KFC’s Virtual Reality Training and From Bologna to Santa Monica with Fresh Pasta

Start your week off with restaurant industry headlines including KFC’s use of virtual reality for employee training, restaurant openings and new foodservice products.

Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

KFC’s VR Training

How can a brand with an iconic, but no-longer living founder manage to echo his values in a new training campaign?

The answer is: by using virtual reality.

KFC launched a training experience that bring Colonel Harland Sanders back to emphasize how to do things the “hard way” in preparing its classic recipe. The training game takes cooks through the process of making the company’s chicken, stressing the particular steps of inspection, rinsing, dredging, racking and frying as well as the necessity of the human touch. 

MRM’s Barbara Castiglia photobombed by Colonel Harland Sanders

George Felix, KFC U.S. director of advertising,  told MRM’s Barbara Castiglia the innovative Sanders would have been all for this new level of training and keen to work with Silicon Valley to find ways to invigorate the 70-year-old brand. Instead of using virtual reality to teach team members how to do their job faster, KFC is using the technology to teach its cooks how to make its world-famous chicken better by underscoring the need for setting a foundation.  It’s a gamified take on the Colonel’s proprietary, once-patented process for pressure-frying chicken, using his still-secret Original Recipe blend of 11 herbs and spices.

“In 1940 the Colonel was just one man frying chicken by hand. Now we have nearly 19,000 trained cooks across the U.S., but they’re still doing it by hand,” said  Felix. “Our cooking process hasn’t changed much in 70 years, but the way we can train our cooks using modern technology sure has. We want our employees to take pride in the process.”

Called “The Hard Way – a KFC Virtual Training Escape Room” the program is designed as an escape room where Colonel Sanders gives his trainees hints and clues along the way to ensure they are making fried chicken the Hard Way – the way that he invented more than 70 years ago.

In real life training takes 25 minutes from start to service in its real-world KFC kitchens across the U.S. In the virtual world, the game is able to utilize the magic of modern technology, such as time lapse, to provide participants with a ten-minute demonstration of KFC’s cooking process.

KFC will use the VR simulation to supplement its robust, multi-step employee training program, called Chicken Mastery Certification, which provides detailed eLearning and hands-on training for cooks in each of KFC’s kitchens. KFC will provide yet another platform by bringing the VR simulation technology to its regional general manager training classes, quarterly franchise meetings, and employee onboarding at its headquarters. Incorporating playful design and game mechanics that make virtual reality so popular, such as the escape room concept, mini games, surprises and a meticulous Colonel who controls the entire experience, KFC’s VR tool is a fun and interactive add-on to the brand’s training program.

The training was developed in partnership with Wieden+Kennedy’s creative technology group, W+K Lodge, and designed for the Oculus platform utilizing the Rift headset and Touch controllers. Discussions began a year ago and it took approximately just over six months to put the training process together. 

“What excites us is experimenting with new tools and mediums to tell stories. VR became an obvious choice to create an immersive experience that teaches trainees how to make KFC’s Original Recipe. The escape room concept builds on the pure training and utility of the experience into something that’s also entertaining and connected to KFC’s iconic founder,” said Jonathan Minori, W+K Lodge design director.

Uovo Opens in Santa Monica

Uovo had its soft open in Santa Monica at 1320 2nd Street. The foundation the menu is fresh pasta made by hand in Uovo’s kitchen in Bologna, Italy, using the age-old and labor-intensive techniques of sheeting and cutting and special red-yolk eggs available only in Italy.

Photo by Alex Bisarello

Carlo Massimini, one of the founders of Uovo, said, “To bring some of the great dishes from my home town to my new home is a dream come true. We put our hearts into these dishes and can’t wait for our guests to try them.”

“Over the past four years, we’ve collaborated with the best restaurants in Italy to develop the iconic pasta dishes on Uovo’s menu,” said Lowell Sharron, one of Uovo’s founders. “We are excited to bring fresh pasta from Bologna and our authentic, time tested-recipes to our guests in Los Angeles, a city that loves Italian food.”

The 42-seat restaurant features a 24-seat pasta bar for guests to watch their pasta being cooked and plated in front of them. Uovo was designed architecture firm Marmol Radziner. The 1,600 square-foot space is finished with a rustic gray-colored oak on the walls and ceiling, and a reclaimed brick floor that recalls the terracotta colors of Bologna.

