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McDonald's USA Names Two Young Chefs To Help In New Happy Meal Creation And Testing

OAK BROOK, lll., June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Sarah Ralston, 11, of New Albany, Ohio, and Elayna Saley, 8, of Salt Lake City, Utah, recently whipped up winning stories of nutritious family mealtime fun to become McDonald's two Happy Meal Chefs.  In their new honorary roles, the young chefs will work alongside McDonald's Executive Chef Dan Coudreaut helping in the creation and testing of new, nutrition-minded Happy Meal choices in a one-of-a-kind apprenticeship this fall.

"I've always loved mealtime with my family, whether we're cooking at home or picking up Chicken McNuggets after my gymnastic meets," said Ralston. "For me, it's all about having choices and I already have some ideas for the Happy Meal."

The contest, which launched in March as part of McDonald's new Happy Meal campaign that aims to help make nutrition fun for kids, also awarded the winning parent and child teams a trip to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Ralston, Saley and eight Happy Meal Chefs contest finalists will join kids from around the world to celebrate balanced eating and fun play as part of McDonald's Global Champions of Play program. All Champions of Play will have the exclusive privilege of meeting and playing with Olympic athletes, in addition to attending sporting events and participating in cooking activities that promote balanced eating.

"I loved how Sarah and Elayna uniquely illustrated their passion for cooking balanced meals with their families," said Coudreaut. "I can't wait to collaborate with them and see how they'll inspire our Happy Meal innovation."

Saley and her father showed how their kitchen turned diner makes mealtime fun and interactive for everyone, mixing in foods from the USDA's MyPlate recommended food groups as "secret ingredients." Ralston and her mother together incorporated balance and good choices throughout a full day of exercising, grocery shopping and making meals full of colorful fruits and veggies.

Open to parents and guardians with kids ages 8 to 11, the Happy Meal Chefs contest asked participants to submit a brief questionnaire and a short video online that creatively showcased their family mealtime. McDonald's encouraged participants to learn about and feature recommended food groups from the USDA's MyPlate, the balanced-eating symbol based on federal dietary guidelines. A panel of experts specializing in food, nutrition and physical activity including five-time U.S. Olympic swimmer and Global Champions of Play Ambassador Dara Torres judged the contest entries.

"I was so impressed by all 10 finalists and even got a few ideas that I know will be a hit with my family," said Torres. "Amongst all the entries, Sarah and Elayna stood out to me. They showed how creativity, teamwork and fun are the winning ingredients to making their mealtime special."

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