The premise of the entertaining blog FancyFastFood.com is that fast-food meals can be deconstructed and reassembled into something much more appetizing. That there’s criticism of fast food on the site and not just fun is clear from the blog’s subtitle: “Yeah, It’s Still Bad for You—But See How Good It Can Look.” Recently, for example, McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets were deftly reengineered into “Le Chicken McConfit.”
Rather than be offended, McDonald’s has chosen to see such transformations as proof of the quality of its ingredients. And in Portugal, McDonald’s has turned the tables on critics by playing the “what can we make of it?” game itself. McDonald’s “Gourmet Challenge” promotion there invites consumers to “combine the quality of McDonald’s ingredients with your gastronomic creativity” to make gourmet dishes (entrées or desserts) and win prizes.
Winning recipes will be announced next month. A list of McDonald’s ingredients can be downloaded, and these items must be used exclusively for the contest. Winners receive a kitchen mixer and will have a meal prepared for them by Chef João Simões of Hotel Altis Belém in Lisbon.
To get the creative juices flowing, Chef Simões offers two recipes of his own. One is “Tornedó Vaca ao Emmental com Cenoura em Duas Textures” (Tornedo of Beef with Emmental Cheese and Carrots in Two Textures, shown above) using elements of Big Mac and Big Tasty burgers plus various salad components.
The Gourmet Challenge is a bold extension of McDonald’s ongoing strategy of standing up for the quality of its food. In the United States, that stance is seen in the “What We’re Made Of” commercials and Web site (via DDB Needham). Earlier this year, we wrote about “Nothing,” a 60-second UK commercial from Leo Burnett/London proclaiming, “Nothing. Zero. That’s what’s added to our burgers. They’re simply 100% beef from British and Irish farms seasoned with salt and pepper.” (Watch the advert here.) We said then that no other chain has so large a marketing budget that it could afford to air a 60-second affirmation of ingredient quality. It’s true. And McD’s also can afford to have some fun with critics of its food quality.