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Become a master of chicken at BBQ’s Chicken University

May 27,2019
이미지뷰
Left: A view of Genesis BBQ Group’s Chicken University in Icheon, Gyeonggi. Right: An instructor explains how to make the Genesis BBQ Group’s signature Gold Olive chicken at Chicken University on Friday. [GENESIS BBQ GROUP, KO JUN-TAE]
ICHEON, Gyeonggi - If the United States can open a Hamburger University, it’s no surprise that Korea is home to Chicken University.

Don’t let the name fool you - it’s not a licensed four-year college. In fact, the educational center laid across 80,000 square meters (19.7 acres) of land on the edge of Seolbong Mountain in Icheon, Gyeonggi, is for new employees and potential franchise shop managers of Genesis BBQ Group. Employees spend two weeks learning management strategies, marketing tactics and recipes for the 58 dishes sold at BBQ restaurants across the world.

But all that could change by 2025, as the group envisions turning the facility into a full-sized chicken theme park and a certified educational institution open to the public. As if that isn’t enough, Genesis BBQ also aims to become the largest franchise restaurant group in the world.

“We are looking to turn Chicken University into a chicken theme park by 2025,” said Chicken University President Kim Boo-kyung to 11 reporters during opening remarks for a special two-day-long media event held at the university campus from Friday. “There will be a museum, a zoo with 132 chicken species from around the world and various entertainment facilities for children and all the family.”

During the event, Chicken University employees showcased how Genesis BBQ develops new chicken recipes and allowed participants to cook their own olive oil-fried chicken, which differentiates the franchise group from other fried chicken brands in Korea. At the moment, the institution can fully house 500 students at a time in 40 different housing facilities and teach them about chicken in 7 lecture halls and 11 practice facilities.

Genesis BBQ also envisions Chicken University becoming a fully certified four-year college that teaches everything needed for future entrepreneurs to learn about chicken and franchise restaurant business.

“Dozens of parents already call every year during the college application season to ask if they can send their kids to Chicken University,” Kim said. “But by 2025, we may actually be able to take inquiries from parents interested in sending their kids here.”

The corporate educational center already provides short tours and information sessions for those interested in learning about fried chicken. But until now, the group’s main focus has been on developing new fried chicken recipes to better target a global audience. The group was the first Korean fried chicken franchise brand to open a restaurant overseas in 2003.

Chicken University, founded in 2000, is at the front of the group’s global push. More than 30 food and nutrition experts at the university have made and tested hundreds of food recipes for Genesis BBQ since research and development was relocated to Icheon from Gwangju, Gyeonggi, in 2003.

The researchers invented their own recipe for galbi (barbecue sauce marinated) fried chicken three years before the concept took Korea by storm after being featured in the recently released film “Extreme Job,” a spokesperson for the Genesis BBQ Group said.

“We already had recipes for most of the newly released and popular chicken types out on the market these days,” he added. “We have always just waited for the right time to release them.”

With hundreds of secret recipes in its hands, Genesis BBQ is also looking to become the No. 1 restaurant franchise group in the world by operating a total of 50,000 restaurants in 197 countries by 2025.

Since starting operations in a small office in 1995, the group grew to operate 1,695 restaurants across the country in 2017 and has launched more than 350 restaurants in 57 countries overseas. The fried chicken group is confident it can do better as it expects global chicken consumption to rise in the future.

“As a country becomes more developed, its people start consuming less beef and pork, switching to eat chicken,” the spokesperson said. “Korea’s chicken consumption has been steadily rising as well to follow this trend.”

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Koreans consumed an average of 15.4 kilograms (34 pounds) of chicken in 2014, which is lower than 44.5 kilograms by the United States and 63.0 kilograms by Israel.

The franchise group believes Koreans will start eating more chicken as the country recently reached $30,000 in per-capita gross national income; as income levels rise, people start looking for healthier white meats like chicken while cutting down on red meats like beef and pork.

“The rising income trend is not just confined to Korea, so we believe specializing in chicken has a critical advantage in reaching the global market,” the spokesperson said.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]