Chef Dan Coudreaut

“Cook with all your senses – your eyes, your ears, your nose, your sense of touch – not just taste.”

Chef Dan Coudreaut McDonald's Executive Chef and Vice President, Culinary Innovation

What would you like your culinary legacy to be?
He made things better today than they were yesterday. And he did the right thing.

Besides creating recipes for thousands of restaurants, what’s the most challenging part of being a McDonald’s chef?
Listening to our customers and being open to changing your own ideas. 

You’ve been in the culinary world for a while now and have seen food trends come and go. How would you describe the era of food we’re in right now?
It is not a trend – it is certainly not a fad. It is becoming more of a way of life. Our education, knowledge and requirements for having transparency and authenticity are only going to get bigger, not go away. It’s even more important for us as an organization to evolve with the times.

What’s the most exotic ingredient you’ve ever cooked with?
Fresh wasabi, which is actually hard to get. The “wasabi” you get in a lot of sushi restaurants is not actually wasabi, it is dried horseradish. We actually got it from a little place that, I think, was in Oregon. It usually only grows in a specific place in Japan, and Oregon was able to figure it out. That was a pretty cool ingredient – a lot of fun, actually.

What one cooking technique should everyone know how to do properly?
Patience is a skill that I think you need for cooking. It's not necessarily a technique, but for example: my wife will put a pan on the stove and then immediately put something in it. No! You've got to let that pan pre-heat on the stove for a while before you add oil. Knowing sequencing is important. Making a soup is not dumping everything into a pot and turning it on. Each ingredient needs to be treated a little bit differently. To make a marinara sauce, you sauté your onions first until they're translucent, then add garlic; and when you smell the garlic, then add the next ingredient, and so on. Patience is a key ingredient

Any other advice for aspiring chefs?
Cook with all your senses – your eyes, your ears, your nose, your sense of touch – not just taste. For instance, when you put a steak in a pan, if you're not hearing “sizzle”, then it's not hot enough and you need to be patient. When you smell the garlic, that's when you know you need to add something. Get fully involved in the food.

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