PhotoCredit:istockFood on airplanes is typically unappetizing but airline catering company, TajSATS, which has recently been awarded the 'Best Inflight Caterer' for the year 2016, attempts to incorporate inflight innovations through food preparation and presentation.
Seasonal specials, presentation and cost-effective planning are crucial while preparing an inflight meal, says Chef Arun Batra, Executive chef TajSATS who recently hosted a chefs table, organised by Vistara, a TATA-SIA airline service in India here.
TajSATS is a joint venture of the Indian Hotels Company, popularly known as the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces and SATS (formerly known as Singapore Airport Terminal Services) and their clientele includes Vistara, Air India, Jet Airways and many more airlines. "From the moment it is cooked till the moment it is served, there is a science behind the way airline food is prepared and presented to make sure the customer is happy," says Batra.
Starting off with an a 'paper exercise' during which different combinations and permutations are thought of, the menu planning, he says, is an extensive and exhaustive process with health and safety checks, food standard guidelines, compatibility with customers and the cabin atmosphere and storage temperature being just some factors that go to shape a single meal. This is followed by a sit-down with the costing team who cut through some ambitious projects before a final meeting with the senior management is held where more inputs are given to tweak the menu. The menu changes according to the season and availability of seasonal fruits and vegetables, says Daman Pathak, Head, in-flight services. While the summer menu features desserts like ice cream and kulfis, the winter menu promises warm gajar halwa among other delicacies.
A six day rotation cycle of the menu across all the sectors, business, premium economy and economy classes, ensures that frequent fliers don't have to eat the same meal each time they travel. "Out of 12 meals offered in total in the business class, for example, 10 are consumed by the passengers and the crew consumes the ones left. Wasting food in the state the world is in, is not an option," says Pathak.
Airlines like Vistara depend on customer feedback while deciding meals.