24-year-old A’ysha Callahan is the food scientist shaking up KFC’s menu in U.S.

Abu Mubarik March 29, 2024
Photo: Linkedin/A’ysha Callahan

A’ysha Callahan is a 24-year-old food scientist credited with helping to revamp KFC’s menu in the U.S. She reportedly played an influential role in introducing the international hit Chizza to KFC menus in the U.S., as per AfroTech.

According to this KFC statement, Chizza first debuted on KFC menus in the Philippines in 2015 and has since been on KFC menus in Korea, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Germany, Spain, and Mexico, among other countries. 

Callahan’s role in adding Chizza to KFC’s menus in the U.S. has roots in her love for food, influenced by her Mississippi and Louisiana heritage. According to AfroTech, she spent more time in the kitchen preparing the meals she grew up loving, including seafood gumbos, boudin, and salmon croquettes.

“Growing up, I was always in the kitchen, messing with stuff, creating random things. I was also really passionate about the functionality of food,” Callahan told the platform in an interview. 

In high school, her interest in cooking became apparent, and she started receiving mentorship from a community coordinator at a nonprofit organization that she connected with through a STEM program to pursue food science.

“When she told me she [mentor] was a food scientist, she said, ‘I share all those other interests you named, and I think this could be something that you would really like. Maybe you should look into it?’” Callahan said. “So she told me some of the past projects she worked on, and it really resonated with me. I was like, ‘Wow, I can create something where everybody across the world can consume it and make it a part of their day-to-day life or their routine, and it brings joy to them.’”

Callahan went on to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in food science from the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Huntsville, AL, in December 2022.

After graduation, she became a quality assurance technician, but she wanted something more than this. She wanted a role that would make her more creative. And so she did not hesitate to apply for a food innovation technologist position at the American fast-food restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

“KFC was just always an existing thing in my family,” Callahan expressed. “We always went there. It’s a nostalgic memory for me and my family. As a child, I used to enjoy the small meals served on my laptop. So, when I saw the posting and saw my opportunity to get in the door, it just immediately brought me back to all those memories.” 

She joined KFC in April 2023 and has since been instrumental in changing KFC’s menu. Callahan plans to examine market trends and statistics to innovate KFC’s menu to fulfill consumer needs.

“Some current trends I’ve been seeing is ‘swicy,’ which is actually sweet and spicy combined. A lot of people have been liking to combine different flavor profiles together,” she noted.

“But, there are other flavors that I hope to innovate with in the future, such as fruity and floral flavors. Fruity-wise, maybe strawberry, passionfruit, guava, and dried fruit. People are starting to try those different exotic flavors and becoming more open and familiar with it.

“Floral-wise, lavender and peach blossom, or any of those different notes, I would love to involve in our innovation pipeline, and I think that would really be exciting and lively to bring to KFC. I really think that’s the direction that we’re moving into,” she added.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 29, 2024


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