My life as a food blogger can get pretty interesting sometimes. It sure has changed a lot since I started way back in 2007, when I was just a hobby blogger, often getting up at 5 am to write a recipe post before going to my day job. Today I work at my blog and writing my cookbooks full time and I get asked to do a lot of different and interesting things. I get asked to judge cooking contests, to speak at book fairs, to do cooking demonstrations, make TV and radio appearances, do book signings, and most recently, to visit a real Canadian chicken farm in southern Ontario. How the heck did that happen?
Well, along with a few other bloggers from across the country, I was invited by KFC to visit a family-run chicken farm near Mount Forest, Ontario, to have lunch and to spend the afternoon there. When we arrived there, the perfect October weather was sunny and 23 degrees Celsius, the farm setting was beautifully tranquil and picturesque, and the banquet table for lunch was gorgeously presented, all boding well for a very enjoyable visit.
We were joined by celebrity Chef Bob Blumer, who whipped up some side dishes to enjoy with a lunch of freshly cooked KFC. Spouse and I are longtime fans of Bob and his multiple shows on Food Network, so I was pretty excited to meet him. He couldn’t have been friendlier or more welcoming. Spouse was suitably jealous.
KFC wanted to show me and my fellow visitors that it serves real fresh chicken from real Canadian farms. I first thought, “Well, isn’t that kind of obvious?”. Then I watched this video debunking some of the myths that some people choose to believe about the chicken used in making KFC. I actually found it pretty amusing to watch. Some people will believe anything.
KFC still stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken no matter what the internet “theorists” say, and the “C” in KFC is definitely real chicken raised on real Canadian farms. As someone who’s been cooking for over 40 years, I think I know what real chicken looks like. How would you begin to create fake chicken anyway? Who would want to eat a “Franken-chicken”?
Silly notions of fake chicken aside, we all actually did learn quite a bit from Bob and lifelong farmer Corrie Vantol. Corrie’s family also joined us, including his mom Henny, who started the chicken farm with her husband 43 years ago. (Yes, her name really is Henny, short for Henrietta. Is that perfect or what?) She was utterly charming and very welcoming too. As well as still taking a keen interest in the farm goings-on, she demonstrated an expert knowledge of the whole operation. This family has really spent their lifetimes producing a quality product for the Canadian consumer. The farm supplies chickens not only to KFC but to other retailers as well; it’s the exact same chicken as you would find in your supermarket refrigerator, grown without added hormones or steroids, as some would have you believe. In truth, both added hormones and steroids have been illegal in chicken in Canada since 1965; as long as I’ve been alive…which is a long time!
The freshness of the chicken served at KFC restaurants is quite impressive. Corrie told us that it was possible for the chicken to leave the farm and be on store shelves or at local KFC stores the next day. While The Vantol’s produce chicken for KFC restaurants in Ontario, locally produced chicken is used in every KFC restaurant, in every province in Canada. No matter where you buy KFC, it was produced locally and never frozen. It’s delivered to the restaurants, hand-breaded and cooked in small batches at each location multiple times a day.
One of the things I found particularly interesting about the chicken barn at the farm was the level of technology used in monitoring and maintaining the safe and healthy environment in which the chickens are grown. The barn is very closely temperature controlled, actually being heated to 90 degrees F on the day the chicks arrive and never dropping below 75 degrees F for the life of the chickens. Humidity, ventilation and other environmental levels are monitored constantly to ensure optimal, healthy conditions for the chickens being grown.
We enjoyed some of that fresh KFC at lunch that day, under that beautifully sunny Ontario sky. Chef Blumer prepared us a yummy pumpkin soup shooter to start the meal, followed by a delicious kale caesar salad with a delicious handmade dressing to accompany the succulent fried chicken. As a sweet ending to the meal, Bob served up an irresistible pumpkin seed candy brittle with selected spices and a little spicy heat too. I might have to come up with my own version of that brittle sometime; it was so addictive.
Look for another upcoming post where I’ll be serving up my own ideas for side dishes that you can easily prepare yourself to make a quick take-out bucket of KFC even more enjoyable at home; including a kale salad that was inspired by a couple of ideas I learned from chef Bob Blumer, down on the farm. It’s a great time saving idea for an evening meal any day of the week, where you can add your own personal touches to a KFC meal that uses the same real Canadian chicken that you always cook at home.
Rock Recipes is very pleased to have this post sponsored by KFC Canada, who provided compensation for this post. Opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.
To learn more about KFC and how it uses real, locally raised, Canadian chicken in its restaurants nationwide, please visit https://www.kfc.ca/kfcisforchicken