The head of culinary innovation for McDonald’s worldwide has said the chain openly embraces ‘menu hacking’ – the idea that customers mix and match ingredients in their orders – and will learn from it to develop items that guests are requesting,
Mike Haracz, who spends a significant portion of his time in the fast food giant’s Chicago test kitchen, said the company knows that customers often want something unique rather than a pre-prescribed meal from the menu, be it a hash brown on an Egg McMuffin or Big Mac sauce on a Filet-O-Fish.
“Guests have always come in and created their own menu hacks,” said Mr Haracz. “So if they’re in the restaurant and they want to order an Egg McMuffin, but with Applewood smoked bacon instead of Canadian bacon, they can do that.”
He said menu hacking “is about more than just being able to customise” — it’s the chance to allow customers to mix and match.
“It’s not about what I like or what our team likes. We want to act on what our guests are requesting,” he said. “We totally understand our scope and scale. There are lots of moving pieces when we launch a new menu item, and we want to make sure we have enough of the product so we don’t run out.”
In the US, Mr Haracz highlighted its Triple Breakfast Stacks, which are available for a limited time at participating restaurants, as an example of how it reacts to customer demand.
“Guests have been hacking our menu for years. So we figured we’d create our own hack using the same classic McDonald’s breakfast items our customers already love.”
On McDonald’s website, Mr Haracz said he loves being a chef at McDonald’s because he has the opportunity to feed more people than any other chef on the planet.
Asked what a day in the life of a senior chef at McDonald’s is like, he revealed: “Although I spend a good amount of time in the kitchen, there are plenty of meetings and research being conducted every day. I may be with a group of suppliers discussing consumer and flavour trends, with our operations team figuring out the best way to manage a new menu item, with our marketing team planning how to promote a future platform, or even participating in a taste panel and giving my opinion on a potential future project. Even outside of work, it is important for us to be brand ambassadors since we are always in the spotlight.”