When I received an invite to McDonald’s Chef Event, I was so intrigued I instantly blocked off my calendar for last Thursday. The invite was simple yet detailed. Four chefs would be preparing a gourmet experience for attendees, comprised of McDonald’s ingredients.
I arrived to Three Sixty° where attendees were greeted in the lobby by platters of two cocktails – one a mojito, the other, a bacon old fashioned. (I later learned both did also incorporate McD’s ingredients – like their mango pineapple smoothie and their applewood bacon.) On the main floor of the event space, there were a couple of bars and servers carrying around small boxes of, what else, McDonald’s french fries.
We were seated at tables once the meal portion began, where we were greeted by senior execs from McDonald’s. Before the chefs were introduced, McD’s made its big announcement – more fruits and veggies are coming. Soon, you’ll be able to get a salad with combo meals, and there will soon be more fruits and veggies on the menu overall.
The tables themselves were decorated by the perfect take home souvenir – a Big Mac-aroon – almost too pretty to eat. Though the invite had mentioned small plates, the courses which arrived were much larger than what you would see as a part of a tasting menu. It was hard to believe that what we enjoyed through the rest of the evening was made from items from the McD’s pantry!
First up was the appetizer, prepared by Chef Dale Talde. This was a fun course for me, being such a fan of and regular at his Park Slope roadside bar, Pork Slope. He prepared Kung Pao Chicken, which featured McDonald’s chicken nuggets, sweet and sour sauce, red wine vinegar, peanuts, and iceberg lettuce. I’ll be honest – I have never been a huge fan of McD’s chicken nuggets, not now, and not even when I was six years old. This dish though? Was amazing. It was flavorful. It was something you’d expect to see in a fancy restaurant. I think it was once this came out that I really realized the meal that was going to follow was going to be unique.
Next was the first of two entrees, and this course was prepared by Chef James Tahhan. He served a Tortilla Espanola with Garlic & Saffron Aioli, which featured McDonald’s hash browns, eggs, onions. It was served with an apple & cucumber Salad, which featured McDonald’s apple slices, cucumbers, red onions, chili lime tortilla chips, fresh limes, spring mix, chipotle BBQ, and honey mustard sauces.
Third was the second of the entrees, this one prepared by Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr. He prepared a BOLD BBQ Chicken, which featured McDonald’s crispy chicken, hash browns, chipotle BBQ sauce, espresso, cheddar jack cheese, onions, eggs, and applewood smoked bacon. I really enjoyed the mix of hash browns, espresso and bacon in this dish. Not only was it a fabulous mix of flavors, but it incorporated ingredients from every meal of the day on McD’s menu. Genius.
Next was the third of the entrees prepared by Chef Jessica Foust, a registered dietician on staff at McDonald’s. This entree was Slow-cooked Beef with Blueberry Pomegranate Sauce and Mac Fry Gnocchi. I had to read the menu to see that yes, the meat in this dish was in fact the 100% beef used in ground form for their hamburger patties! The fish also featured McDonald’s French fries, eggs, and blueberry pomegranate smoothie base.
For the grand finale dessert, also prepared by Chef Jessica Foust, was a Pumpkin Spice Biznut (Biscuit-Donut). This course featured McDonald’s biscuit mix, pumpkin spice latte syrup, praline topping, cream cheese, and whipped cream. I think out of everything, it was this dish I was most sad I wouldn’t be able go out and purchase at another point in the future. It was so flavorful, and a fun take on the current pastry hybrid craze that’s sweeping NYC as of late.
Thanks again to McDonald’s to having me for such a wonderful event. I’m curious to see what’s in store for those menu changes in the future. I’ll have to make it over soon to give that McCafe Pumpkin Spice Latte I was reading more about today a try!