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Shining a Light: Learning the Nando's Way

 

On Wednesday 22 March, Sophie, Dale & I got the chance to travel down to the Nando’s Kitchen in Putney. What is the Nando’s kitchen, you may ask? Nando's Kitchen is a (kind-of) secret location where all their wonderful food development happens. Nando’s really take pride in everything they put on the menu, so if they’re not trialling fabulous new ideas to delight its customers, they’re continuously improving their current menu.

On the day, we travelled down to participate in a session called ‘celebrating amazing food’. This is one of Nando’s core principals, and what they as a brand are passionate about achieving. Personally, I heard that I would get the chance to try my hand as a Nando’s chef for the day and I jumped at the opportunity! I mean, as glamorous as the life of a trainee accountant is, I thought I would swap my calculator for an apron and chef’s hat for the day!

After getting to make the brand new Vusa Peri-Peri sauce from scratch (which is very hot, but oh so delicious!), the first half of the day was a wonderful insight into the heritage of Nando’s; a truly eye-opening experience. Granted, since I started at AAF I have learnt so much more about the company and the brand, but this really took that to the next level. I can honestly say that I am proud to work alongside a company that puts people at the heart of everything it does and continues to make a lasting difference on people’s lives.

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One of the most interesting parts of the day was learning about the Nando’s Peri-Peri chilli that is grown in South Africa. Yes, this is an actual thing! And that means that there is no other Peri-Peri sauce out there like Nando’s. The process of the life of the chilli is managed so carefully so that only the finest chillies are put into production to make the delicious sauces that you and I eat today. This includes them being hand-picked to ensure quality, and then being dried under the intense heat of the South African sun. Fancy, right?

However, what is even more important than just the chillies themselves, is how they are farmed. Nando’s are thoroughly invested in improving the quality of the lives of the farmers in South Africa, and have made enormous steps towards achieving this and continue to do so. Nandos’ purchase directly from farmers themselves. By not buying from the open-market, they are actively giving a better, fairer price. They also provide the farmers with the training to help them become better within their trade. They also provide them with the seedlings for the chillies, and also guarantee sales at the end of the season. This has improved the lives of many, including better places to live, helping a large number of women get back into work, and helping families pay for education for their children. 

After such an insightful morning (and a Nando’s lunch – obviously!), it was time to get our aprons and caps on and get into the kitchen. First of all we were taught how to properly ‘crack’ a chicken (DISCLOSURE: tiny bit gruesome!) which involves breaking the back of the carcass, and dislocating the shoulders to ensure that the chicken lays flat on the grill. We were taught how important it was to prepare each individual chicken prior to cooking & grilling it, to ensure best quality possible for the customer. And they do that with every single chicken, and they cook a lot of chickens!
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Afterwards we were armed with some instructions and were given the opportunity to cook some items from the menu. Firstly I was tasked with grilling a whole cooked chicken. Now, some will say that my chicken was “inedible”, or “burnt to a crisp”, or that I should “stick to the day job”. I think this is a little harsh – but see for yourself above (personally, I didn’t even taste it myself!). Sophie and Dale however, smashed it! We also then got the chance to cook some other things from the menu, where I think I redeemed myself with my fantastic Beanie Pitta!

Lots of Love,
Katie B x