Everyone is familiar with a Big Mac. Do you wonder how they can make it so fast? I have been making a Big Mac at McDonald’s to find out.
Who hasn’t been into McDonald’s for a meal? The large yellow M is a familiar sight on the high street and in shopping centres. McDonald’s have been in the UK since 1974 and have over 1,249 branches so there is bound to be one near you. When my son was small we were regular visitors. Shopping can be hard work and stopping for a Happy Meal was a treat for my son.
McDonald’s is a place that has many memories. It brings back family holidays in America as a child. McDonald’s was not mainstream in the UK then and as children we loved it. As a teen, I went with friends. It gave us a sense of freedom to order our own burgers then sit and chat. As a mum, I took my son many times while shopping. Now my son goes himself with friends.
Visiting McDonald’s at the Silverlink
Recently I went along to take a tour of the Silverlink McDonald’s restaurant at Tyneside Retail Park. McDonald’s are using technology to turn themselves into the restaurant of the future. We saw the changes in store and behind the scenes in the kitchen which are helping them do this. The highlight of the trip was making my own Big Mac with my own hat, apron, and name badge.
We were shown around by Bill, who owns the franchise, and the McDonald’s communication team. Bill was the 6th franchise owner in the UK in the eighties and has a great enthusiasm for the brand. He now has several branches and has overseen all the modern changes himself. The team feels like a big family and they all care about the brand.
Inside the restaurant
The interior of McDonald’s is bright and airy with a fresh modern design. There is plenty of choice of where to sit with a mixture of long tables and booths. The long tables have tablet computers which are a great distraction for the kids. They can play games while they wait. There are power points and free wi-fi available so you can stop for a meal and still keep an eye on your emails.
The funky light shades are made from recycled burger boxes. As well as being a talking point, they show McDonald’s commitment to recycling and zero waste in the future.
Ease of ordering
Whilst you can still go to the counter to order you also have the option of using the kiosk. These allow you to go through all the options on the menu without feeling that you are holding up the queue. First you can choose the language to use. This is great if English is not your first language.
The different food options are shown on the screen. It shows you the prices and the number of calories in each option. Children can order their own meal by choosing from the pictures. I did like the way the healthy options appear first on the screen. When ordering a Happy Meal you get to see water and milk before the fizzy drinks. You actually have to click somewhere else to find these. There is also the chance to add or remove ingredients. Hate pickles, just click to remove them.
You would think the kiosks would feel impersonal but floor staff are on hand to greet you and help out. They give you more time to order and you don’t need to stand in a queue. Even better you can chose table service. Instead of waiting at the counter you can sit down after paying and your meal is bought to you. This means you can relax instead of standing around feeling you are in the way while your meal is cooked. You can pay by card or cash if you take the order slip to the counter.
Inside the kitchen
McDonald’s are doing their best to reduce waste in every area of their business and and are aiming to send no waste to landfill by 2020. Recycling points in the restaurant allow customer to separate plastic, cardboard and liquids. All the cardboard is recycled and some of it makes the funky light shades.
Cooking oil is sent to make bio-fuel and every delivery truck arriving at the store leaves with another load. No empty trucks ever leave.
McDonald’s are also looking to use local ingredients. All the beef is 100% British and all the eggs are free range.
Making a Big Mac
Having put on my apron, hairnet and hat I got the chance to make my own Big Mac. This was a big responsibility. McDonald’s put a big emphasis on consistency. A Big Mac must be the same no matter where in the world you are. Would I be up to the challenge? After washing my hands I got started.
First toast the buns. While they are toasting get the box ready to put them in. You need to be quick, you only get seven seconds. The Big Mac has three buns and two burgers.
Now add the burger sauce, a squirt for each of the bottom buns. Add a sprinkle of lettuce, onions and a couple of pickles on top of the sauce.
Next the burgers. Take these from the warming tray and put them onto the buns.
Finally stack up the buns in the right order. This is a little tricky to get right.
Luckily my burger got the seal of approval. It tasted nice as well when I ate it later.
What I thought
McDonalds have put a lot of thought into their restaurants. They are working hard to embrace new technology. The aim is to make things as easy as possible for their customers. They have done this, the use of the kiosks and table service makes ordering simple. The fact they are thinking about the environment and trying to reduce waste can only be a good thing.
McDonald’s are also passionate about helping the local community. They have a history of helping community football clubs. McDonald’s give out football kits, helping to train coaches and put on events every year. My visit to McDonald’s was interesting and I learnt a lot.
I was invited to come along to McDonalds and make my own Big Mac. My opinions are honest and my own.
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