- Food and Cooking
What Airlines Don't Want You To Know About Their Food
This is away from reality. A chef would think twice before joining...
When Airlines were created there was a need to cater passengers fast and with concern. The first meals were just carry on bags to keep the food properly protected against weather and any unwelcome 'bacteria,' but from the 4 passengers added to the first mail back in 1929, there was a need to create an industry. Catering couch carts were designed and trucks with special hi-lifts followed immediately. The meals from earlies 60's were a luxury that added a Chef for quality. Cold Plates and hot plates were designed with care. Most wouldn't believe it, but a meal was worth over a 20 dollar bill. But like in any industry, it became a 'carry on' huge load for the Airline Industry, when cuts and downsizing stepped forward on the budgeting chain. Instead of just talking about it lets immerse in one of those Catering places and Interview this 23 years old employee. Let's name him Eddy. He is from down South and found about the job through his family that works in this Facility. We won't name the place, but we will have access to this place.
We get through security and get our Visitor badge. The visit is not even noticed by the top notch managers since we can cammouflage ourselves as potential new employees. Gigantic cooler rooms are shown. We see the temperature below 30 degrees inside. Eddy brings a net for our head and a special jacket for the abusive temperatures. I see boxes of Romaine lettuce, oranges, avocados and Frozen shrimp bags. Cheese from all over are stored in a small room inside this Cooler.
THE ASSEMBLY LINES
Specially designed belts are loaded with plates or trays (The ones you get on your flight) A team leader gives them a code that has been memorized by the food production employees. Quickly they put bread, salt, fruit salads, knives, spoons and napkins... the pace is breath taking. The team leader loads the trolley carts within a short time. In less than an hour they have filled the meal for 300 passengers and the next flight schedule is already behind. You might wonder if we will get our meals on time and fresh, but let's ask Eddy about...let's go behind the scenes and he agreed to be honest. One condition though: Change his name and not mention the Caterer.
When I get on a flight, I avoid to eat the fruit salad and the greens. Do you think... I shouldn't worry?
We rotate employees for the salads, and the greens chopping can be daunting and cumbersome, so I would worry and wouldn't put my life in danger by eating the salad. Remember this. One or two guys to chop lettuce for 20 flights a day. We don't even mention carrots or onions. So you are right Lord. I would set the salad aside.
I have this tendency to check forks and knives on a flight and to my utter surprise they do not look clean. What is the problem? Do you guys are overloaded with work?
You told me to be honest and here is the issue: Several airlines have merged and our bosses are always on our backs to be 'productive.' As I said, some guys are rotated and most will hate to wash dishes and get rid of left overs. Between you and me, I've seen colleagues just washing the dishes with hot water and not bothering using the soap at all. Going through thousand of knives with two hands can be really annoying for some fellows who just get paid minimum wage plus the night shift differential. So you make sense and I would be carefull handling those forks and spoons... but Plastic Kitchen ware have made things easier. Depending on the flights and money issues you will see both choices on your plates.
I've seen this Liquor room caged from all of us. Do they bother to steal these wines?
Some have ventured and got fired. Others concealed within their Jackets small samples, but got caught too. The facility is like a Federal building and we have to be careful with the cameras that you see all over. Like Fedex, we are required to fill a 10 years background on our applications. I don't understand my co-workers at times, but some just love the thrill of drinking a single Vodka sampling, when they could buy one after work. The manager in charge usually is a non drinker and does a good job.
What do you suggest to your boss, or have suggested, in order to get better meals for all of us?
The industry is dying. All they see is savings and we just comply. My boss is tied handed too, and we all just mind our business. I heard that the banks just want their profits and we make less than 15 years ago. I would suggest lots of things but as I said, it would be a waste of time...and might cost me my own job.
So, you woudn't eat a meal on a flight?
I can't even afford a flight ticket these days, but would use common sense Lord.
We leave the place and walk through the Hot plates Kitchen. Ovens and cooks do their daily task. But I manage to catch 4 employees leaving the cool room with something in their mouths. Being careful and saying hi, I see them disposing shrimp tails from their mouths. Can you imagine if I stay 8 hours around them? Eventually these Shrimp Scampi meals will make it to us. Well, only if you fly first class...for couch they suggest scrambled eggs and french toast.
Airlines Cater millions of meals a year and should look over this problem that will affect all of us if we don't act. The caterer wants the most profit for the least output, the airline will want the most for less. As passengers we should complain on our flights. Letting this happen will not help any of us. We suggest a self improvement class for the employees that depend on us, the passengers.