Pre-trip Planning Tips for International In-Flight CateringJuly 31, 2014 by Jennifer Walton
While you may have local catering down to a science, sourcing catering internationally involves more flexibility. Preferred brands and favorite dishes may need to be substituted due to availability in the region, or you may receive your in-flight catering packaged in a manner that may not be appropriate for your galley. Ordering private aviation catering worldwide, even at remote locations, can be successful and rewarding by planning adequately and by working with what is presented to you.
Key points to remember when placing an in-flight catering order for an international location are the differences in portion size, units of measurement, available packaging styles, and cultural terminology. When placing the order, be specific regarding portion sizes and understand the metric and imperial equivalents. For example, a protein portion is 4-6 ounces in most of the world, but an 8 ounce portion is typical in the United States. You should be prepared to convert specific requests into local units of measurement, such as grams or liters. It is important to understand that you will be successful if you are very specific in your catering requests, while remaining flexible with any necessary substitutions.
An important first step is to research online menus for the international locations you will be visiting. Use menus as guidelines for determining the best options for a location, but bear in mind that only a small percentage of international private aviation catering orders come from menus. Take time to learn the individual preferences for each passenger and talk with your caterers in order to plan around what’s available and the local chef’s specialties. While ordering, be specific and detailed, but allow for some flexibility so you can make quick decisions if the caterer recommends any substitutions. Make a point to clarify that for safety reasons, any cooked catering must be cooled down and kept refrigerated and chilled until ready to be re-heated or consumed. Make sure to discuss the notice required to change items on your orders, cancellation policies and payment terms. If you are in need of ware washing, laundry, or item storage, be sure to ask for pricing since it can vary widely.
When traveling internationally, the size of the local market will have the greatest impact on the quality and availability of catering suitable for the private jet in-flight environment. Naturally, larger markets tend to have more catering options compared to small, remote destinations. Many countries will only carry in-season produce and those seasons may vary compared to what your passengers are accustomed to. Because of these variances, it is always best to talk to your caterer, as he or she will understand local availabilities and seasonality.
Since order revisions are inevitable, it is important to be flexible and understand any local limitations. Most catering preparation and shopping are done the day before the delivery. Due to this, calling in changes at midnight before a 6 a.m. departure may mean that the changes are not able to be accommodated. Also, when calling, be aware of the local time. Even though some caterers advertise 24/7 coverage, they may not have kitchen staff available around the clock or they may not have access to grocery stores at certain times of the night.
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