Blogging has sent me on some weird and wonderful journeys but this might just be the weirdest. I never imagined that I'd see the kitchen of McDonald's, let alone be asked to write about it. And yet, last week, I found myself whizzing away from work earlier than usual, so I could get to an event at McDonald's, ten minutes from Digbeth and a short walk from the Birmingham City ground.
I don't need to tell you about McDonald's do I? The vast majority of people have had one at some point. As a birthday treat as a child, as a hungover student, as a hungover full on adult, before popping to the cinema, to collect tokens for the McDonald's monopoly or just because everyone in the office suddenly wanted a McFlurry. And that's just my memories.
I was at McDonald's to learn about how they are changing and adapting to make a visit more straight-forward and ensure fresher food.
The main change is the self-service machines. I've already used these a few times and they are fantastic. You simply choose what you want, what sides and what drinks, then pay using a card. As you can see above, you can also customise what is on it. Always scrape off the pickles? Just click the tick and it turns to a cross. Simple and much easier than asking at the till. They are able to do this because everything is now cooked to order. Nothing is left to heat and get a bit sad.
Another option is table service. You might have heard about this and been a bit confused; I know I was before experiencing it. Basically, when you have put your order through on the machine, you can choose if you'd like your food brought over to you. Just pick a zone and put your receipt at the end of your table.
This is perfect for parents, shoppers, those with heavy bags or just someone feeling like they need a good sit down!
Other innovations include tablets to use at the table, with games and videos etc on them. Particularly popular with teenagers I imagine. The Happy Meal selection also has the healthy options (fruit, carrot sticks, juice) come up before the chips and fizzy drinks. Genius.
I was most intrigued about seeing the kitchen and how everything is cooked. I worked in catering and retail for almost a decade before I was a teacher so I thought I knew what a kitchen looked like. Not a McDonald's kitchen! Everything has been specifically designed to keep things fresh, hygienic and simple and quick to prepare.
The beef burgers are kept frozen and handled with gloves.
They are then put in a special burger press which is timed and grills on both sides so they don't need flipping. They are quickly seasoned and then placed in a heated tray- those burgers can only be used for the next twenty minutes and there is a timer on the tray to tell you when to stop using them.
We also saw the excitement of the bun toasting machine which is literally a giant machine. You pop the bun in the slot at the top and it comes out toasted.
The Big Mac bun is in three pieces, which I'd never really thought of before. There's a special order to put them in the box, which keeps things neat. Next up, BIG MAC SAUCE which people go crazy over. I still don't know what it is but it is shot onto the bread in an exciting sauce gun.
Now it was my turn! We were taken to the staff room (I felt a bit bad as there was a guy trying to enjoy his break in there) and given a hat and apron, which took me back. I always hated what those hats did to my fringe.
Give me an hour though...
Look how proud I am!
I was really proud of my Big Mac and really enjoyed eating it. I was never into Big Macs before because I had the idea that they had been made hours before and had gone a bit naff. Now I know how they are freshly made I may be more tempted to go for one.
McDonald's seem to be making a great effort to stay ahead of the curve in fast food, especially when it comes to families. The fact that healthy options are offered first to children is just brilliant. As an adult, I appreciate being able to order my food quickly and easily on the self-service machine and knowing everything is cooked fresh.
For more information, check out the McDonald's website http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome/whatmakesmcdonalds.html
This was a sponsored post. I was paid for my time in attending and writing this post. However, all opinions are my own.