When you sign up for an invitation-only dinner party thrown by a celebrity chef and the only other guests are food writers and bloggers, you can expect something is up. Someone is either switching up a menu at an existing spot, opening a new restaurant, collaborating with a charity, or selling out to the man.
But you usually don’t expect to be tricked into eating something that you would normally stay miles away from. But that’s what Top Chef winner and Redbird proprietor, chef Neal Fraser, did Wednesday night in L.A. Fraser invited guests to try what he called “experimental” and “fresh” ingredients at an exclusive dinner he hosted at The Carondelet House.
It turns out that the ingredients Fraser actually served to the journalists were all sourced from McDonald’s food purveyors. According to Eater, the meal was set up by a SoCal ad agency with approval from McDonald’s corporate, who used Fraser to elevate the same produce, meats, and dairy that they use into a fine-dining experience.
Maybe the Canadian bacon-wrapped chicken with corn and potato hash that Fraser served looked not all that bad, but it still feels more than a bit shady that he would lie to his guests about what they were coming to his restaurant to eat.
We’re guessing the meal was free for the bloggers, and that Fraser got a healthy pay check—but still, the fresh and local concepts that Fraser touts at his restaurants RedBird and BLD are based around transparency and honesty. The appeal of knowing where your food comes from is knowing that no one is lying to you. That knowledge is comfort.
Fraser took that comfort out from under his diners feet by waiting ’til the end of the meal to reveal his McDonald’s partnership and hidden agenda.
We have a feeling Fraser knew it wasn’t quite kosher, as he reportedly denied the ad agency’s offer to cook the dinner before ultimately accepting the gig later.
Everyone’s gotta get paid though… right? Sure, and this definitely seems like the easy way and dishonest way to make a quick buck.