McD Chef

Merry Christmas! To those of you visiting because you received a Christmas card, the first part of this post is all about our exciting adventures this year with Elayna becoming a Happy Meal Chef. Our family Christmas update is at the end of the page (so keep reading). Don't forget to see our Olympic trip photos by clicking the Flickr slide show in the right column  --------> Thanks for stopping by to visit!

This past spring, our family entered a video contest to become a McDonald's Happy Meal Chef.  My daughter, Elayna, won the grand prize Happy Meal Chef experience.
She and my husband, Chad, won round-trip tickets to London to cook in a global cooking challenge called Champions of Food (I went with them to watch this) They also won tickets to several Olympic events and activities as part of a group of children who won from around the world called Champions of Play.  McDonald's is working on offering a variety of healthier options in their Happy Meals and they are encouraging kids to be more active.

Chef Dan with Sarah and Elayna

Elayna will go back to McDonald's headquarters, near Chicago, this October to cook with their executive chef, Dan Coudreaut, to discuss more ideas for the Happy Meals.

Below are a few links with more details about our Happy Meal Chef experience.
This is our mini scrapbook that will change as we add more in the next few weeks (currently sorting through 3,000 photos).

Below is the video we made to enter the contest.

{Click on highlighted words to see more}
McDonald's announcement about winning.
The video news clip on our local KSL5 News
The article in our local Salt Lake Tribune newspaper.
A newspaper column in our local Deseret News.

McDonald's blog about Happy Meal Chef Global Food Challenge #ChampionsofFood


Elayna's Coconut Couscous Cup recipe

Chef Elayna's Coconut Couscous Cups
Below is McDonald's Chef John Feeney (left) who helped her prepare her dish and her dad (right). Next is Dara Torres (in purple) the gold medal swimmer who helped judge the cooking challenge.

Dara Torres, gold medal swimmer

McD Chef John Feeney
Elayna can't stop talking about all the new friends she met too.  The five kids below in yellow all went to London early for the Champion's of Food cooking challenge.  The boys were from Germany, Japan and Brazil. The other girl was the other grand prize winner from America.  They all clicked immediately, even with the language differences, they had interpreters, but the language of smiles and laughter connected them.

 Elayna had been looking forward to meeting Sarah since she found out they won.  They had so much fun together.
 Below is more of the group of Champion's of Play from America.  They all entered the McDonald's video contest to win a trip to the Olympics. Elayna had watched all their videos several times and memorized their names so she would be prepared for the trip. It made the trip a lot more fun than just hanging out with adults the whole time. It was fun to see her social skills bloom on this trip.

Read more on McDonald's blog about the 1st day at the London Olympics #ChampionsofPlay
London Olympic Stadium
Largest McDonald's in the World at London Olympics
Elayna's memories: Eating at the world's largest McDonald's. Attending the Olympic men's swimming events. Watching Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte swim. Realizing the Queen is in the same room. Getting a behind the scenes tour of the Olympic Athlete's Village. Holding the torch. Meeting the Women's Volleyball Team USA and Shawn Johnson (gold medal gymnast) and Dara Torres (gold medal swimmer).

Watching London Olympics Men's Swimming
The London Olympic Torch for Champions of Play

Additional pictures and details are on McDonald's blog about the 2nd Day at the London Olympics #ChampionsofPlay 
London's Tower Bridge with Olympic Rings
They visited the Archery venue, met the Archery Team USA, held their silver medals and shot some arrows. Then they attended men's volleyball.

McDonald's press page with additional video, photos and press release about this experience.

 Some pictures I took while touring London. I loved all the flags! They decorated the entire city.

 Paris Pre-Trip
We flew over a few days early to visit Paris. We watched the Tour de France, attended several museums and went up the Eiffel Tower.
Eiffel Tower and Tour de France

This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience we will never forget. We thank McDonald's for the opportunity and for taking care of all the details for a fun-filled trip to the Olympics!

