You see, the recipes I share with you here on A Beautiful Bite represent how my family eats ninety percent of the time. The other ten percent? Yeah, I’m totally fine picking up something to eat.
I do have four kids. Four kids who enjoy a Big Mac, french fries and Chicken McNuggets every now and again. Life is about balance. And I’m totally fine with letting the kids indulge in some of their McD’s favorites occasionally because truth be told, Mama has a few McD’s favorites too.
And what might my favorites be? Shamrock Shakes and their World Famous Fries. Preferably together. I’m on a crusade to get the Shamrock Shake permanently on the menu. This once a year business is killing me. Oh, and I also want to get the Egg McMuffin on the menu all day long. I’ll keep bugging them until I get that to happen.
Over the years McDonald’s has made some significant changes by adding lots of healthier options to their menu. Salads, fruit, yogurt, whole grains and low fat milk which really helps a mom like me feel better about taking a night off from cooking.
I originally noticed the changes about three years ago when McDonald’s introduced hot oatmeal to their menu. I was so pleased with that product (both in taste and cost) that I wrote about it on Melanie In The Middle which started a dialogue between myself and the McDonald’s brand.
That relationship has deepened over the years and I’m now a member of their Family Arches Community which is a place where parents can talk about their concerns and suggestions about the menu.
And it’s because of that relationship that I was invited to their 2013 Chef Event that was held in New York City last week. An event that featured celebrity chefs creating gourmet meals from McDonald’s menu items. It was an evening of culinary creativity and a celebration of all things McDonald’s.
Our evening started with an applewood bacon old-fashioned and I think it could’ve been just perfect if they did nothing else that entire evening. I mean a PIECE OF BACON in an old-fashioned? Brilliant!
Smoky with a hint of sweet and a butt kicking amount of booze. This drink was strong and I nursed it through the night. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to remember any of the evening for this post. And that would’ve been a tragedy because it was an incredible night.
Our first course was prepared by Chef Dale Talde, a two time cheftestant on Bravo’s Top Chef. He made a version of Kung Pao Chicken with Chicken McNuggets. A little spicy and a little sweet and a lot gone by the time I was done with it. I resisted the urge to lick the plate.
Our next course was prepared by Chef James Tahhan who can be seen on Telemundo’s Un Nuevo Dia and Utilisima’s Puro Chef. He prepared a Tortilla Española with Garlic and Saffron Aioli featuring McDonald’s Hashbrowns, eggs and onions.
I think this dish was my favorite. There was so much flavor and wonderful texture to this dish. I just might have to pick up some McDonald’s hashbrowns and recreate this at home.
In total there were five courses, but after awhile I stopped taking pictures because I was too busy eating incredible food. Sorry, my belly got the best of me.
After dinner was over, I had the chance to meet the chefs and even had the chance to interview one of them…
Here I am with Chef Dan, McDonald’s Executive Chef. I actually got to sit next to this amazing man for the evening and if there was ever a time to pitch the year round Shamrock Shake thing, I totally blew my chance. I blame it on the old-fashioned.
Chef Dan knows a thing or two about food. He graduated in the top of his class from the Culinary Institute of America and went on to become the Executive Sous Chef at Dallas’ Café Pacific and Chef de Cuisine at The Four Seasons. He’s been with McDonald’s since 2004 and has been working his magic ever since.
I had the chance to chat with Chef Aaron who told me that he was influenced by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. Two of my own idols. And I was quite amused that he learned how to cook using his sister’s Easy Bake Oven.
He was seven years old when he was bitten by the cooking bug and one of his first dishes he made was an appetizer using Ritz crackers which he served to his parents. His cooking has greatly evolved since.
Oh dear, where do I begin explaining this picture? It certainly requires some explaining. This is Chef James. He was born in Venezuela and is a wildly respected chef both in the U.S. and in Latin America. I asked if I could have my picture taken with him and he said sure, grabbed me by the waist and dipped me. There was no time to protest. And I don’t even think it’s legal to protest to a celebrity chef dipping you.
I would be remiss to not mention one of my favorite McDonald’s chefs, Chef Jessica. And while I don’t have a one on one picture with her, I do have her beautiful Big Mac macaron to show you. How incredible is that?
Chef Jessica is a registered dietitian and responsible for helping expand the healthful options that are appearing on the McDonald’s menu. I’ve had the chance to see her in action and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I respect her work.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I’m really happy to see the nutritional changes that McDonald’s has been making. I’m very excited that they are going to roll out the option to have a side salad instead of fries on the Extra Value Menu beginning in early 2014.
And while I’ll probably stick to the fries because that’s my treat when I go out to McD’s, I appreciate that they are concerned about giving consumers the choice. The choice to indulge or the choice to eat right.
Now if I could just get that Egg McMuffin and Shamrock Shake on the menu 24/7…