D.C. chef Amy Brandwein turned a McDonald's Happy Meal into a gourmet pasta dish.

The first thought for most with McDonald’s chicken nuggets and fries is probably not “How can I incorporate these into fancy tortellini?”, but chef Amy Brandwein did just that after a challenge from TikTok creator Danny Kim. Brandwein started with a Happy Meal of nuggets, fries, apple pies, and sweet and sour sauce. She then made tortellini, then combined the nuggets and pie filling with parmesan cheese and used that as the tortellini filling, then turned the fries into pommes dauphine and served with the sweet and sour sauce, fresh apple slices, and pie crumbs:

@dannygrubs McDonalds Happy Meal turned gourmet✨ #McDonalds #FoodTok #FoodHacks ♬ original sound – Danny Kim

That’s certainly unconventional, but it looks pretty good. However, all that work for three pieces of pasta seems perhaps excessive. Maybe this could be executed at more significant scale, or at least with 20 nuggets rather than four.

Brandwein is the chef and owner at Washington, D.C. restaurants Centrolina and Piccolina. She earned a nomination for the James Beard Award this year in the Best Chef – Mid-Atlantic category. And she’s been a key figure in advocating for greater representation for female chefs, speaking to the Resy.com blog about that last month:

“Generally, the early years were difficult. Most times, I was the only woman on the hot line. Women in leadership roles was very uncommon. The hospitality industry and media culture were definitely not carving a path for women leaders and diversity was not important. I was fortunate to get a big break early in my career, from someone for which I worked very hard — and that propelled me to where I am today. I’m an example that is few and far between.”

“The path for women is pretty tough when you consider the costs of culinary education, planning a family, capital and business formation. That is why I choose to speak very plainly about it – to help those who love food and want a career. It’s still very challenging for women to carve out their own place in this industry and that is why female representation in kitchens is still very low.”

“I am struck by how few women chefs there are in D.C. even now. Becoming a chef-owner was the most impactful thing in my career — to be able to create my own vision and identity. Prior to this, generally it was hard to be taken seriously, although the work was essentially the same.”

Brandwein is certainly carving an impressive path for herself and others. And this video (which had received more than 1.3 million views and more than 134,000 likes as of Monday morning) certainly will get her and her work some more attention.

[Danny Kim on TikTok, Metro]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.