations and photographs, and impeccably researched by Marcy Carriker Smothers, an author who clearly cares deeply about her subject matter.

This is a book that will be a pure delight to fans of Walt Disney himself and to Disneyland enthusiasts. I never thought I would say this about a book titled Eat Like Walt, but this is clearly a "must have" for many of us.


“Do not walk through time without leaving worthy evidence of your passage.” - Pope John XXIII

I got the text late that Monday night. Chris wanted tacos. Not just any tacos. Tacos from our truck. The truck where we created our Taco Tuesday tradition. He had been diagnosed with brain cancer a monthbefore and it was encouraging news that he had energy and an appetite. The next morning I gathered the folding table, chairs, tablecloth, wine glasses and flowers - also part of our tradition - to set up in the dirt just off Highway 12 and Dunbar Road. Our motto: Two-dollar tacos with a million dollar view.
When he arrived with our pal Rob, it was evident the disease and treatment were taking its toll. Holding back tears, he took the bottle of wine and said, “What the hell.” He poured himself a full glass and we toasted. I am not sure to what. After ordering three Al Pastor tacos each, his favorite, Sabino (chef and owner of the truck) refused payment. Partly because he was told by Chris’ brother how sick he was, but mostly in deep respect. Sabino had been in a horrible crash the year before and Chris was one of his first visitors in the hospital. He made sure that Sabino and his family had everything they needed through the long recovery.
Christopher was evidence why God gave us two hands. One is meant to reach out and help others. Help others he did. Over and over again.
Less than an hour after we started our lunch, Chris was in pain, restless and ready to go home. Before he got in the car he said, “Marce, this is the last time I am going to see our truck.” I gave him a hug, secured his weary self into the seat, and closed the door. As he pulled away and with my heart broken, I burst into tears. I had no idea until then he wasn’t going to beat the beast.
Christopher was one of the strongest men I knew. Not just physical strength. Strength of conviction. Strength of character. Strength of soul.
The next time I saw Chris was to deliver dinner. I had suggested bone broth for its healing properties, but he balked, smirked really. It took me a few minutes to realize why. Healing wasn’t possible. Thankfully, enjoying good food still was. As I entered the house he greeted me with a kiss on my forehead and a bottle of St. Francis Sauvignon Blanc – classic Chris, the consummate host. Near the end of chemo and radiation, he was markedly weaker and compromised. As I chatted with his cousin and caretaker Delores, he moved around the living room, seemingly unable to get comfortable. Yet he made sure I was, offering a plate of perfectly ripe strawberries and a bottle of water.
I left the osso buco with a set of instructions and a promise to cook more. It turned out that was never needed; it was Chris’ last meal.
Christopher passed away a short time later with his beloved daughter Sydney by his side. She shared that with his last breath, and holding her hand, he lifted his arm - almost in a final salute - tightened his grip… and let go.
Live everyday is obviously not a cliché, yet it somehow slips away. I am determined to honor Chris by embracing the gift of life just as he did: Help others. Work hard and play hard. Thank the workers. Plank until you can’t plank anymore. Frequent the old school Italian joints. Drink the best wine. Be a good and loyal friend even when it’s not convenient. Love your children. Tighten your grip when the going gets tough.
And I’m going to say “what the hell” a heck of a lot more.


Q - What does a dog's toy and an artichoke have in common?
A - They both squeak. A fresh and well-hydrated artichoke will make a soft squeak when the leaves are pressed. If you don't hear a squeak, the artichoke is old, and no amount of butter or aioli will save it.

Chef Steve Rose and I prepare the grilled artichoke recipe from my first book SNACKS: Adventures in Food, Aisle by Aisle on his television show:


Let me say straight away I find the British a kind, fun-loving lot; that’s why the following dust up is particularly grim.

Knackered with jet lag and a 1:30 reservation, we arrived at the appointed restaurant ninety minutes early. When we asked the Maître D if we might be accommodated earlier, he paused just long enough to give us the once over before replying, “Impossible.”

Accommodate: to do a kindness or a favor to; oblige.

Impossible is scoring front row tickets to the championship rugby match, but finding one table in an empty restaurant?

He continued, “Just moments ago two parties rang and booked for a business lunch. They need to be in and out in one hour.” He was subtly chastising us for not calling first. (Agreed. I should have.)

We weren’t looking for a row; we were looking for champagne and a light lunch.  My mate George  - with his impeccable boarding school manners - politely queried if we might sit at one of the empty tables sipping bubbles while we waited.

“No, my staff will be stretched thin taking care of the other parties.”

I’ll tell you what was stretched thin. His lips. From pursing them so tightly.

George made one more valiant attempt, “Really, we don’t mind waiting.”

He wasn’t budging. “No, the chefs will be far too busy cooking for the other guests.”

I could see that this had become a game of cricket. The Maître D was the bat and we were the ball. I asked if he could recommend a restaurant in the neighborhood.

“Well, there is one a few doors down. Or you can come back here at 1:30.” He made both options sound entirely undesirable.

That was enough of a kerfuffle. We retreated to the nearby gastro pub where we were cheerfully served steak pie and fish and chips, even managing to finish by half past one.

A few days later, I took a peek at the menu online to see what may have been offered with little effort and I note that neither the servers nor the cooks had any hand in the Maître D matter:

Selection of Breads with English butter - One must assume that the baker had been in the kitchen early that morning to bake the baps. But yeah, I get it, putting them in the basket and delivering them to the table would be taxing.

Crudité – No need to whip out the peeler and dispense of the carrots’ pesky skin or trim the radishes. This assortment of veg is typically prepped in the morning and placed on a platter ready to be plucked from the fridge.

Soup - I’m pretty sure it takes about ten seconds to ladle pre-made soup into bowls. Bonus points for adding a dollop of crème fraiche.

Champagne – Fair enough. This requires some skill to pop a cork – or three. Oh, and we like the expensive French stuff.

Keep calm and carry on.


It's funny, maybe not so funny, how much I can find to do instead of working - like writing this blog. The vagaries of a home office for starters: The cloth napkins that need to be ironed (not really but I use them every night), memorizing Uptown Funk for karaoke night, rearranging the pleasure books I never make enough time to read.
And the big decisions for the day: What PJs? With a bra or let the Girls go free?
If I'm comfy, am I ready to begin? Work? Write?
The alternative is to go to a public place, somewhere with few distractions, somewhere I feel oddly accountable with strangers around me.
Enter the Stranger. Not really a stranger it turns out - Christina. She remembers me as Nancy, not too far from Marcy. We have mutual friends and soon the conversation turns to why we both come to hipster coffee shops to be productive.
Christina works for a non-profit. I'm writing a book for Disney. We both have home offices that we avoid.
Soon we're discussing how hard it is to get started. So we drink our coffee more slowly, so we don't have to get started.
The Fit Guy at the next table (it wasn't just his physique that told me he was fit, but also the monster watch on his wrist that has GPS and all that macho tech information serious athletes need) interrupts, apologetically, and says that he overheard us and would like to add something: He has a home office and he wears a suit for conference calls. No one will see him, but dressing the part makes him feel business-y. We all nod our heads in agreement.
Our threesome is covering a lot of ground now. No one is working, but we talk a lot about how we work, when we are working, usually never at home. And now, not at the coffee shop.
The irony is not lost on us. We all look awkwardly at our devices. I hear a click or two from Christina's keyboard. Inspired, I tap out a sentence, then another, and suddenly I am writing.