Who knew that a teenager’s part-time job working at McDonald’s would lead to a career for Anne Parks? If you don’t know her name, you should. She’s in charge of the company’s Canadian menu development and she’s not who you would expect in this role. In fact, I was surprised to learn that Parks is a serious foodie and a farmer!
“If you told me in 1978 that I’d be able to cook and eat for a living, and that I would be developing dishes for millions of people I wouldn’t have believed it. But here I am, and I’m lovin’ it.”
Parks has been involved with McDonald’s Menu Management for the past six years and spent 29 years in McDonald’s restaurants working with guests before that. Already a manager before she went off to college, Parks knew that McDonald’s was where she wanted to grow her career. She landed her dream job six years ago when she became the Director of Menu Management in Canada.
But her love for food extends into her personal life as well. She’s a farmer, licensed beekeeper and an accomplished at-home chef. So she knows a thing or two about food and families!
Parks says she looks at ways to keep the menu interesting and up-to-date with popular tastes and textures from around the world. Recently she helped to bring innew fresh meatless options with the launch of the Santa Fe and Mediterranean Signature McWrap™ to serve the growing public demand for more veggie options.
Anne helped customized the veggie Signature McWrap™ options to suit Canadian tastes. For example, Canada is the first country to use a whole-wheat tortilla. McDonald’s takes it one step further and allows for more customization of individual wraps. So, if you don’t like cucumbers in your Mediterranean wrap just let them know when ordering!
I had a chance to ask Anne Parks her view on veggies and kids….
What are your feelings about “sneaking in” vegetables into meals with little picky-eaters?
Whether it’s cutting up the veggies into fun shapes or coming up with creative recipes – I think adding vegetables to meals in subtle ways for kids is a great idea!
“Root vegetables, like carrots and potatoes, are fun – sort of surprise and delight.”
What are your favourite ways for families to work in some veggies into their daily consumption?
Serve small amounts of vegetables at every meal, in fun shapes and with assorted dips. I would also leave small plates of snacks (vegetables, cheese) in the fridge for kids to easily access and graze on; make it easy and fun.
If someone wanted to start their own backyard vegetable garden, any tips or things we should know?
- Start small with vegetables you and your family enjoy.
- Root vegetables, like carrots and potatoes, are fun – sort of surprise and delight.
- Online seed catalogues (OSC, Stokes, Dominion Seed) are easy to browse through to look for a wide variety of vegetables.
- Buy good gardening gloves.
- Compost all year long and use this soil in your garden.
What do you want our readers to know about Canadian farms/farmers?
There are many fun activities the whole family can enjoy when visiting a farm. Consider planning a weekend trip now that harvest season is starting – it’s a great time of year.
And what else do you want us to know?
I was perhaps an unusual kid. I cracked my first cookbook at 12 and cooking was a favourite pastime. If you told me in 1978 that I’d be able to cook and eat for a living, and that I would be developing dishes for millions of people I wouldn’t have believed it. But here I am, and I’m lovin’ it.
Here’s another great recipe from Anne!
This post is sponsored by McDonald’s Canada. Thanks to Anne Parks for the interview!