McDonald's Secret Secret Menu Challenge 2016 + $100 Contest

I was invited to attend The Secret Secret Menu Challenge at McDonald’s Canada Head Quarters. If you’re a fan of McDonald’s or fast food, secret menu items are nothing new.  McDonald’s crew and managers across Ontario were challenged to create the ultimate secret menu breakfast or dessert item using existing McDonald’s ingredients.  After hundreds of submissions, 8 finalists were selected and faced off for the final round of The Secret Secret Menu Challenge in Toronto.  They prepared, presented and served their Secret Secret Menu creation for a judging panel of McDonald’s Canada executives including President and CEO John Betts. This was an awesome program from McDonald's Canada, that allowed their Ontario employees to show off their creative side. Competitors working with McDonald's Menu Development Team in the McDonald's Canada Test Kitchen

Magic Moments French Toast by Lyn Vaillancourt (North Bay, ON)

I got to check out the action up close in the McDonald’s Test Kitchen where the menu development team helped perfect the recipes prior to judging.  There were a lot of creative entries and judging was based on appearance, mass appeal, creativity and of course, taste. The finalists were all McDonald’s employees, including high school students, a restaurant manager and a grandmother!  As a fan of McDonald’s, it was awesome to see all the creative dishes that screamed McD’s, from French Toast Big Mac Buns and McBreakfast Bowls to Apple Pie Fries and awesome McFlurry creations.  The Secret Secret Menu Challenge finalists came from far and wide, including North Bay, Windsor, Guelph and Toronto.

McDonald's Canada President and CEO John Betts impressed by the McCristo by Mary Bell (Windsor, ON)

Premium Brownie Hotcakes by Zaid Karsiem (Guelph, ON)

There was a ton of excitement in the room, and also some nerves.  Making these at their home restaurants was one thing, but making these for an esteemed panel of judges was another.  Did I mention there was also a $10,000 grand prize on the line? Second place got $5000, third place got $2500 and the other finalists each took home $500. It was a great day for all, but the competitiveness was displayed when they presented and spoke about their creations.  Terence Yu Asensi from Richmond Hill gave an emotional speech explaining how his Apple Pie Fries represented his life and almost triggered a standing ovation. High school student Zaid Karsiem from Guelph let the judges know that he had to miss his basketball game to make the trip to Toronto to present his hotcakes covered in a mountain of brownies.

Caramel Glazed Apple Pie Fries by Terence Yu Asensi (Richmond Hill, ON)

Terence Yu Asensi giving an emotional speech on his Caramel Glazed Apple Pie Fries

In the end, Amanda Miller from Orangeville, Ontario, won the Secret Secret Menu challenge with her McBerry creation and took home a giant $10,000 cheque.  Gabrielle Girard from North Bay took home 2nd place with her Cookie Monster ice cream creation and Terence Yu Asensi won 3rd place with his apple pie fries.  Giant cheques for everyone!

Cookie Monster by Gabrielle Girard (North Bay, ON)

Bibi Zai Batasar (Toronto, ON) with her McBreakfast Bowl

Along with the judges, I got to taste each of the Secret Secret Menu items made by the 8 finalists. Lots of sweets with it being a breakfast/ dessert challenge, but I survived.  I spoke to one of the judges, Victor Rocca (Regional Vice President – Ontario) afterwards, who was impressed by the creativity and passion from all the competitors. It was pretty amazing to experience this, as secret McD’s items have been an interest of mine for a long time.  There’s just so much you can make from McD’s items.  What’s your favourite secret menu item?

The McBerry by Amanda Miller (Orangeville, ON)

Secret Secret Menu Challenge 2016 Winner Amanda Miller with her $10,000 first place cheque

The competitors and judges of McDonald's Secret Secret Menu Challenge 2016

The 2016 Secret Secret Menu Finalists and Creations

The McBerry- 1st place

  • Amanda Miller (Orangeville, ON)

Cookie Monster- 2nd place

  • Gabrielle Girard (North Bay, ON)

Caramel Glazed Apple Pie Fries- 3rd place

  • Terence Yu Asensi (Richmond Hill, ON)

Magic Moments French Toast

  • Lyn Vaillancourt (North Bay, ON)

Premium Brownie Hotcakes

  • Zaid Karsiem (Guelph, ON)

McBreakfast Bowl

  • Bibi Zai Batasar (Toronto, ON)

Caramel Apple Pie McFlurry

  • Josiah Fillmore (Bellville, ON)


  • Mary Bell (Windsor, ON)

The 2016 Secret Secret Menu Judges

John Betts, McDonald’s Canada CEO

Victor Rocca,  Regional Vice President - Ontario

Nicola Pitman, Director of Menu Management

Antoinette Benoit, SVP Chief Marketing Officer

Karen Bishop, Vice President McOpCo

Michael Forman, Whitby Franchisee

Honourary Judge - Hubert Leung, GoodFoodToronto


Enter below for your chance to win a $100 McDonald's Canada Gift Card


Tell us in the comments below which McDonald's Secret Secret Menu Challenge item you would want to try.


  • The contest will run from Tues Jan 3rd to Tues Jan 10th - 2017  12:00 AM EST
  • There is only 1 winner and the prize is not transferable.
  • Only one entry allowed per person.
  • All winners must be willing to provide their full name, e-mail address and a mailing address.
  • The contest is opened to Canadian residents only.
  • The winner will be chosen at random
  • The winner will be notified by email and must respond before the deadline indicated in the email. Failure to respond in a timely manner means that another prize winner will be chosen.

Good luck!