Penn State student named 'McAlister's Menu Master'

May 03, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The end of the semester, and completing finals, usually brings a sense of accomplishment, but for one Penn State student, wrapping up the spring semester came with another reward: a trophy designating him a "McAlister’s Menu Master."

It all started back in January, when Brady Luffy, a junior majoring in energy business and finance and in Spanish, was figuring out how to squeeze lunch into his busy class schedule.

Brady Luffy and his award

Brady Luffy and his award — in the shape of a hoagie — from McAlister's.

IMAGE: Brady Luffy

“I had a class in Boucke Building, a break, and then a class in Thomas [Building],” said Luffy. “I planned on grabbing lunch in the HUB on those days. On the first day, I decided to try McAlister's for the first time. I was overwhelmed with the variety and sheer number of sandwiches on the menu. So many of them sounded delicious, so I decided I would try them all throughout the semester.”

Luffy worked through about three sandwiches a week, finishing up the final, 23rd sandwich on the Friday before spring break. An avid Twitter user, Luffy tweeted each Friday — tagging McAlister’s — with what sandwiches he’d eaten that week, how many were left to go, and his current favorite. He also included a photo of the McAlister’s menu taped to his wall, with the sandwiches that he had tried crossed off.

“McAlister's responded to every tweet I sent out to them,” he said. “I didn’t expect that. A lot of people tweet at a corporate account, but only a few get a response and a follow back.”

Another surprise came when Luffy recently received a gift card and a trophy of a sandwich on a pedestal that reads “Brady Luffy — McAlister's Menu Master.”

“They had reached out and said they would send something, but I figured it would be a gift card or maybe a hat,” Luffy said. “The trophy truly exceeded all my expectations. I also received a letter from the executive chef, William Eudy, congratulating me and inviting me to the McAlister's test kitchen if I am ever in Atlanta [Georgia].”

So which sandwich ended up the winner in Luffy’s book?

“The southwest turkey melt is the runaway favorite, but the new Meyer lemon chicken sandwich is also very good,” he said. “My least favorite was probably the horseradish beef and cheddar — but that’s simply because I don’t like horseradish.”

The experience even helped Luffy expand his dietary horizons.

“Before McAlister's, I didn’t eat avocado or tomato, but to get the full experience I ordered the sandwiches exactly as they were described on the menu," he said. "To my surprise, I now like tomato on my sandwich — and I might have a slight avocado addiction.” 

Luffy said he also appreciated the opportunity to enjoy lunch and share his journey with his friends over the semester.

“They had just as much fun following along as I did,” he said. “Even my friend from Syracuse who came for a visit got to have some McAlister's. My friend, Anna Ciambotti, came with me almost every day and deserves the biggest shout out of them all.”

Luffy said he’s “truly impressed” with how McAlister’s joined him in his menu journey.

“The way they played along and participated with the whole thing was exciting," he said, "and shows how dedicated they are to their customers."

Last Updated June 21, 2019