June 25, 2012 | last updated June 25, 2012 10:07 am
RETAIL notebook

McDonald’s chef selects Hartford for kitchen webinar

Contributed Photo
Contributed Photo
Chef Dan Coudreaut, director of culinary innovation at McDonald’s, will be doing a webinar from the Washington Street shop in Hartford.utline

Kuhns to be honored

OK, so it seems like an oxymoron to use the words 'culinary innovation' in conjunction with McDonald's but the fast food chain's senior director of culinary innovation will be coming to Hartford on June 28 for a unique behind-the-counter experience.

The East Windsor Chamber of Commerce will hold its 17th annual meeting on June 26 at the Nutmeg Restaurant in East Windsor. The chamber will be honoring Tom Kuhns, owner of Merlot on the Water, a specialty event venue and planning company based on Depot Street in Broad Brook. He is being honored for his community service during the devastating Storm Alfred last October that left the area without power for up to seven days and his work to restore the Main Street section of the Broad Brook Village area.

Chef Dan Coudreaut will host an “Open Door Tour” webcast filmed at McDonald's located on 170-176 Washington St. in Hartford that is owned and operated by Judy Young.

The event will also feature remarks by Karen Jarmoc of the Connecticut Airport Authority that oversees Bradley International Airport. Tickets are $25 per person and can be ordered via email at jim@eastwindsorchamber.com or by calling 860 292-6776.

While most fast food fans think of the Big Mac and the Quarter Pounder with cheese, Coudreaut has been behind such Golden Arches culinary innovations as the chicken snack wraps, southwest salads, McCafe real fruit smoothies and fruit and maple oatmeal.

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Retail thrives in social media

The webcast event will stream online June 28 at 1 p.m. at mcdonaldswebcast.com. The webcast will be led by Coudreaut, Young and the team at the Washington Street store. Also appearing will be nutritionist Nancy Dell who will talk about balanced food choices.

Retailers have responded to consumer shopping behaviors and adapted their ecommerce sites to maximize their online sales, according to the results of MCM Outlook 2012-13, a survey conducted by retail industry trade publication Multichannel Merchant, which is based in Stamford.

The behind- the-scenes webcast will enable each viewer to get a first-hand perspective of how several menu items are made and the ingredients used in McDonald's kitchens including brands like Dannon, Minute Maid and General Mills. Coudreaut will also provide a cooking demonstration incorporating ingredients found behind the counter at McDonald's.

The 10-page MCM Outlook 2012-13 report shows seismic shifts in several merchant behaviors, including how they communicate with customers via social media, the value they put on search engine marketing, how they keep buyers from abandoning carts and how they have adopted the use of QR codes.

“We're thrilled to have Chef Dan make a special appearance in Connecticut for this unique, online event,” said Rachel Deane, McDonald's owner/operator and president of the Connecticut and Western Massachusetts McDonald's Owner/Operator Association. “It's a great opportunity for our local communities in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts to see what happens when you go behind-the- scenes at a local McDonald's restaurant.”

“Retailers from eBags to Macy's saw lifts in online sales of more than 30 percent during the 2011 holiday shopping season,” said Tim Parry, Multichannel Merchant's senior content manager. “Since holiday sales as a whole rose less than 5 percent in 2011, it is evident that retailers made a lot of noise with ecommerce.”

Coudreaut brings serious culinary chops to his role. Coudreaut is a classically trained chef who earned his culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He has been with McDonald's since 2004. This will be his only New England appearance.

And that adaption to the customers' channel presence continued after the holidays. For example, 34.2 percent of respondents said they maintain an active presence in the visual social media network Pinterest.

But by no means has Pinterest overtaken the social media giants Facebook and Twitter — 87.4 percent of respondents said they maintain an active presence in Facebook, and 74.8 percent said they are actively tweeting.

“Considering zero respondents said they had a Pinterest presence when we conducted MCM Outlook 2011, it is obvious retailers are following social media trends and making sure they are where their customers may be,” said Multichannel Merchant publisher and chief content director Ellen Shannon.

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Retailers optimistic

The national retail sector continues to show signs of growth. While national figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce showed a dip from April to May of 0.3 percent, the year-over-year growth of 4.8 percent marks the 23rd straight month of retail sales growth.

Officials from the National Retail Federation say those figures demonstrate cautious optimism. “As the first industry to feel any backlash from consumers' attitudes about the revival of the economy, retailers are far from discouraged by May's sales report; it's evident that consumers are simply taking a breath,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a news release. “Going forward, retailers will make sure to keep a steady eye on key economic indicators, being cautious with inventory and promotions as back to school — the second biggest time of the year — approaches.”

Total retail and food services sales (which includes non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) decreased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month but increased 7.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Strongest growth came in these areas: clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales; furniture and home furnishing stores' sales; and, sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores' sales.

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