NEW TIPS OF THE TRADE
This has definitely been an interesting year for me, both personal and work related.
Since I left my cabin safety instructor position, I have been contracting for some really great part 91 companies – for which I am always grateful!! Personally, I prefer part 91 to charter . Its always more challenging but that’s what I love about it. I keep learning and re-learning my job all the time! As everyone knows, its tough to be perfect and not make mistakes, so all we can do is try our very best and continue to work on our craft.
In the past 12 months I have taken 3 new culinary classes, as well as researched and tested out some new techniques in food prep department -things like increasing my service time, shortening my pre-flight shopping lists to avoid wasting food, and new packaging techniques for long hauls ( just to name a few).
And since I am a “giver”, and believe in “sharing the wealth” ( of knowledge), I am going to share my latest tips of the trade
As a corporate flight attendant, one thing we do for EVERY trip is shop! Sometimes is just for our “staple” items like lemons/limes, milk, butter, etc. Or, its full on grocery shopping ! There are passengers I work with now that request cooking onboard as oppose to using catering companies so for those trips the shopping can be quite extensive! Sooooo, in order to cut down on both time and wastefulness, this is my new procedure:
First, I write out my menu and the meals I am preparing. I categorize the items I will need in to parts like- produce, protein, fruit, herbs, condiments, garnishing, and so forth. Then I figure out what I will already have on the plane that I don’t need to purchase. I figure out portion sizes depending on my pax count ( and extra for additional pax and the pilots).
Second, Once I have an exact shopping list then I plan where I should go for what items. I do take cost into account because there are always ways to save the company money without loosing any quality! For example, condiments don’t have to be bought at whole foods or other expensive stores!
Third, depending on the trip departure time and length of my day I decide the following- will I shop the night before, or the day of? Or, will have a company like “postmates “ or “doordash” shop for me and deliver to FBO. They are amazing and only charge about $5.00 for delivery!! If you have never used these companies before its worth looking into! Saves me so much time!
Speeding up my food prep and service:
It doesn’t matter if it’s a short flight or a long one, our passengers all strongly dislike WAITING for their food … Similar to ordering at a high-end restaurant, they like to order off their menu and they miraculously expect their food 30 seconds later ( ok maybe not that quick but you know what I mean). How do we prepare for this?
First, I prep as much as I can ahead of time! I pre-heat the oven, chop veggies I will use for a salad or my own crudité, I divide up the meal sections into what is warmed in the oven, microwave, and served cold. I roll up my silverware with my napkins, and set aside with my placemats. When it comes to the oven, we don’t want to warm food too early so it doesn’t dry out but having the oven warm at a good cook temperature will save so much time! I also warm some dishes and serving platters.
I will wrap my fish and other protein in aluminum foil with butter or sauces to keep moist.
I ALSO WRAP UP MY VEGGIES IN FOIL AFTER I CUT THEM, OR PUT THEM IN TUPPERWARE SO THEY DON’T LOOSE FLAVOR OR DRY OUT. Soups I will pre-heat because you may have a microwave that just takes forever!
Anyone have those English pax that LOVE their Tea as HOT as you can get it? Well the hot water heating units are your best bet. They are also faster than the 2 minutes it takes to get water hot in a microwave plus they hold a few cups worth of hot water.
Always have appetizers and starters available to keep clients happy while their meals are being prepared and make sure its something they really like! I also do tapa small plates to keep them happy.
Between courses I also like to clean as I go to minimize the clutter in the galley. It also helps to stay organized so we don’t loose things in a big mess! As the passengers are eating the second course, it’s a good amount of time to clean from the first and organize the second (again, if you have food prepped ahead of time).
I now like to use lemon sorbet as a palate cleaner between heavy courses. It not only buys me some more time but its something different that the pax seem to love!
Want to really speed up service? Its worth the investment to purchase a LARGE silver tray! Make it a fancy one!! One that holds two people’s plates and condiment side. It will also make pick faster and it looks nicer than carrying things by hand.
Not too long ago I served a full breakfast to 4 pax from Nantucket to Hyannis! Not kidding! Not only did I prep everything ahead of time but I also plated it all! Believe me, the more you prep, the happier everyone will be!!
There is a fine line between being prepared with enough or extra food, and having too much where you are wasting money and space. This goes back to that initial shopping list. It also sometimes gets down to experience with the portion sizes and number game and how much to order or buy at the grocery store. If you are worried you will not have enough food for extra passengers that show up last minute or for the pilots, make sure you get some great staple items that you can make a few choices out of. For our pilots- they will be the first to tell you- don’t get too fancy! They are all usually fine with some healthy salads or great sandwiches. I use nuts and dried fruit onboard to add to my salads and make them hardier. Keep a cooler in the baggage compartment with your extra salad produce items and proteins. DON’T order or purchase portions for the full pax count of every item you have on your menu! In the US, portion sizes are pretty big so you will have more than enough if you cut it down by even a quarter. Use herbs for garnishing and get staple herbs that can be mixed and matched like parsley and micro greens. Of course I love to have mint too but luckily it doesn’t take up much space. Also buy these at trader joes or “normal stores”. The high-end stores charge a fortune for herbs. Forget about the “eatable flowers”.. no one eats them anyway! I tend to be a conservative shopper and like to pay attention to quality over quantity.
I ALWAYS have French bread onboard- I use it to make: sandwiches, breakfast toast, crustinis appetizers, garlic bread, croutons for soup and salads, and bruschetta- so many things you can make out of French bread! Skip the purchase of normal sliced bread- it limits you and is wasteful.
Off the subject of food, my new packing style is leaner as well!
I now use face cleaning clothes or mini products like Dermalogica’s line of travel size everything! I can also travel fine with argon oil or coconut oil ( for face, body, and hair),
apple cider vinegar – in a travel size bottle to be used as both shampoo and conditioner! Trust me it works great!
** We all must know by now that coconut oil has a million uses so traveling is the perfect time to try that theory out
I have narrowed my shoes down to work heels, work flats, sneakers and sandals. (In the old days I would have like 6 pairs of shoes with me)!
Rolling clothes really does work, and I bought a small portable clothes steamer to use instead of trusting my hotel will have a decent iron!
Personal changes I forgot to mention, We now live in Lake Tahoe part time ! Its so nice to have a quiet place to get away, as well as easy commute to my bay area flying jobs!!
As always, feel free to comment or add anything of your own to this blog entry!
And ask questions!!
Love and happy wishes,
Cobblestones and heels