UPDATE: (Obtober) McDonald's Headquarters near Chicago, IL. 
(all photos from Chicago courtesy ©McDonald's)
Happy Meal Chefs Elayna and Sarah headed to McDonald's Headquarters to learn more about the process of planning Happy Meals and brainstorm new options for healthier food options in future Happy Meals. 
"Pocket" was a key word they brainstormed around.
They came up with a plan to try cooking homemade ravioli and empanadas. (Not that this is what will be in the Happy Meals, they just decided to learn how to cook those from scratch as a cooking lesson.)
They learned so much cooking with Chef Dan.
Making pasta from scratch.
A large commercial kitchen is very different than cooking at home.
They also learned about the government's 'My Plate' nutritional plan and how McDonald's is planning their Happy Meals around that healthy balanced plate.

They got to taste test a variety of food options that could possibly be in the Happy Meals by next year.  Do you have any guesses as to what they might be?

Elayna's dad and Sarah's mom helped in the kitchen too.

 The girls got to tour the nearby Ronald McDonald House to learn about the generous charity provided to families with children in the hospital. They made homemade granola to pass out to those staying in the house.
Then they toured the McDonald's restaurant to learn more about the kitchen.

 Sarah and Elayna at the McDonald's counter.
McDonald's put together this fun video of their experience at headquarters. I love the part where they are taste testing the secret recipes and a mysterious hand slides the food through a window.

UPDATE: October 15, 2012
We just went to McDonald's for a treat tonight and found this life-size poster for the Happy Meal Chefs.  Elayna was very surprised and then started giggling.

She is loving this experience. The posters are up in most McDonald's around the country for the month of October.

Update: In October Elayna had her Chef Birthday party at our local McDonald's.
The girls played pin-the-chef-hat-on-Elayna's poster.

Then they ate Happy Meals (the Scooby Doo Halloween buckets came with silly stickers)
They all signed her apron
Then they decorated cupcakes to take home.
Her brother got to decorate a few too.  Then everyone played on the new play land. 

UPDATE: Halloween 

Surprise, Surprise, Elayna was a Happy Meal Chef for Halloween.  We went trick-or-treating at a local shopping center and a couple of adults said, hey, your that real McDonald's chef I saw on the news. That was pretty funny to hear since it was three months after the news aired.

Elayna with me (Victoria) and her brothers, the train conductor and safari tour guide.

For those friends and family who received Christmas cards (and actually made it through this long blog post), here are some additional pictures of our family.
We visited Santa at the Sugar Shack in town. Clark wouldn't sit on his lap but gave him a high-five to get a candy cane. (He is addicted to candy.)
Elayna is in 3rd grade now and loves to read, play piano, listen to music and play with friends.
James is in first grade, loves making paper airplanes and playing legos. Both kids played soccer in the spring, then took tumbling this fall.
Clark is 2 and loves to dance. His favorite song is Wheels on the Bus.

This Happy Meal year was very unexpected but a pleasant surprise. It has been a wonderful opportunity for our family to be involved in. They have asked Elayna to keep in touch as they prepare to roll-out the new Happy Meal items next year so we are excited to see what happens.

Our family has still had a normal life the rest of the year.  Chad still works for UTA (Utah transit) and is excited the Front Runner train to Provo is now running (earlier in December) and the Trax (light-rail) line will open to the airport in April.  Two huge projects that have taken years of planning.
 Chad and I at Halloween as Santa and Cruella Deville.
Chad and I at the Eiffel Tower, July 2012.

Elayna and I at the Eiffel Tower.

 Grandma with our kids and their cousins.

Clark with his new hair cut, 2.5 years old now.
I ran the Utah Valley Half Marathon in June.

I also went on a Pioneer Trek with my church in July.
The purple bonnet was my grandmothers she wore in the cotton fields of Oklahoma.

The kids had a successful Snack Stand.

 We participated in the Arthritis Walk in May. I used to work there, and many of you know I have arthritis myself (Ankylosing Spondylitis). I'm so grateful for the family who came to walk with us that day!

Our extended family bought a cabin together up near Heber, Utah this fall. We've only been up a few times but can't wait to use it every summer for years to come.  The leaves were amazing this fall.

The kids built a fort on the hill. The cabin is surrounded by trees.

We wish all our friends and family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Miss you all! 
Leave us a note below or email us if you have questions or comments. We'd love to hear from you.


fairytalesandflowers said...

That's fantastic! How good to win. What did she do to win the competition.

David said...
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David said...
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