Category Archives: Food

The Intimacy Between McDonald’s and the African-American Community


There is an intimacy that exists between the African-American Community and McDonald’s that is quite remarkable and noteworthy.

It is a relationship that, from a pure marketing perspective, is unprecedented and compelling.

While food is always central to the conversation, this conversation also includes community, heritage, cultural pride, accessibility, acceptance and optimism.

It isn’t captured in a commercial, though there were times when McDonald’s nailed the “essence of the special relationship” in that format.

It is an unspoken “nod” that says,

“We’re a part of your family…your community – we’ve always been in your community – and like any good friend, we’re always here for you”.

Yes, there is a special intimacy that this brand has with African-Americans (and Latinos) that is bigger than the products it sells.

Authentic is always “in”…especially in times of crisis.


From the Rodney King riots in 1992 to the upheaval and unrest in Ferguson today, McDonald’s proves that it does more than sell good food.




“In the wasted landscape of South Central LA, everything had been destroyed. Everything except for five buildings. In the post-apocalyptic aftermath, surrounded by smoldering ruins and debris, there were five buildings which had been untouched. Not a broken window. Not a slash of spray paint.  All flooded in their usual operable fluoro lights.

These five buildings all had one thing in common. They were all McDonalds.”

‘When the smoke cleared after the mobs burned through South Central Los Angeles in April, hundreds of businesses, many of them black owned, had been destroyed. Yet not a single McDonald’s restaurant had been torched.’

Click here to read Chuck Ebeling’s full blog post, Rodney King Death Today Reminds of a Positive Lesson From LA Riots




“…McDonald’s, typically framed with large windows, also serves as an ideal safe zone amid heavy-handed police crackdowns, said Mitchell.

“It’s a fairly comfortable place, it’s a place they’re familiar with, lots of people go there and, in a different way, it’s a place that’s easily surveyed,” he said. “It’s a safe place, it’s so much in the public eye.”

It’s a little hard to tell whether we should be glad that McDonald’s is serving a useful public cause, or utterly depressed that traditional meeting places like libraries and local sandwich shops have been replaced by a corporate behemoths like McDonald’s and Starbucks.

(Click here to read the full HuffPost article, “How One McDonald’s Became The Epicenter Of The Ferguson Conflict“)


In full disclosure, I am a McDonald’s supplier.

I have worked for McDonald’s local Co-Ops specializing in the areas of African-American and Ethnic Marketing.  The experience has afforded me the opportunity to view the brand up close and personal for thirty uninterrupted years. At the core of what differentiates McDonald’s is the Owner/Operator – men and women who do more than sell food. In many instances, they are active and visible participants in the communities where they do business.  They act as parents, advisers, counselors and active supporters of their communities.




Inner City Blues – “Food Insecurity”

My colleague, Tony Martinez, shared this GALLUP article, “In U.S., Single-Parent Households Struggle More to Buy Food” with me.

Sobering statistics that underscore the fact that what was once mainly prevalent in only African-American households, is now a far-reaching urban reality.

…a dynamic culinary duo

One of my favorite meals is Chicken and Waffles.

“So what is it about chicken and waffles that has caused such a stir over the years? Is it that crispy seasoned chicken skin? The fluffy waffles enveloped in melting pads of butter? That warm, sweet syrup drizzled over the top? Or is it that first bite, when all of the ingredients come together in perfect, soul-stirring harmony?”

Discover the History of Chicken and Waffles and join those of us in the know!
It is really good stuff.

The Promise of Prosperity

For as far back as I can recall, black-eyed peas and collard greens have been an essential part of every New Year’s celebration.

Some eat them on New Year’s Eve.

Others, New Year’s Day.

I do both.

And I know that I am not alone.

It is a tradition.

A southern tradition with tentacles that reach every corner.

Eating collards and black-eyed peas on the first day of the year invites a prosperous year ahead.

The “greens” represent dollar bills.

The swelling of the cooking peas symbolizes prosperity.

In full disclosure, I will honor the tradition welcoming 2012.

I will take shortcuts…with the help of Goya and Wegman’s, but I will honor the tradition.

Happy New Year.

I wish you good health, the love and support of family, good friends, dollar bills and prosperity.

Cooking with Grease – 14 Suggestions

In his book, Kitchen Confidential – Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Anthony Bourdain, the chef and host of the Travel Channel show, No Reservations, serves up lots of advice.

Okay, admittedly most of his advice deals with the restaurant business, culinary insights and food preparation.
However, in one of the book’s final chapters, “So You Want to Be a Chef – A Commencement Address,” Bourdain shares fourteen suggestions to prepare for and guide a life in the restaurant business.

I found these suggestions to have varying degrees of applicability to life, regardless of one’s profession and thus decided to share them.

1. Be Fully Committed
“Be ready to lead, follow or get out of the way.”

Mediocrity is equal to achieving a failing grade. If one is going to “phone it in” or simply get by on the strength and commitment of their co-workers, they are guilty of cheating. Cheating themselves and cheating the team.

2. Learn Spanish!
“It will be personally rewarding and professionally invaluable.”

Latinos are the fastest growing population in this country. One needs no more rationale or reasoning to emerge oneself into this diverse and rapidly emerging culture.

Suggestions 3 – 6 take on a special significance for me. As an African-American male having worked in professional environments where I was often-times a minority, I have found that there are certain (negative) stereotypes that some associate with African-Americans. I suspect that these stereotypical viewpoints are the product of limited experience or ignorance. Regardless of the reason, I take pride in exceeding other’s expectations of me and my professional capabilities.

3. Don’t Steal
“In fact, don’t do anything you couldn’t take a polygraph test over.”

4. Always Be On Time

5. Never Make Excuses or Blame Others

6. Never Call In Sick

7. Lazy, Sloppy and Slow are Bad
“Enterprising, crafty and hyperactive are good.”

One’s appearance, level of productivity and output are a direct reflection of the individual.
Again, carrying my own personal baggage, I find it rewarding to exceed expectations and “set the bar” high. It sets a standard of excellence for my peers and, more importantly, those who will eventually follow in my footsteps.

8. Be Prepared To Witness Every Human Folly and Injustice

To my thinking this is simply a confirmation that we are all bound to encounter things that will surprise, and in some cases, frustrate us in the workplace. The true test is how we choose to deal with the situation.

9. Assume The Worst
“About Everybody. But don’t let this poisoned outlook affect your job performance. Let it roll off your back.”

Okay, the last part is often easier said than done, but…Bourdain goes on to say, “Just because someone you work with is a miserable, treacherous, self-serving, capricious asshole shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying his company, working with him or finding him entertaining.”

What more can I say? Really?

10. Try Not To Lie
“Don’t lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on.”

Again, enough said!

11. Avoid Restaurants Where the Owner’s Name is Over the Door.+

Everything doesn’t have direct applicability, but my take on this is is that one should avoid people who live in a self-absorbed bubble.

12. Think About That Resume
“How will it look…if you’ve never worked in one place longer than six months? If the years ’95 to ’97 are unaccounted for? Under ‘Reasons for Leaving Last Job,’ never give the real reason, unless it’s money or ambition.”

Your resume is a snapshot of who you are, what you have done and what you can offer.

13. Read!

Bourdain encourages people to read cookbooks. I place no parameters on what an individual reads, I just think that people should read…more and with greater frequency.
Books, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets and package labels. Reading enlightens us and broadens our perspectives and world view.

14. Have A Sense of Humor About Things.
“You’ll need it.”

To quote a philosopher (Ludwig Wittgenstein) –

“Humor is not a mood, but a way of looking at the world.”