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Redefining In-Flight Catering

Van Nuys Flight Attendant – Erin Ivko

Erin Ivko - Flight Attendant Private Aviation

Erin Ivko is a corporate contract flight attendant based out of Van Nuys, California. She has over four years of experience operating on a variety of aircraft, including Gulfstreams, Challengers and BBJs. She has a lot of great information to share aboutthe Los Angeles area and her experiences with private aviation, so let’s learn more about Erin.

Lately, Erin has been flying on a 737 BBJ. She says the experience is “much different from the heavy jets. The 737 has a lot more galley space, and more room for creating a comfortable flight for the passengers.” She is a Flight Safety graduate and just had her last recurrent training in January of 2014. Erin also had the honor of receiving the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)’s MedAire Scholarship in 2013.

While Erin enjoys Van Nuys because of its location near Los Angeles, she says she is “a beach person, so I spend my free time in Malibu, Santa Monica or Venice. The Getty Museum is really close to Van Nuys, and, with gorgeous views of LA and the coast line, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon. There are plenty of great hikes, and the weather is perfect for exploring all the neighborhoods in LA. I do a lot of yoga. Being in aviation has my body adapting to different time zones, climates and cultures, so I really find my balance on my mat. It helps a lot.”

Erin is truly a world traveler, and her first around the world trip was via Orange County; Dallas, Texas; Milan, Italy; the Maldives; Taipei, Taiwan; Petro, Russia; and ending in Orange County. She has also operated to the southern hemisphere and recalls her first crossing, when the pilots brought her to the cockpit for a mini-ceremony to commemorate the landmark flight. Sounds like she has had many amazing experiences as a flight attendant!

Since Erin has visited several locations during her career, we asked her to name some of her top picks. She answered, “Maui, because it is paradise all year round, and you get the laid-back island life without having to change currencies. Maui is great for enjoying snorkeling, friendly locals, beautiful beaches and the ‘aloha’ spirit. Paia is my favorite town there.

“Another favorite destination is New York, because I love the city. It’s a surprisingly great place to visit by yourself, too. There are so many neighborhoods to explore: Soho and the West Village are my favorites. You can get lost in one of the many amazing museums, take a ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, stay out until the morning with friends, have dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant, or pick up something from Eataly and relax in the park. The options/opportunities are endless, and the best part is, you don’t have to get in a car to do any of these things. Two feet is all you need.”

Aside from aviation, she is also passionate about yoga and good food, and she is a trained sushi chef. When it comes to food, Erin says she “will try anything twice. I like finding the best local specialties, wherever I am. I learn a little from every place I go.” When asked what her favorite meal is, she replied that it “is any meal shared with family and/or friends. Great conversation, atmosphere, and a simple meal accompanied by a glass of wine. It could be grilled cheese sandwich, if all three of those elements are there.”

While in Van Nuys, Erin enjoys eating at Crave Cafe. She says, “It’s perfect for early departures, as it is open 24 hours. The food is really good, and it is very convenient. I always stop by Whole Foods and get a salad bar or something from their hot bar. They also have a juice station there: ginger shots and green smoothies.”

When it comes to dining out in the Los Angeles area, her local favorites include “sushi in Santa Monica at Sasabune (‘Sit at the sushi bar for ‘omakase,’ which means ‘the chef’s choice’’), the Brisket Bahn Mi from Gjelina Takeaway (GTA) in Venice (‘my all-time favorite sandwich, ever!’), or Cleo in Hollywood (‘Their Brussels sprouts are out of this world!’)”

Also, Erin enjoys anything from Cafe Gratitude downtown: “With menu items named, ‘I am Whole’ and ‘I am Awesome,’ you can’t help but feel great after eating there. Farmshop in Brentwood is the cutest restaurant, with amazing food and a great ambiance. In Malibu, I like to get food to go from Malibu Kitchen and walk across the street to the beach for a picnic.”

With all of this talk about food, we wanted to hear about any in-flight catering challenges Erin has faced. She explained that the biggest challenge is “not knowing the passengers wants. The more information I have on their likes versus dislikes, the less time it takes me to gauge that in-flight.” To further illustrate the point, she added, “I once flew one of my favorite country music artists and found some great BBQ for him. I was excited for the flight. Come to find out, he is vegan, and I was never told of his dietary restrictions. Luckily, I was able to give him the grilled vegetable and hummus plate I had brought for myself.”

Erin loves being a flight attendant because “there is always room for advancement and always something new to learn. You get out of it what you put into it. If you take the time to go to extra safety or culinary classes, they definitely come in handy. I feel so blessed to be able to see the world, and I hope for many more trips in the future. I’m also thankful for amazing in-flight catering that makes me look like an amazing chef at 45,000 feet!” If you are in Van Nuys, or need a flight attendant with worldwide experience, contact Erin Ivko at erin_ivko@yahoo.com.

This article is part of a series of interviews we are conducting with contract cabin crew members; individuals not employed by Air Culinaire Worldwide. If you would like to be considered for an interview, which is posted on our blog and all of our social media accounts, please contact socialmedia@airculinaire.com.

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