The Atlantic has just published my profile of the celebrity chef who designed a burger for McDonald’s.
One brisk autumn day in Milan, I walked into Il Marchesino—an upscale eatery inside La Scala opera house—carrying a brown-paper takeaway bag from McDonald’s. My lunchtime companion that day, the Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi, was waiting at a small table against a wall. He was dressed in a well-tailored dark-blue suit, his silver hair swept back. On his lapel, he wore a coin-size replica of his most famous dish: a saffron risotto topped with a square leaf of edible gold.
Marchesi, a cherubic 81, managed to seem pleased, surprised, and embarrassed by my offering. With a giggle, he took the bag and set it down on the floor beside his chair. Marchesi is widely credited with elevating Italian food from home cooking to haute cuisine. He earned his first Michelin star in 1977 and eight years later became the first non-French chef to receive three. But I had come to see him about another, more recent, first. In 2011, Marchesi became the first celebrity chef to design a hamburger for McDonald’s—two of them, in fact, and a dessert to go with them. What I had brought in the brown-paper bag was Marchesi’s own creation.
Read the rest.