An opportunity came up on my Facebook feed and it was one that I just couldn’t ignore.
I have often professed that my favourite fried chicken is that of KFC, an opinion that comes with a bias, thanks to my particular French Canadian partner. Who also claims his favourite chicken to be that of the Kentucky fried kind.
So when I saw that KFC was hosting the
“World’s First KFC Cooking School”, I had to attend and add this to my bucket list. This was a class that will give a few lucky Canadian fans, such as ourselves, the ability to learn how to cook just like the Colonel. Although this did not include finding out the ingredients to their 11 herbs and spices blend.
After registering right away and paying the steep tuition of $5 per person, to guarantee our position at the quick to sell out event, the only other challenge to living the dream was to drive all the way to Abbotsford to attend the class. It is nice to note that, all tuition fees are donated directly to “Add Hope”, KFC’s global charitable initiative to help fight world hunger.
Currently they only had a day of classes in Toronto, Calgary or Abbotsford, BC. We choose the last class of the day at 3pm. I figured this will give them the practice to have smoothed out all the kinks and deliver their best executed class, for us.
The entire restaurant was closed for this special event. And they flew in Mike, “KFC’s franchise business consultant (over over 5 years) to be our host/guide. And to help him, he brought along, one of their KFC cook, working out of one of their Coquitlam locations to instruct us. He too had five years with the company under his belt.
But first debunking some myths. The class was also a chance for them to open their doors and show that they have nothing to hide. They wanted people like us, fans and foodies alike, to know where their chicken comes from and how they do it. That each fried piece of poultry is made fresh, from scratch, and has been since 1952. And in the case of Canada, only using chicken from Canadian farms. The same chicken that you and I get in grocery stores all across the country. There are no growth hormone or steroids used, and no they don’t breed chickens with multiple legs and wings for optimal harvest. Overall there is something to be said about seeing is believing.
So to watch the making of KFC fried chicken and witness all that we learned from the workshop, click to watch the video below.
The event was a closed door affair. The restaurant wasn’t serving guests today. It was just ourselves locked, in and a security guard to watch over our belongs. After signing in we geared up with aprons and hairnets, and then breached their back of house operations. Walking behind the counter, and entering the out of regular customer view, kitchen. An industrial operation including continuously running exhaust fans and stainless steel hardware.
We were given a tour of the place from front of house operations to the equipment needed to run their day to day. From sinks and heating apparatuses to towers of buckets and heaps of of condiment packages.
Our tour ended with their so called “raw station” where the class portion of the afternoon would begin. After a vigorous tutorial on the etiquette of proper hand washing, we rolled up our sleeves and began at the flour station.
Chicken was removed from the freezer and picked through for impurities. The occasional loose tag, or a feather still in place get removed here. The already cut up chicken parts get a dip in water to clean and to coat. The latter helps with the breading process.
The flour batter has their secret mix of spices already added in. Each ingredient and it’s exact measurement is added at 11 different stops. Not one location knows the entire recipe. A few know what goes into it, but not how much of each or even all of it together. It is most definitely a well kept secret.
The spices are heavier than the flour and therefore it constantly needs to be sifted together to ensure even distribution of seasoning when coated over the chicken. This is also where the dredging process begins. With two clean hands the chef performs a specific rhythm of scooping and folding, scooping and lifting, then a pressing and pushing motion to end on. All to ensure the most even distribution of flour on chicken.
Once adequately breaded, two at a time assorted chicken parts are shaken loose of any excess flour; by a shake and tap motion. From here they are arrange on a wire rack to be fried. Like everything else, this too has a very specific process to it. The chicken parts are placed with the largest closest to the edge and the smallest at the centre.
Each individual tray of nine pieces is placed within a wire caddy, with a possibility of frying four trays at a time, 36 pieces of chicken total. Secured in the cage carry tray, the raw chicken is gingerly lowered into a pressure cooker of oil and sealed shut to cook at a high temperature for 13.5 minutes. Inside they will go through browning, cooking, and finishing.
After the allotted time the chicken, tray and all, is removed from its oil bath and allowed to drain and dry. And given the need, the chicken is either served to order or placed on stand by in one of their temperature controlled units. The former guarantees burnt tongues, the latter has it being served ready to eat at slightly higher than room temperature.
Our time here ended with our choice of fountain drink and a box of the chicken we helped make, to dine in or take out. Considering we got a two piece meal with fries and gravy, the $5 admission for charity, made this event well worth our time. Besides the gas, mileage, and travelling from Burnaby to Abbotsford of course.
This was such a unique way to bring brand awareness to KFC. And for once, such an occasion was made available in Canada first. A fun event for those like my partner and myself who are fans for the brand and the food they make, getting a chance to experience it in a different way. I hope for more events like this like this in the future. Maybe ones from Pizza Hut or Taco Bell, as they are all under the same parent company? Don’t deny your cravings.