Food design | Happier Meal

Four top Toronto-area chefs were invited by local alt-weekly The Grid (formerly EYE) to design five-star meals using only the ingredients
These four chefs were asked to turn a Big Mac combo (burger, fries and a Coke, plus lots of condiments) into a five-star dish.
The only rule: other than oil and water, no extra ingredients allowed. The result is four meals that won’t be seen on a specials board anytime

Local Kitchen’s McLumi Platter

It took chef/co-owner Fabio Bondi three tries to get this dish right. He made mortadella (an Italian cold cut) out of emulsified patties, lettuce, onions and sweet-and-sour sauce. But when he poached the sausage, it exploded. The same thing happened when he put it in a hot pan. In the end, he prepared it in the restaurant’s backyard smoker. The buns were toasted and made into crostini (the sesame seeds were mixed with ketchup to resemble mostarda, a fruit and mustard condiment). The nodini (bread knots) were made from fries.

Campagnolo’s Big Mac All’Americana

Chefs Craig Harding and Nigel French kept it traditional (sort of) by making a (sort of) pasta dish. Fries were julienned for the spaghetti, which they served with a burger-patty-and-ketchup bolognaise. In lieu of parmesan: a grated, toasted bun. “In Italy, when you can’t afford cheese, you would actually use bread instead,” says Harding. “It’s called ‘poor man’s parmesan.’”

The Drake’s Birthday Surprise

“I wanted to keep it kitschy, which is what we do here at The Drake,” says chef Anthony Rose. The burger was iced with a blend of fries, ketchup, special sauce and Coca-Cola. The flowers on the side of the cake are pickles, and a cola reduction was used as sauce. One final touch: The extra fries were used as candles and were so greasy, they actually lit up when blasted with a blowtorch. Coincidentally, there was a birthday party in the restaurant that day. Rose did not serve the burger cake.

Aravind’s Open-Faced Samosas

Father-and-son team Raj and Aravind Kozhikott wanted their creation to reflect their restaurant’s Indian cuisine. To make the samosa filling, they diced the meat, mixed it with the onion and used barbecue sauce as a binding agent before wrapping it in two rolled-out-and-fried burger buns. The fries were bundled up using strips of a cut-up fry box. The cheese from the burger was scraped off the patty and used as a sauce