A few KFC outlets in the city have shut down, but the one in R-Deccan Mall is always buzzing with those who relish Colonel Sanders’ secret recipe of fried chicken. As a few groups of college students, a grandmother with her toddler grandkid, a father with his daughter who were having a little celebration of their own, and a few couples enjoyed their orders, the store manager guided me to the kitchen for a tour.
‘Hygiene first’ is the rule of the kitchen, not only of this outlet, but of all KFC kitchens around the world. Hence I had to wear a shower cap and make sure that not one strand of hair could be visible. Everyone who enters the kitchen area must wear this cap. Walking in from the restaurant area, you first enter the service counter. This is where the staff takes orders and serves your food. The prepared food is kept in the heating chamber, from where it is dispensed according to orders received. Every few minutes, the stock is checked for safety and changed if the temperature has dropped from the optimum.
A portion of this space is dedicated to frying and making the vegetarian items on the menu. All this is done by the staff members who wear green aprons to signify that they are working in the vegetarian section. There is a different set of staff that works with chicken. A lot of effort and planning goes into ensuring that there is complete separation of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items while being prepared and served. The vegetarian stock is kept separate from the chicken, even the buns for the vegetarian burgers are kept separately.
Past this area, there is the storage and assembly section where the burgers and wraps etc are made and packed and put into the heating chamber in the service counter. Behind this section is the frying area, where the chicken is breaded and fried. But before the employee enters, it is mandatory for them to wash their hands in the basin conveniently placed at the entrance of this section. The chicken is hand-breaded and rocked (in a sea-saw motion) seven times and then fried at a minimum of 170 degree Celsius to get that “finger lickin’ good” taste.While breading, they do not wear gloves as there can be chances of plastic entering the food.
However, it is mandatory that all kitchen staff members wash and sanitise their hands every 30 minutes every single day. There is a griller used to make their special Smokey Grilled variety of chicken, which cooks the food on an automatic mode. The manager informs us that even the fryers work on automatic mode, so there is no chance of them serving uncooked or under-cooked food to their customers. Vegetable oil is used for frying, but of course there are different fryers for vegetarian and non-vegetarian items.
Dirty utensils are brought to the washing space, where they are washed in one sink, then rinsed in another and finally left to be sanitised for three minutes in the third basin. This process is done seven times throughout the day.
FRESH AND LOCAL
Putting all social media rumours to rest, the manager tells us that the chicken is locally sourced from Venky’s, a brand that meets international safety standards. None of the chicken is processed and only whole muscle chicken is used, which goes through 34 checks before it reaches you. The staff checks each batch of stock that comes in, everything is timed and thorough records are maintained.
The fries and the vegetable patties are frozen and kept in the vegetarian freezer until an order is received and it is sourced from there and prepared.
The joint also serves a variety of thick slushy milkshakes. The manager informs us that a fresh batch of milk is locally purchased every day, and put into a machine that freezes it. Though in this state, the milk can last upto a few days, it usually is used up on a daily basis. Flavours are added to this and milkshakes are prepared. The vegetables like onions, tomatoes and lettuce are also locally sourced.
ST READER SERVICE
The KFC kitchen is open for anyone to have a tour. All you need to do is walk into a KFC outlet and ask the manager there for a tour of the ktichen. After considering the rush-hours and how busy the kitchen is at that time, the manager will be happy to give you a tour