Chef Dan Cookin’ Up Innovative Menus at Hamburger U

Years ago, McDonald’s relied on creative franchisees to concoct new items in the back of their kitchens. Restaurant owners invented the Big Mac, the Egg McMuffin and other favorites. Those days are long gone. Today a chef trained at Culinary Institute of America devises new menu items for the quick serve giant.
The Wall Street Journal (paid sub. req.) has the story.

Mr. Coudreaut borrowed edamame, a type of soybean served in sushi restaurants, to create McDonald’s Asian salad, and he buys experimental ingredients at ethnic groceries. He winnows as many as 1,800 ideas a year down to a handful of items that must be tasty, inexpensive and easy to prepare.
Known at headquarters as “Chef Dan,” the 41-year-old was lured to McDonald’s by a headhunter. “You can impact 250 people a night at the hotel or 26 million [a day] at McDonald’s,” he says. “It’s an easy decision.”
After he arrived, he redesigned the company’s test kitchen with upscale touches like granite countertops. The company made him a white chef’s jacket.
Finding products that work inside a McDonald’s has been tricky. Mr. Coudreaut considered adding a shrimp salad to the menu but couldn’t because, he says, McDonald’s would need to use so much shrimp that it threatened to deplete the nation’s shrimp supply.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.