If you had all the ingredients in a McDonald’s kitchen at your disposal and your only instructions were to “Beat the Big Mac,” what would you make?
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That was the challenge handed to five teams of Butler County Hospitality and Culinary Arts students at a cook off Thursday afternoon at the McDonald’s restaurant at 53rd and Meridian.
Franchisee Lane Enterprises is promoting the 50th birthday of McDonald’s signature sandwich, the Big Mac, which for a limited time is available in three sizes – a smaller Mac Jr., the original, and a massive Grand Mac.
Last week, the store gave away a limited supply of bottled Big Mac Special Sauce. This week, it staged the cook off. I was one of four judges on a panel that also included the students’ instructor, Executive Chef John Michael, as well as Michael Lane and Joe Lane of Lane Enterprises.
The students came up with some pretty impressive dishes, which highlighted flavors from the McDonald's kitchen but tasted nothing like items on the McDonald’s menu. Four of the teams created burgers or sandwiches. One made a decadent chicken sandwich burger hybrid. Two added eggs to their burgers. One even added hash browns.
I was impressed by the “McChanga” that one of the teams created. They stuffed tortillas with bits of burger patties and onion, wrapped it all up and deep fried it in French fry oil and topped it with lettuce and pickles and Special Sauce and oh my. I never would have thought of adding pickles to a chimichanga, but it was amazing.
The winning team, made up of Andrea Cole, AJ Putman and Scott Peggie, assembled a burger they called “The Porker.” They used a quarter pounder patty and topped it with a slice of Canadian bacon, two slices of regular bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles on a McDonald’s artisan bun. They also created a unique sauce by combining Big Mac Special sauce with Tangy BBQ sauce.
The sandwich likely won’t be added to the menu – those decisions aren’t made on a local level – but Joe Lane said he was impressed by the students’ creativity.
“The big takeaway for me is that all of these products today for all of these magnificent burgers and dishes were created in our kitchen that we know and love with our ingredients we use every day,” he said. “Hopefully that helps to continue to dispel notions or thoughts of McDonald’s not being a restaurant or McDonald’s just being a fast-food chain that you go to for late-night eats or cheap treats.”