David Mattingly discovers the ‘hard way’ to make KFC

By David Mattingly | WAVE 3 News

I have been eating Kentucky Fried Chicken just about all my life. As a child, I even once met the Colonel.

But it wasn’t until recently that I found out how much work goes into just getting the chicken into the bucket.

In Louisville’s KFC corporate kitchen, Head Chef Bob Das took me through every meticulous step. He calls it, “the Colonel’s way.”

David Mattingly KFC
Head Chef Bob Das showed me “the hard way” to make chicken.

“(The Colonel) used the expression ‘the hard way,’” Das said. “Which is basically his way of saying doing it the right way and being consistent.”

That consistency is something I came to appreciate in my travels. The KFC I have eaten in exotic locations like Cairo, Bangkok and South Africa tasted exactly like the KFC my grandparents would buy in Middletown when we would visit for Sunday dinner.

Known for the Colonel’s secret blend of 11 herbs and spices, Chef Das revealed KFC also has a formula for consistency and it relies heavily on repetition.

“First, we make sure there’s no broken bones or anything like that,” Das said as he inspected and massaged cut pieces of chicken.

Loose skin is then pulled tight to improve coverage and the pieces are loaded into a basket for a series of “7s.”

The chicken is dipped in water for 7 seconds.

It is drained for 7 seconds, and shaken 7 times.

Dipped into the powdery blend of flour and 11 herbs and spices, it is then tossed 7 times and shaken 7 times to remove excess.

It is then loaded onto a rack and fried in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes.


On a busy day, Das says a KFC cook could repeat the process 15 to 20 times in a day.

After 20 years on the job, I suggested he could probably cook chicken in his sleep.

“I could definitely do it blindfolded,” he laughed. “I don’t know about in my sleep.”

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