Some people drool when they visit butcheries and eateries. If you belong to this species, you should avoid Kentucky Food Chain’s (KFC) kitchen like a snake. Many times we visit restaurants and other food joints and we end up yelling at waiters and waitresses for dragging their feet in serving us.
Frequently, delays sprout from the kitchen and sometimes we end up leaving the eateries frustrated and even vowing never to return. Even when some people are asked about their experience they will just utter ‘pathetic,’ an adjective borrowed from Tusker Project Fame’s judge Ian Mbugua.
A walk into KFC’s kitchen will leave you salivating, based on what the cooks prepare for the customers. First at the entrance you have to put on hairnet which according to KFC’s Mombasa Road Operations Manager Patrick Meme says is meant to ‘minimize hair contact with hands, food and food-contact surfaces.’
As I get in, I’m taken to the refuse store, where all unwanted materials are kept. Next to it is an air curtain to ward off flies and other insects which may contaminate the incoming stock from suppliers. The next stop leads to the dry store which is used to store foods such as flour. Adjacent to the dry store is b****y chiller used to keep chicken and other meat. Frozen chips are kept in a freezer. Apparently there are no suppliers of frozen chips in Kenya, a major challenge to the hotel industry who are always forced to import the frozen variant.
“This is a niche market that is yet to be tapped,” notes Mr Meme. Entering the main kitchen, we meet the cooks who are chatting as they share their chores. The 35 employees working at the KFC Mombasa Road Drive-Thru work in shift, each shift lasting for eight hours. All the employees are trained for all tasks involved in the restaurant and for one to become a cashier you have to begin from the kitchen.
“We have a global accreditation based on the universal standards set by our mother restaurant and the standards are adhered to in all our worldwide branches,” adds Mr Meme, pointing at a screen that is used to update the workers of any global trends happening to the KFC world. All foodstuffs sold at the KFC have time tags showing the time they were cooked and also the shelf time.
Once the shelf time expires, the food is thrown away and new stock is cooked. This, is the way the global chain store has been able to stay afloat, despite many other stores emerging, by not ‘compromising quality.’
The cooks are supposed to wash their hands every 30 minutes and this rule has been implemented in the Kenyan branches. Besides, you cannot enter the kitchen without the proper apparel, a rule observed across the globe. 75% of the products used at KFC are sourced locally and the challenge that the restaurant had when it began its operations locally in 2011 are a thing of the past. With over 40,000 restaurants in 128 countries and territories, KFC is reaping from its global presence and has been strong in high-growth emerging markets enjoying 50% of its operating profit from the new markets in 2013.
At KFC is all about hygiene, preparing great meals and of course, a friendly customer service and as John Irvin wrote in the World According to Garp ‘if you are careful, if you use good ingredients, and you don’t take any shortcuts, then you can usually cook something very good,’ something KFC cooks are good at.