Is this the dawn of "gotcha" cooking? A talented chef in Los Angeles managed to trick food writers into praising McDonald's ingredients through the cunning method of rearranging them into completely new dishes, the Guardian reports. Chef Neal Fraser, a former Top Chef Masters contestant, told the group of 40 foodies invited to a special dinner that he was using "experimental" ingredients. The dishes included chilled avocado soup, spicy meatballs, and a coffee custard dessert, all made with ingredients that normally go into McDonald's menu items. "I just hope no one hits me," he said before the event. Fraser's gourmet creations appeared to be a hit, with the diners clearing nearly every plate in the five-course meal, reports the OC Register, which notes that McDonald's execs—who paid Fraser an undisclosed fee—watched the event on a live feed.
Food blogger Danielle Salmon tells the Register that the food seemed a "little off from what he normally serves" and that there was plenty of speculation about a "weird secret ingredient." When Fraser asked the diners to guess the secret, one correctly shouted out "Golden Arches," though most of the group appeared surprised—and while the general reaction was positive, a few foodies seemed disturbed. The meal was recorded and releases signed, so don't be surprised if the video ends up as part of a McDonald's commercial in the near future. A blog post at Eater is critical of Fraser for what it views as a corporate "scam." It cites a litany of problems with McDonald's, from labor issues to nutritional issues to the sourcing of ingredients, and calls the stunt "shocking and disturbing for a number of reasons." (This McDonald's kale salad contains more calories than a Big Mac.)