Chef Arend cooking up one of his prize creations, "Chicken McNuggets", in the early 1980's.
|Born:||December 20, 1928|
|Former Executive chef, McDonald's, 1976-2004, present chef consultant with McDonald's|
|developed both the Chicken McNuggets and McRib sandwich menu items|
René Arend (born December 30, 1928) served as Executive Chef for McDonald's, a position from which he directed McDonald's corporate product development efforts from 1976 to 2004. Chef Arend, who was responsible for the creation of two popular McDonald's menu items, the Chicken McNuggets in 1979 and the McRib sandwich in 1981, also developed the mechanization process through which the preparation of the recipe for both items were successfully created. In 2004, Chef Arend, who still remains with McDonald's in a limited capacity as a executive consultant chef, stepped down from his position as Executive Chef, before being replaced in that post by Dan Coudreaut in 2004.
Life and Career
Chef Arend, a native of Luxembourg, first-in-the-class graduate of the College Technique de Strasbourg and former chef at Chicago's Drake Hotel, poured his knowledge into the creation of secret sauces. He tried hundreds before settling on the three types Chicken McNuggets fans can buy today - barbecue, sweet-sour and hot mustard. Finally, the chef had to determine proper cooking times before flash-freezing the McNuggets, the freezing time and the proper amount of time for frying them in the restaurants. Arend won a 1959 gourmet contest at the Drake with his supreme de poularde Amphitryon—chicken in sweet butter with cognac Martell, Madere sauce, cream, and goose liver, accompanied by veal dumplings and hearts of palm covered in orange hollandaise sauce—"fixed up for tastes of American people,” Arend told the Chicago Tribune in 1985.
Chef Arend moved to the Whitehall Club before being lured away by the hours, benefits, and challenge of McDonald’s in the late 1970s by Ray Kroc, a Whitehall regular.
Ideas for new additions to the McDonald's menu derive from the chef, from management as well as owners of the franchises all over the country. For example, the Filet-O-Fish sandwich, which was created by franchisee Lou Groen of Cincinnati; the Big Mac, which was the brainchild idea of franchisee Jim Delligatti of Pittsburgh, and the Egg McMuffin was the brainstorm of Herb Peterson of Santa Barbara, Calif.  The process for the development of those menu ideas into actual menu items can take up to several years; the completed product that the Executive Chef and his culinary staff, or a franchisee still must be finally approved by the McDonald's corporate executive staff as a new menu item in the end.
For example, Chef Arend created the Chicken McNugget way back in 1979, but it wasn't available in McDonald's restaurants nationwide until 1983 because there simply wasn't enough processed chicken to go around. Oddly enough, that McNugget shortage was what led Arend to create the McRib in 1981. Arend told Maxim in 2009, "There wasn't a system to supply enough chicken."
- Behind The Mcdonald's Menu Lies The Skill Of A Master Chef, March 21, 1984, by Diane Stoneback for The Morning Call, Lehigh Valley, PA, accessed 8/15/2014.
- Ex-Chef of Exclusive Club Plans McDonald's Menu, story taken from the Orlando Sentinel, Toledo Blade, October 4, 1985, accessed 8/15/2014.
- The Cult of the McRib, February 3, 2009, By: Maxim.com Staff, accessed 8/15/2014.