What was your culinary education and experience before coming to McDonald’s?
I was front of the house from the age of 15, working directly with customers. At 21, I went to culinary school – Johnson & Wales University – and transitioned to the kitchen as the Sous Chef in a fine dining restaurant in Charleston, SC. After graduation I moved to Atlanta and took on the same role in a similar setting. From there I stayed in the kitchen while I went back to school to get my Bachelor’s degree. I then became a Chef Instructor at The Art Institute of Atlanta teaching American Regional and International cuisines, among other classes. I taught for seven years and, in that last year, I started my Master’s degree in Food Science, which allowed me to blend culinary expertise with research and development. For seven years prior to joining McDonald’s I was a food scientist and Corporate Executive Chef at both Pilgrim’s/JBS and Wayne Farms. I have been actively involved with the American Culinary Federation and Research Chefs Association for the past 17 years and hold certifications of Certified Culinary Educator, Certified Sous Chef and Certified Culinary Scientist.
What is your food philosophy?
Life is too short to not have wonderful food.
Finish these sentences:
1. I love being a chef because... how cool is it that you are allowed to play with your food all day?
2. Being a chef at McDonald’s is... an awesome experience because of the customers’ lives that we affect by the decisions that we make.
3. If I wasn’t a chef, I would probably be... a food scientist.
What is a day-in-the-life of a chef at McDonald’s?
Excellent time management skills are required because we have food cuttings, sensory panels, work sessions, idea sessions, conference calls, meetings, focus groups, and I also travel to suppliers. I spend time in McDonald's-brand restaurants conducting operations tests and visiting restaurant teams and owner/operators regarding our food.
McDonald’s is making changes to the menu. What are you most excited about?
Everything! I am incredibly proud of the changes that we delivered in the past year – the return of the iconic Egg McMuffin recipe, cooking with real butter, and the introduction of All Day Breakfast. The biggest change that I am excited about is everything we are doing to improve our burgers.
What is the most common question you’re asked when people find out you are a chef at McDonald’s?
It’s not a question, it is a statement, and that is that I must have the coolest job – I do!
What's your long-term goal for the McDonald's menu?
Continue to create delicious food that our current customers will love, and that will bring in lots and lots of new customers.
What is your favorite McDonald’s menu item?
Buttermilk Crispy Chicken – my team created it and it is delicious! However, our World Famous French Fries cannot be beat and I LOVE the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Double Cheeseburger and Big Mac. And who doesn’t like our Iced Tea?
What do you enjoy cooking for your family and friends?
Everything. I grill almost every night. If you asked my six-year-old daughter what she would like me to cook the answer would be a toss-up between lamb chops and duck breast – does that tell you anything?