He has a hand in the diets of more than 26 million Americans every day, yet most folks wouldn't recognize his name.
Chef Daniel Coudreaut is senior director of culinary innovation for McDonald's USA, shaping the menu that we'll gaze upon when we pull into the drive-through or walk up to the counter of one of the nearly 14,000 U.S. outlets of the fast-food giant.
With a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, this one-time child actor used to cook at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dallas and other fine restaurants before switching to corporate kitchens. He joined McDonald's in 2004. The year coincided with the release of "Super Size Me," the documentary by Morgan Spurlock, who chronicled his physical decline after eating nothing but McDonald's food (often super-sized meals) for a month.
Coudreaut isn't shy about defending his menu or about the fact that McDonald's is a corporation interested in making money. Its menu reflects what sells, he said.
"I don't see anything on the menu that's unhealthy," Coudreaut said.
A year after the Spurlock film was released, McDonald's customer base had increased by 1 million -- those are the folks that McDonald's and Coudreaut listen to and aim to please.
When asked whether he feels a responsibility for his company's role in the current American obesity epidemic, Coudreaut said he feels mostly a responsibility to his own children, a daughter, age 11, and a son, 7, to guide their eating habits and control what they eat. "I control what goes into their mouths," he said.
And yes, his children eat at McDonald's about once a week, most often when his wife is shuttling his daughter to soccer games and practice. His son still prefers the Happy Meal for the toy inside, and yes, that includes Chicken McNuggets.
Coudreaut defends McNuggets, saying they are the same thing that culinarians would refer to as a "forcemeat." Now made with all white meat (they used to be made with dark meat), the chicken is ground, shaped, tempura battered and fried.
"I feed them to my children," he said.