A’ysha Callahan, 24, Revolutionizing KFC’s U.S. Menu as a Food Scientist

A’ysha Callahan, a 24-year-old food scientist, is credited for helping to modernize KFC’s menu in the United States. According to AfroTech, she had a significant impact on introducing the popular foreign dish Chizza to KFC menus in the US.

Chizza made its debut on KFC menus in the Philippines in 2015, and has since expanded to Korea, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Germany, Spain, and Mexico.

Callahan’s role in adding Chizza to KFC’s menus in the United States stems from her love of food, which is influenced by her Mississippi and Louisiana heritage. According to AfroTech, she spent more time in the kitchen making the meals she grew up enjoying, such as 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.’”

In December 2022, Callahan will graduate from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Huntsville, AL, with a Bachelor of Science in food science.

She worked as a quality assurance technician after graduation, but she aspired to more. She sought a role that would allow her to be more creative. She applied for a food innovation technologist post at KFC, an American fast-food restaurant chain.

“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.


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