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McDonald’s Asked Chef Edward Lee Not to Put the ‘Ed Mac’ on the Whiskey Dry Menu

The mega-chain said it was too similar to the Big Mac

A Whiskey Dry cheeseburger
Photo: Whiskey Dry / Facebook

Whiskey Dry, chef Edward Lee’s long-awaited Louisville, Kentucky whiskey bar, finally opened this week. It debuted with 200 varieties of whiskey and a menu of burgers, but thanks to McDonald’s, the “Ed Mac” isn’t one of them. The corporate food giant sent the chef a cease and desist when it heard he planned to name a burger after the chain’s signature Big Mac, the Courier Journal reports.

McDonald’s thought the Ed Mac was too similar to the Big Mac. The resemblance was intentional. “I’m definitely doing something that feels or tastes like a Big Mac,” Lee said. Like the Big Mac, Lee’s burger, now on the menu as the “Big Ed,” has two patties topped with lettuce, pickles, onions, cheese, and a special sauce. But, Lee’s sauce is a Southern-style Comeback sauce, and the chef swaps the middle bun in a Big Mac for a fried green tomato.

Lee wasn’t dismayed by the letter. “I’m on McDonald’s radar, that’s pretty cool,” he said in the Courier Journal, adding that his lawyer advised him to pick his battles.

Lee isn’t the first chef to pay homage to the McDonald’s menu item. Los Angeles chef Ludo Lefebvre put a “Big Mec” on the menu at Petit Trois, which Los Angeles Magazine described as a “Big-Mac-for-the-one-percent.” It’s one of LA’s essential burgers, but, McDonald’s apparently didn’t see any risk of confusion there. Lefebvre also sells a smaller “Petit Mec” burger.

Its new name isn’t the only thing that separates the Big Ed from the Big Mac. The burger costs $13.75 at dinner, or $12.25 at lunch, about three times the cost of a Big Mac. Plus, Lee notes, although it’s inspired by the Big Mac, the burger isn’t meant to taste like the Big Macs of today. He told the Courier Journal, “Like many things I had as a kid, they don’t add up anymore.”

An ode to the Big Mac - or that time chef Edward Lee got a cease and desist from McDonald’s [Courier Journal]
Inside Whiskey Dry, Edward Lee’s New Louisville Bar [E]

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