‘I went behind the scenes at McDonald’s HQ to learn burger inventing secrets’


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The Mirror’s Courtney Pochin recently visited McDonald’s headquarters in London and got to take a look around the Food and Drink Academy where new products are created and tested

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Inside McDonald’s HQ where they create new products

We’ve all seen how much fun the head offices of big companies like Google and Facebook can be, with staff treated to free food, indoor slides, games areas and yoga sessions to make the 9-5 a bit more exciting.

But have you ever wondered what things look like behind the scenes at McDonald’s HQ? I certainly have, dreaming of a fast-food version of Willy Wonka’s factory with towers of chicken nuggets for all and Ronald McDonald walking around.

So I jumped at the chance to pop into the Food and Drink Academy at the London headquarters to try out a new product – and I wasn’t disappointed.

I headed down to the head office in East Finchley to sample the new Crispy McFillet ahead of its launch, and can now finally reveal the secrets I discovered…







Courtney outside McDonald’s HQ
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Image:

Courtney Pochin)

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Perhaps not the most magical location, the office is located right next to the East Finchley underground station – so I didn’t have to go very far once I got off the tube.

It’s a pretty unassuming 60s style brick building that at first glance people would mistake for a regular office… not the HQ of a multi-million dollar fast-food corporation.

A closer look reveals a small yellow ‘M’ on the wall on the right and once you make it through security, you’ll finally be able to see the company’s name on a sign over the entrance.







It’s not what I expected…
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Courtney Pochin)

After posing for a photo for my access pass at the security gate, I was taken off to have a look at The Food and Drink Academy.

Located to the right of the main building, this is actually where a lot of the magic happens as it’s where many of the burgers and new products are invented – and the all-important taste testing.

The space, which only opened last year, is a unique mixture of a McDonald’s restaurant, kitchen and board room.

There are giant burgers painted on the walls, lots of the iconic Maccas yellow splashed about the place, as well as plenty of the golden arches on every surface.







Around 50 burgers were tested in the Food and Drink Academy to create the Crispy McFillet
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Courtney Pochin)

One side of the room is covered in shelves, filled with cool McDonald’s nick-nacks and memorabilia as well as plenty of burger recipe books – I browsed the lot and was disappointed not to find one penned by Ronald himself.

The far end of the space is dominated by the most important part – the test kitchen, which features lots of yellow and red decor, including fancy red pendant lights, that you’d never expect to see in your local McDonald’s and a yellow serving window where they were giving out Crispy McFillet burgers during my visit.

These were very tasty – in case you were wondering!







Jonny Wood in the test kitchen
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Inside the Food and Drink Academy at McDonald’s HQ
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Supplied)

During my visit, I also met Jonny Wood, the Food Development Manager who has worked at McDonald’s for around 10 years.

He explained that he’d spent a lot of time working on the Crispy McFillet in this very kitchen, going through the process of testing roughly 50 different chicken burgers, trying out different coatings and seasonings before setting on the perfect one for the burger.

It’s a hard job… but somebody has to do it!

The process also involved speaking to customers to find out what they wanted from new burgers – and Maccas fans were insistent the new chicken burger had to have shredded iceberg lettuce. And now it does.







New products are created and tested here
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Courtney Pochin)







There are even burgers on the walls
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Supplied)

As well as creating and testing out new products, the space is also used for training and various events – including new product launches.

These used to take place inside the main building and The Mirror has previously been able to visit the McDonald’s restaurant inside McDonald’s, which serves as the staff restaurant.

Jo-anne Rowney, who visited back in 2016, described it as being “sort of like the film Inception, a McDonald’s within a McDonald’s…within a McDonald’s.”

She added: “Each franchise chooses its own look from the range of classic McDonald’s style, this particular one was called ‘Forest’, due to the wooden effect on the posts, and the dark tones and brown sofas.

“Everything is the same as your usual McDonald’s, which shouldn’t be that surprising, but it sort of is.







Inside the Food and Drink Academy
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Supplied)







This test kitchen is where the magic happens
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Supplied)

“To the right is a sort of small McCafe with the barista and coffee machines.

“There’s a board up with the day’s dishes, but that’s just for staff. Understandably we’re told not to take footage of the menu as it’s not available in McDonald’s.”

We’re definitely curious to see what the rest of the HQ looks like now!

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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