Food Industry

McDonald's Introduces Grand Mac and Mac Jr. to South Florida Before Nationwide Release

Everyone knows the Big Mac is the signature sandwich of McDonald's. But not too many people know it has some mighty savory cousins.

This Monday, November 14, Miami will be introduced to the burger's family when the Mac Jr. and Grand Mac will launch. South Florida will be one of first regions to try these new offerings before the nationwide launch in early 2017.

The burgers in the Big Mac family include the Mac Jr.: a single-layer Big Mac that proffers a single, larger beef patty and forgoes the extra middle bun. The Grand Mac is made with two beef patties that are larger than those on the classic sandwich to total one-third pound of meat. Each burger includes lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, and the chain's special sauce. The seeded buns are baked daily at Turano Bakery in Orlando. The Big Mac, introduced in 1967, is the anchor of the collection.

McDonald's corporate chef Mike Haracz worked on the new sandwiches with a team of other toques, along with McDonald's owner-operators, to give customers several riffs on the well-known sandwich. The fast-food megagiant is especially interested in tapping into the millennial market — many of whom have never experienced a Big Mac.

Haracz, a magna cum laude graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, with an associate degree in culinary arts and a bachelor’s degree in culinary nutrition, describes the two new McDonld's offerings. "The Grand Mac is a hearty, beef-forward experience, and with the Mac Jr., you get more of the sauce and cheese."

Haracz also shares some insight into how long it takes for a giant restaurant company to introduce a new product. "Depending on what the project is, it could take anywhere from six months to years to make sure it's correct and right. There have been instances that if something is not right, we have to make it right. We have test kitchens and a variety of chefs. We're always working together to come up with cool items."

The chef, who works out of McDonald's headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, says that even with chains such as Shake Shack and In and Out Burger, McDonald's is the standard-bearer of burgers for a reason. "When people think of McDonald's, it brings them back to a delicious experience. There's so much history and consistency of flavor. Whether you go to California or Florida, you're eating the same burger every time. We can offer guests a familiar flavor. That's what keeps us great going forward — that and introducing fun new items."

The chef also explains how South Florida was chosen to get a first taste of the new Mac family. "It depends on the product we're doing. If we're doing a fried chicken project, people down South are more passionate. We did a lot of work, and you guys in Miami are very passionate about what you like and dislike. Florida is upfront and honest."

The Mac family will be available at all South Florida McDonald's locations beginning Monday, November 14 (prices are not yet available). In addition, a Big Mac food truck will roam Miami at the end of November and early December (a schedule is being worked out); a kickoff at the Burger Beast Museum will take place with a grand-opening friends-and-family night Thursday, December 1.

Let the world know what you think with the hashtag "#MACnificent".
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss