It might not be your first choice for a romantic first date (if it is we fear you may be staying single) but almost everyone craves a McDonald's from time to time.

Whether you're a sucker for a Big Mac or you love nothing better than trying to eat 20 chicken McNuggets in one go, there are certain times when a Maccy D's never fails to hit the spot.

Drunk after a night out? How about a McDonald's .

Movie night? How about a McDonald's?

Your other half broke up with you because you eat too much chicken? How about a McDonald's?

Given how quickly food is dished out you might think that working in one of the chain's 36,000 restaurants around the world would be a bit of a doddle.

But, actually, there's way more to it than rapidly throwing together 99p cheeseburgers and occasionally dressing up as Ronald McDonald, as I found out when invited on a behind the scenes tour of the Southall branch on Uxbridge Road.

Reporter Andy Datson fully focused on making the world's greatest chicken sandwich

I met with the store's franchisee, Atul Pathak, who explained how proud he is to run dozens of stores in west London.

I also spoke with some of the staff, who completely changed my perspective on what life at McDonald's is really like.

Unfortunately none of them were able to convince me that gherkins in a burger is a good idea.

The franchisee

I'm welcomed like a VIP, which of course I am, and taken to an office where I meet Atul.

Atul has worked for McDonald's for over a decade, and his passion for customer service is something that becomes immediately apparent.

You may think your local McDonald's is likely to have a greasy kitchen that probably isn't cleaned very often, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

Atul Pathak, who runs Appt Corporation, based at the burger chain's branch in Uxbridge Road, Hanwelll, has been shortlisted for the Santander Corporate Citizenship Award as part of the 2014 National Business Awards
Atul Pathak, who runs the McDonald's in Uxbridge Road, Hanwelll

"Of all the branches that I am the franchisee for, only one does not have a five-star food hygiene rating, and that one has four stars," Atul explained.

"But even that is not good enough. We want perfection so hopefully we can turn that four into a five very soon."

As I was shown later, there is a very strict cleaning policy in the kitchen, with a rota that's followed meticulously.

Employees must wash their hands several times an hour to ensure food is handled hygienically.

All food is stored in separate containers, and even the cleaning cloths are given their own special area to avoid contact with food.

Atul told me how all his restaurants are like families, so much so that he has seen generations of families work under him.

He told me the story of a new employee whose mother came in to the branch shortly after he started to thank everyone there for the change she had seen in her son.

"She told me that he was a bit of a problem child at home, and that he would often act up at home and at school," he said.

10 pretty cool facts you probably didn't know about McDonald's

How many of these were you aware of?

1: McDonald's first menu items were hot dogs, not hamburgers

2: McDonalds opens a new restaurant every 14.5 hours

3: McDonald'srestaurants feed 68 million people every day

4: McDonald's is the world's largest distributor of toys

5: McDonald's is not the world's largest restaurant chain. Subway is.

6: McDonald's used to sell pizza in the 70s

7: McDonald's drive-through staff won't serve people if they come on horseback

8: McDonald's has a Hamburger University in the US where you can get a bachelor's degree in hamburgerology

9: In Japan, Ronald McDonald is called Donald McDonald due to a lack of a clear "r" sound in Japanese

10: 75% of all sesameseeds grown in Mexico end up on McDonald's hamburger buns

"But apparently, ever since he had started working at McDonald's, his whole attitude had changed. He had started cleaning the house, cooking meals for the family and just generally becoming a better person.

"That is something we really pride ourselves on. We teach discipline and we want to make work feel rewarding, so that our employees can become the best members of society possible."

The members of staff

Look, no-one is going to pretend that working at McDonald's is the most glamorous job in the world, but then what is?

Everyone I met was genuinely proud of what they achieved, and everyone was very welcoming.

Into the kitchen I walk, a scrawny, lanky bloke with a notepad, and everyone is smiling, not questioning who on Earth I am or why I'm stuffing chips into my pocket.

"Here's your uniform," they tell me. I'm about to step into the world of chicken.

Now, I don't mean to brag, but that chicken sandwich I made was the greatest piece of cooking, possibly ever.

The McDonald's in Hanwell is easily one of the prettiest branches in the country

Every burger and every sandwich has a specific creation method, and they are all adhered to very closely.

Not one squirt of mayonnaise, but two. Not 17 seconds for toasting that bun, 16 seconds, you oaf.

I meet Mo, who has worked his way up to become one of the kitchen managers from being a kitchen assistant only a few years before.

"They really help you develop yourself," he explained.

"I love my job and I want to keep progressing as much as I can. I am very proud of how far I have come and I wouldn't be where I am without the support they have given me."

And, guess what, they've even started doing table service and McDelivery, just in case you don't want to walk a few minutes to pick up your favourite burger.

How my preconceived impression of McDonald's was all wrong

I'll admit it, I walked in feeling a bit up my own rump about the whole thing. It's only McDonald's after all!

But, actually, what's wrong with that? Having pride in your work is something not a lot of people get to have.

Who cares if some people see your job as making sandwiches and keeping a kitchen clean? You're making a difference to your own life and to the lives of the people around you.

My father made the first ever McDonald's filet-o-fish in the UK when he (briefly) worked at McDonald's in the 1980s, and I hope that I have carried on his legacy with that chicken sandwich.