Last year Air Culinaire Worldwide was invited to place an onboard chef on a private A-319 traveling the entire globe for 26 days with Lakani World Tours, a luxury travel company. I was fortunate to be selected for the task last year, and was invited to return for this year’s tour. We started out in Seattle October 6 and returned to Boston October 28. In between we visited Beijing, Singapore, Mauritius, Addis Ababa, Doha, Heraklion and Seville. We were on the ground between 36 to 48 hours for each stop. I used this valuable time to meet and work with the local caterers, conduct on-site inspections, shop for the aircraft, investigate local markets and, of course, experience local dishes.
The menu for each location was four to five courses, depending upon the block of time spent in-flight. All meals were trolley service. This means I got to serve each guest, one by one, their personal selections of each menu item from the trolley. Traditionally, passengers like to try a little of everything on the menu. Due to this, attempting to beautifully plate a mixture of components can be challenging at times, but it was nothing a fresh sprig of herb couldn’t make more beautiful.
The customized private jet had one flight oven in the aft, one in forward and, before the first flight, no microwave. The hot items would not fit in one oven, so I constantly found myself running the length of the aircraft to heat the selections and rebuild the cart for each group of passengers. I have worked in many small kitchens in my lifetime, but this one took the cake! I was assisted by three wonderful cabin assistants who worked directly with me to provide every aspect of the expected high-end service. We also had the pleasure of having an engineer who also has fine-dining service background.
The 18 passengers held extremely high expectations for this excursion, so the service they received in-flight had to be comparable to the service they have received at five-star resorts. With great caterers, a fantastic flight crew, support from the team back home and my ability to adjust to the unseen – we had a very successful trip around the world. The rest of this blog series will cover each location in detail, so check back soon.
This is the first part of a series on my personal experiences as an onboard chef touring the world in a luxury private jet. If you have any questions about in-flight catering, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.