Jeb Boniakowski has an amazing idea for the greatest McDonald’s in the world that will be located in Times Square — one that will serve meals from McDonald’s restaurants from around the world, bring back discontinued items from past menus like the McLean Deluxe anyone, and be the home for McDonald’s food lab/test kitchen.
How much difference really is there between McDonald’s super-processed food and molecular gastronomy? I used to know this guy who was a great chef, like his restaurant was in the Relais & Châteaux association and everything, and he’d always talk about how there were intense flavors in McDonald’s food that he didn’t know how to make. I’ve often thought that a lot of what makes crazy restaurant food taste crazy is the solemn appreciation you lend to it. If you put a Cheeto on a big white plate in a formal restaurant and serve it with chopsticks and say something like “It is a cornmeal quenelle, extruded at a high speed, and so the extrusion heats the cornmeal ‘polenta’ and flash-cooks it, trapping air and giving it a crispy texture with a striking lightness. It is then dusted with an ‘umami powder’ glutamate and evaporated-dairy-solids blend.” People would go just nuts for that. I mean even a Coca-Cola is a pretty crazy taste.
So in this Labs area, McD’s would invite like Ferran Adrià’s brother to come cook food out of chicken nuggets sauce and whatnot. AND his staff of prep cooks would be like, the dudes from a regular McDonald’s who invented the best off-menu snacks to eat. And they’d use them as starting points. Plus it would be hilarious to hear all the New Yorkers clamoring for tickets to the limited run of Andrew Carmellini at McDonald’s Labs, it would be like how everyone lines up for Proenza Schouler for Target or whatever.
Jason Kottke is totally down with the concept and draws out the comparisons between McDonald’s and molecular gastronomy one step further:
Why is the former so maligned while the latter gets accolades when they’re the same thing? (And simultaneously not the same thing at all, but you get my gist.) Cheetos are amazing. Oscar Meyer bologna is amazing. Hot Potato Cold Potato is amazing. Quarter Pounders with Cheese are amazing. Adrià’s olives are amazing. Coca-Cola is amazing. (Warhol: ” A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking.”) WD50’s Everything Bagel is amazing. Cheerios are amazing. All have unique flavors that don’t exist in nature — you’ve got to take food apart and put it back together in a different way to find those new tastes.
This is too amazing of an idea to not happen. C’mon, McDonald’s let’s get it done.