Last month I was treated to a different kind of meal. I ate a tapas-style diner, made entirely from ingredients from McDonald’s, prepared by Chef Stephanie Cmar. Yes, that Stephanie Cmar, executive chef of Fairstead Kitchen, and one half of one of my favorite donut and pop-tart purveyors, Party of Two. She’s also a former contestant at Bravo’s Top Chef.
Top Chef + McDonald’s? I’m in.
I’ve loved McDonald’s since I was a kid. I’ve been fascinated with its locally-adapted menus, which I discovered when I was in high school. I learned then that not all McDonald’s around the world serve fried chicken and rice like they do in the Philippines. The McDonald’s in Japan serve sushi. The ones in India serve vegetarian burgers. But they always have burgers and fries. And vanilla soft-serve, which is my favorite item on the menu. (Close second is the chicken nuggets.)
Somewhere between Michael Pollan and the clean eating movement, most of my peers started shunning McDonald’s. They think it’s evil. Food filled with chemicals. It’s not nourishing. But that’s not true. Over the years, McDonald’s have evolved its menu to include healthier options, and this dinner was proof that McDonald’s used fresh and wholesome ingredients. Real food.
Real food which Chef Stephanie turned into little gourmet plates.
Our dinner was held at Fairstead Kitchen in Brookline. It was my first time there, but it certainly won’t be my last. I loved the décor and I already have my eye on the brunch menu.
We started the night with some mingling and light fare:
A pineapple mango mocktail that is the most delicious mocktail I have ever tasted (and I would gladly forego cocktails in favor of this!)
And of course: a French fry bar. This is a McDonald’s event after all.
We sat down at a long table, and dinner began. First up, Chicken Croquettes with Cilantro Lime Sauce, Cucumber and Peanut Salad, and Wilted Romaine Puree:
Remember my favorite chicken nuggets? They grew up and gained some sass.
Next, French Fry Gnocchi with Sausage and Beef Bolognese:
This was excellent. Really meaty well-seasoned, I could’ve polished off another plate.
And then, my favorite part of any meal: dessert! We had Homemade Donuts with Cranberry and Salted Caramel:
The donut was perfectly fluffy, and I loved the contrast of the salty-sweet caramel glaze and the sweet-tart cranberry drizzle.
I spent the evening with friends, laughing and eating, just like all the other times I frequented McDonald’s when I was younger. I don’t eat at McDonald’s as often as I used to but I’ll always have a soft spot for the golden arches.
Thank you to Stephanie Cmar and McDonald’s New England for letting me experience McDonald’s food in a different light, and reminding me of all my happy meals there over the years!
All photos were taken by my talented friend, Debbie Grubstein (check out her blog!)
This post was sponsored by McDonald’s. Thank you for supporting Confessions of a Chocoholic and the brands that support this blog.