KFC opens a cooking school

The QSR gets people close to its fabled secret recipe while educating them about how it prepares its food.

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KFC is answering some persistent questions about the way it prepares its food by opening pop-up cooking schools in its restaurants and letting Canadians see it first-hand.

At three KFC locations in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver on March 12, consumers who sign up for a session will be brought into the kitchen for a hands-on course. Attendees won’t get full access to the Colonel’s secret recipe – the fabled mix of herbs and spices come from two different suppliers, which then go to a third supplier that mixes them and sends them to the restaurant – but they will learn the nine-step, 30-minute process that goes into making every batch of fried chicken at the restaurant.

KFC worked with Edelman on the creative concept and provided PR support.

Beverley D’Cruz, marketing director for KFC at Yum! Brands Canada, describes the cooking school as the second phase of a campaign that began in the fall aimed at answering common questions (and dispelling myths) about the QSR’s food. While the fall execution was focused on food sourcing, the cooking school shifts the spotlight to how KFC prepares its meals.

“If you just go to Google, there are so many questions a lot of consumers are asking,” D’Cruz says. “Is our chicken made fresh, do we cook our chicken and freeze it, it is microwaved? The farm event had gone really well, and that was an eye-opener for ways to answer that consumer interest in knowing everything about the food from the farm to the fork how their food is treated and processed along every single step.”

D’Cruz is referring to part of the farm-focused first phase of the campaign, when KFC brought a select group of influencers to the farms it sources its food from to see first-hand where it comes from. Over the past six months, the company has also been training all of its cooks as part of what D’Cruz calls a “recommitment” to training and quality. Based on the success and reception of the initiative at its locations, the idea came up to open that process to customers as way to connect deeper than just doing a tour.

“The value of getting people into an experience cannot be underestimated,” D’Cruz says. “With an ad, there’s always the skepticism of ‘oh, it’s just a marketing campaign and they make the chicken look nice,’ but when they stand in the kitchen and see all the chicken come out of the fryer and see it looks the same as on TV, it’s more authentic and real.”

Potential students can sign up for a session online, though the sessions in Toronto have already sold out. The class is $5 to attend, with all funds going to KFC’s Add Hope CSR initiative. D’Cruz says KFC is open to planning more cooking school events in the future, based on the popularity and success of the first three. In the coming weeks, it will also launch an “online cooking college” so those who can’t attend one of the sessions can still learn about KFC’s cooking process.