Orlando’s Top Chefs Rise To The Challenge, Creating Gourmet Dishes From McDonald’s Ingredients!

Appetite for the Arches FundraiserOn Saturday, March 1, some of the who’s who of Orlando’s chef community will show us just HOW talented they are at the new Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Central Florida’s Appetite for the Arches fundraising event.  Fourteen different chefs have created dishes using ingredients from McDonald’s, and they all have gotten VERY creative.  The chefs wowed a group of food writers with a preview of some of the dishes that Appetite for the Arches guests will enjoy.

National Republic is donating wine and spirits for the event, and we started the evening with a sweet, fruity Troy & Jam cocktail, featuring Troy & Sons Whiskey and McDonald’s strawberries and strawberry drizzle.  Troy & Sons Whiskey was also paired with McDonald’s hazelnut syrup, maple syrup, and dried apple slices in the yummy Whiskey Smash.

Chef Kathleen Blake presented her appetizer selection, Charmoula Chicken, made of marinated chicken breast and pickled red onions.  It was served atop a crunchy pressed oil and vinegar potato crisp that she made with McDonald’s hash browns!  Orlando’s Own Hunky Chef, Kevin Fonzo of K Restaurant, offered a delicious Chipotle BBQ Beef Enchilada with a southwestern veggie salad, made with the McDonald’s steak and vegetables.

James Petrakis of The Ravenous Pig presented my favorite dish of the evening.  He went to great lengths to make his dish spectacular, reworking a variety of McDonald’s menu items to create a slightly sweet corn fritter with a texture between a hush puppy and fried polenta.  It contrasted beautifully with the rich Bolognese sauce with McDonald’s sausage and hamburger meat that he smoked himself.  This dish was a marvel- truly gourmet quality, with exciting flavors and textures that worked together perfectly.

Appetite for the Arches Fundraiser ParticipantsJulie Petrakis crowned the evening with her stunning achievement, a dreamy Caramel Apple Bread Pudding that she crafted of McDonald’s Cinnamelts, combined with the apple pie filling, caramel sauce, and oatmeal cookies (for the streusel on top).  A scoop of McDonald’s classic vanilla ice cream melted slowly on top, making the dessert irresistible.

Julie and James Petrakis, co-owners of The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder, helped to plan the event, and many of Julie’s chef friends pitched in to help.  Julie loves comfort food, and shares why she loves helping the Ronald McDonald House: “At this event, we can provide comfort food like no other — by helping Ronald McDonald House keep families together when they need it most.”

Ronald McDonald Appetite for the Arches Fundraiser OrlandoI spoke with John Petrakis, Ronald McDonald House board member and proud father of local restaurateurs James and Brian Petrakis, who shared how the community has rallied around this event.  The Orlando World Center Marriott donated the event space for free, saving the charity thousands of dollars.  They were eager to help because one of their executive chefs recently stayed at Orlando’s Ronald McDonald house while his daughter was being treated for a serious illness.  Also, John Petrakis is donating all of the ingredients through the local McDonald’s franchise group that he owns.  This means that nearly ALL of the money from ticket sales will go directly to helping local families facing serious illness.

It was a joy to spend this evening with the incredible Petrakis family and their foodie friends.  This event will be a gourmand’s dream…a beautiful night of sampling delicious dishes while doing good!

Ronald McDonald House Charities


March 1, 2014, 7:00-10:00 p.m.

Orland World Center Marriott

Tickets $250 each.

Find additional information about Appetite for the Arches.

About Sunshine Baker

Sunshine Baker is a Communication Instructor at the University of Central Florida. Her research focus is social media and restaurants. She also consults with hospitality firms to enhance their social media efforts. Sunshine blogs about Florida shopping, and loves to travel the U.S. and Europe to discover unique local restaurants, thrilling experiences, and exotic spas.

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