Photo by Alex Bisarello

Uovo is part of the extended family of restaurants related to Sushi Nozawa, LLC (SUGARFISH, KazuNori: The Original Hand Roll Bar and Nozawa Bar). While Uovo is not part of Sushi Nozawa, LLC, it shares some of the same owners. 

Lady Marmalade is Moving

Toronto brunch destination Lady Marmalade is moving to a new home at 265 Broadview Ave., spring 2018. Husband and wife owners David Cherry and Natalia Simachkevitch partnered with Canadian architect Omar Gandhi to dream up a bright and airy dining space, walled with greenery and washed in natural light, while keeping with the warm and welcoming experience.

Lady Marmalade owners David Cherry and Natalia Simachkevitch.
Photo by Ryan Nolan

“Seeing our vision come to life through Omar Gandhi is incredibly exciting,” said Natalia Simachkevitch. “We feel very lucky that we have found a perfect new home just around the corner, and can continue to host our family and friends, while being a part of the evolution of Toronto’s Riverside neighborhood.”

Recognized as one of the world’s top 20 young architectural practices by Wallpaper* Magazine, this is one of Omar Gandhi Architect’s first hospitality projects in the city, and one of the design studio’s first projects since opening its new offices in Toronto. Contractor Derek Nicholson Inc. is carrying out the build.

Photo by Ryan Nolan

Lady Marmalade’s story begins 12 years ago in Victoria, B.C. The restaurant expanded to Toronto in 2009. The Queen St. location continues to welcome guests until the Broadview doors open early next year.

Fadó Expands Dublin Concept

Fadó is set to open their second Ohio and Columbus location at Bridge Park. The company will be bringing the best of Dublin, Ireland food, beverage and entertainment scenes to the Dublin area. Fadó will contribute to the list of restaurant options at Bridge Park, like recent openings of Cap City Fine Diner and RAM Brewery and Restaurant.

Fadó to Open Second Ohio Location at Bridge Park

With a projected move-in date of late Spring 2018, Fadó will occupy 5,700 square feet at 6652 Riverside Drive.

“We’ve been looking for a location that symbolizes the future for our current pub concept.  Bridge Park is an excellent setting to debut a new look and feel for the Fadó brand in Columbus,” said Fadó Partner Scott Neff. “We are thrilled to get started and to be further inspired by the Bridge Park and Dublin community. Our connection to the community is strong; we are thrilled to have Ian Montgomery, a Dublin, Ireland, native and now Dublin, Ohio resident, as an owner and managing partner.”

Fadó (pronounced f’doe) is Gaelic for “long ago” and is similar to “once upon a time.” It is used to start a story, and Fadó is telling the story of Ireland’s lively and evolving pub, restaurant and café culture. The story of what’s happening in Dublin, Ireland today will proudly be on display in the region’s newest and most exciting mixed use development.

“It is special when we discover a restaurant that complements Bridge Park and the other entertainment and restaurant options here,” said Crawford Hoying President Brent Crawford. “We are looking forward to the food, drinks, culture and energy that Fadó will bring to downtown Dublin.”

HoodMart Enhances Website

HoodMart, Inc., a factory-direct manufacturer of commercial cooking exhaust systems, redesigned and enhanced its website, www.hoodmart.com.

“We are very excited to offer our customers a wide variety of products using the best technology available, including the use of our exclusive Hood Builder configurator,” said Sacha Polakoff, HoodMart’s CEO.  “The system walks a user through the process of choosing the right size and type of hood based on the cooking equipment to be utilized, and greatly simplifies the ordering process.  Our goal is to give our customers the right exhaust system for their needs, and our Hood Builder is a great way to do exactly that.” 

HoodMart designed the site to be user friendly and engaging in desktop, tablet and mobile environments.  The site offers chat assistance and sales technicians are available to answer questions as well.

In addition to the launch of its new website, HoodMart  launched  new products:

  • Zero Clearance hoods are specially insulated for use in spaces where a standard hood cannot be utilized because of nearby combustible surfaces such as ceilings, wooden walls and cabinets.  As with every hood HoodMart sells, the Zero Clearance hoods are ANSI/UL 710 and CUL listed.
  • New product packages including Condensate Hoods, Type II Hoods, Outdoor Hoods and Pizza Hoods and a full line of fans.