Why ‘unique challenge’ took 2 years

Restricted McDonalds menu item Chicken Big Mac

Restricted McDonalds menu item Chicken Big Mac

A sandwich that has graced McDonald’s menus for over four decades has been reimagined in such a way you might have to run to your local franchise to see it for yourself.

Maybe you know the Big Mac. What if instead of beef patties there were two chicken patties between three rolls, lettuce, pickles, cheese and of course Big Mac sauce?

Meet the Chicken Big Mac.

What makes this sandwich even more remarkable? It was founded right in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area by Jeff Anderson, a Culinary Senior Manager at McDonald’s Canada, and his team.

We thought who better to give you a glimpse into the process of creating a McDonald’s menu item than Anderson himself.

For those who are McDonald’s lovers, your job is what dreams are made of. What path led you to your job as Senior Manager of Culinary Innovation at McDonald’s Canada?

Jeff: I trained at the Culinary Institute of Canada and from there worked at a few local fine dining restaurants in Halifax, then for the Hyatt Corporation, the hotel chain while discovering my passion for food and doing something that I felt good about. I was introduced to a unique program at the time – an applied degree in culinary operations, also offered by the Culinary Institute of Canada, which offered more training in unconventional cooking roles. This led me into the world of food product development which led me to Toronto where I worked as a corporate chef for nine and a half years. I worked closely with McDonald’s as a supplier in this role, which eventually led to an opportunity within the company I have now worked with for almost six years.

How much input do you typically have when creating new menu items for McDonald’s?

Jeff: Here at McDonald’s Canada, we constantly listen to our guests and hear their feedback so we can continue to deliver foods we know they love and crave. It’s not just me – we have a menu team here in Canada as well as our consumer insights team and marketing team and our operational partners, so it’s a real group effort to bring items to market. My job and my team’s job is more about playing with food every day, so that’s what makes working as a team fun. We are able to create a lot of fun things and witness the process from a concept to a finished product being launched in our restaurants which makes us very proud.

McDonald’s is sometimes mentioned in outrageous menus of deli items like Ham & Egg Twisty Pasta and Tomato and Mozzarella Envelopes. When working on a new concept, have you ever scrapped an idea because it was too outlandish?

Jeff: We get inspiration from other markets and what they do, and sometimes they are relevant to our market. We know consumers have been hacking our menu for a number of years – most recently we made our dessert hacks that our guests are trying out online on our social channels and are working to get them onto the McDonald’s menu. The Chicken Big Mac is something we’ve heard from our consumers that we’re happy to offer them because they inspired us. In terms of menu items that don’t make it to market, we have items we’re working on that we can’t market yet, so we’re still having fun and exploring them that way.

The Chicken Big Mac took two years to develop. What goes into the development of a new menu item?

Jeff: Each menu item we launch has its own unique challenges. Some are faster than others. With the Chicken Big Mac, we wanted to make sure we stayed true to the Big Mac’s identity, but with that chicken twist in it. We had to make sure we had the right balance, the classic ingredients like tangy pickles, processed cheddar, shredded lettuce, toasted sesame buns, and of course, our iconic Big Mac sauce. It took us some time to achieve this pairing and balance. The sandwich went to 1,400 locations across the country, which comes with delivery and scaling challenges to ensure we deliver a consistent product. We also do tests before we put this on the market. Specifically for the Chicken Big Mac, we tested in the GTA space to understand how the product works with our crew, how it cooks, how it behaves before we feel comfortable taking it to a national launch.

How do you feel now that the Chicken Big Mac is out?

Jeff: Personally, I’ve been to the market and looked at the product and how it’s handled. I’m just so proud to walk into a restaurant and see a product that we’ve put so much time and effort into developing and seeing the joy and excitement on the faces of our crew is something that I consider a benefit of the job. We’re still waiting for public feedback, but I look forward to receiving it.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button