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McDonald's Head Chef Returns to The Culinary Institute of America to Deliver Commencement Address

Mar 19, 2008

Dan Coudreaut, who has been called the most influential chef in the world, returns to his alma mater The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) on Thursday, March 20, to address the graduating class and their families.

Coudreaut is the Director of Culinary Innovation for McDonald's USA. Since 2004, he has been responsible for leading a team that develops menu items for the nearly 14,000 McDonald's restaurants in the United States, feeding more than 26 million McDonald's customers daily.

"We are excited to have Chef Coudreaut return to his alma mater to deliver the commencement address," said Dr. Tim Ryan, president of The Culinary Institute of America. "Dan is a great role model for our students. The work he does developing new menu items for McDonald's has brought pleasure to millions of Americans. His accomplishments as both a chef and a leader are a testament to the skill and spirit of innovation that he brings to his job."

Anyone who has eaten a Snack Wrap, Asian Salad, McSkillet Burrito, or any number of other sandwiches or salads at McDonald's, has tasted some of the work of Chef Coudreaut. After graduating from the CIA in 1995 with an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts, Coudreaut went into the fine dining segment, cooking at the Four Seasons Hotel and Cafe Pacific in Dallas. He moved to menu research and development with Metromedia Restaurants, parent company of Ponderosa and Bonanza steakhouses.

His innovations have introduced McDonald's customers to bolder more contemporary ingredients including edamame, mandarin oranges, poblano peppers, savory black beans, fire-roasted corn and almonds and zesty flavors including chipotle and cilantro-lime, in addition to a whole host of wholesome menu options.

"The challenge of a great chef is not the cooking he or she does at the stove top," said Chef Coudreaut. "It is the cooking he or she does through the hands of others. It's understanding that every person's contribution to the overall experience is important."

Last year the Chicago Tribune crowned Dan with the title of, "Most Powerful Chef in America." An article in Canada's Ottawa Citizen said, "There's not much doubt Dan Coudreaut has more influence on what people consume than any other chef in the world."

In addition to delivering the commencement address to associate degree recipients during his return to campus, Chef Coudreaut will also discuss leadership at a lecture sponsored by the Student Government Association.

About the CIA

Founded in 1946, The Culinary Institute of America is an independent, not-for-profit college offering bachelor's and associate degrees, as well as certificate programs, in either culinary arts or baking and pastry arts. As the world's premier culinary college, the CIA has a network of more than 37,000 alumni that includes industry leaders such as Grant Achatz, Anthony Bourdain, Cat Cora, Harold Dieterle, Steve Ells, Todd English, Duff Goldman, Sara Moulton, Charlie Palmer, and Roy Yamaguchi. The college has campuses in New York (Hyde Park), California (The CIA at Greystone, St. Helena), and Texas (San Antonio), as well as an additional location in New York City (The CIA at Astor Center). In addition to its degree programs, the CIA also offers courses for professionals and food enthusiasts, as well as wine education. For more information, visit the CIA online at

About McDonald's USA

McDonald's USA, LLC, is the leading foodservice provider in the United States serving a variety of wholesome foods made from quality ingredients to millions of customers every day. More than 80 percent of McDonald's 13,700 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by local franchisees. For more information on McDonald's, visit

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CONTACT: Jeff Levine of The Culinary Institute of America,
+1-845-451-1372,; or Danya Proud of McDonald's USA

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