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What are the best practices for catering on board a private jet?

best practices catering on board

Whether on the ground or at altitude, catering has to be taken seriously. When you organize your "Do-it-yourself catering", you need to take into account certain "best practices" and check that hygiene rules have been respected by the caterer.

Food safety must always be your first concern

All food must be delivered outside the "danger zone", which is either below 4.44°C (40°F) or above 62.7°C (145°F). The best way to control bacterial growth is to keep food at the right temperature until it's ready to eat.

Bacterial growth depends on the temperature, pH/acidity and water content of the food. Protein-based dishes in particular can present a higher risk. More acidic dishes, on the other hand, are less prone to bacterial proliferation. For example, marinara sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days due to its acidity. Pre-packaged, shelf-stable products such as crackers or instant noodles, on the other hand, present no risk of bacterial growth, as there is no moisture present.

One of the best defenses against food contamination is to trust your senses - sight, smell, taste and touch. To make sure food is good, take the time to check its smell, taste, appearance, texture and so on.

Trust your judgment and use the same "Go or No Go" mentality required on board your private jet. If you have a backup catering plan using non-perishable foodstuffs on board the aircraft, prefer this option if in doubt.

What types of food can be dangerous?

Several types of food, often served on board business jets, can be dangerous. Particular attention should be paid to the following types of food:

  • Meat (especially raw meat such as beef carpaccio or tartare)

  • Poultry, fish and seafood (especially raw fish such as sushi and sashimi)

  • Eggs

  • Dairy products (especially cheese, especially unpasteurized cheese)

  • Soy-based products

  • Starchy foods (bread, pasta, potatoes and rice)

  • Green leafy vegetables

  • Berries

  • Mushrooms

Food safety: the responsibilities of flight attendants

Flight attendants have many responsibilities on board, including in-flight catering.

Food that has been improperly prepared, stored or served can contain pathogens or harmful allergens, leading to illness or serious complications. Because they handle this food (ordering, receiving, storage, preparation, service), flight attendants play a very important role in ensuring food safety for both passengers and crew.

Here are a few tips:

  • Rely on the packaging, as it can determine the nature of the food purchased.

  • Always consider kitchen counter space, refrigeration capacity, reheating equipment and pantry storage options when ordering from a caterer.

  • When sourcing from hotels or restaurants, packaging is a key element. Many operators carry standard-sized containers - suitable for on-board storage and reheating capabilities - which they supply to restaurants when catering orders are prepared.

flight attendant

Caution is advised when it comes to fast food and hot dishes not from a caterer specializing in business aviation.

Among the most popular dishes consumed on board, passengers may sometimes wish to eat fast food. If you bring a hot pizza, hamburger or fried chicken on board, you can eat it or reheat it and eat it if it is stored properly for 3 to 4 hours. However, food delivered hot always presents a higher risk. Take care to avoid cross-contamination*, and don't leave hot food out for too long before eating it. Best practice is to refrigerate all delivered meals, store them in such a way as to avoid cross-contamination, and reheat them just before consumption. The key is to minimize the amount of time the catering operation is in the "danger zone".

*Food "cross-contamination" occurs when harmful micro-organisms from raw foods - such as raw meat or fish, or unwashed vegetables - are transferred to ready-to-eat foods such as salads or sandwiches.

"Do-it-yourself catering not possible in remote areas: are there other options to consider?

When in-flight catering is not available in some places, or the quality and/or safety of products from local restaurants is unknown, there are other solutions:

  • Self-catering at local restaurants or hotels.

  • Double-buy on the outward journey, giving preference to long-life food products.

  • Order from a caterer at the next available stopover.

The priority should be to minimize food safety risks for passengers and crew, while offering dishes to suit everyone's tastes, so as to provide a premium service in spite of everything.

Before departure, we recommend that you always check whether catering options are available. Including restaurants and hotels. You should also check with the airport authorities at your destination to ensure that certain non-perishable foodstuffs are allowed on board.

At Inflight Chef Delight, food safety considerations are always paramount. Whatever your destination, we do our utmost to offer you a selection of the best local catering partners in order to maintain a quality catering service on board. Even in remote areas, on-board catering will be successfully orchestrated by working with a partner such as Inflight Chef Delight, who will be able to offer you the best solution depending on the destination and the specific requirements of your private jet flight.

Are there any food choices to avoid on board?

pasta alla vongole on board

What we eat affects our metabolism, alertness and energy levels.

Here are a few recommendations for private jet cabin crew and passengers, depending on whether they wish to sleep or work during the trip.

For flight attendants :

On long flights, it's best for flight attendants and flight crew to eat differently than on the ground. It's also important to avoid the "roller-coaster" effect of energy levels, as the aim in the cockpit is to maintain heightened concentration and alertness. And stable energy levels throughout the flight. Particularly on long missions of 8 to 12 hours. The best way to achieve this is to eat small, balanced meals, as well as well-chosen snacks to avoid overloading the digestive system. Protein-rich snacks such as nuts, protein bars or raisins are recommended.

Some foods are not ideal for prolonged operations. Large portions of carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and potatoes tend to make us drowsy. Ingesting large quantities of sugar or sweetened beverages will give you an energy boost followed by a dip. The meal too often requested by the crew - sandwich, chips, soda and cookie - is not a good option, especially on long flights.

For passengers :

If it's an overnight flight and passengers want to sleep, a carbohydrate-rich meal, such as a pasta dinner, won't be a problem.

On the other hand, if the final destination is close by and passengers wish to work on board, consider a more protein-rich meal. For example, a protein-rich omelette or cereal, rather than carbohydrate-rich foods, which could lead to a drop in energy.

Low-sugar fruit - a Granny Smith apple rather than a sweet pineapple - is recommended. Dried meats, such as beef jerky or prosciutto, are good choices.

However, it's important to offer meal options that passengers usually eat, and to be aware of any medical or allergic restrictions, or religious preferences, when selecting meals from Inflight Chef Delight.

Be careful when choosing the drinks you serve.

Serving fruit juices in high doses can have a negative effect on passengers, as these juices often contain a lot of sugar. Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas and other prepared foods can make you hungry. Alcohol can affect some people differently at altitude, and have a greater impact than at sea level. On extended missions, it's important to stay well hydrated. Plain water or teas without sugar or milk are good choices for maintaining adequate hydration.

drinks on board

Foods to avoid on board

Many private jet companies do not allow shellfish-based meals for the crew. If food is contaminated, neuronal reactions can occur, as opposed to simple indigestion. Active flight crews should also avoid sushi and other raw fish, as well as carbohydrate-rich meals such as large portions of pasta, which can impair pilots' alertness by creating drowsiness. On the other hand, these dishes may be suitable for passengers who want to take advantage of the journey to get some sleep.

How do cultural considerations influence food choices?

Portion sizes generally vary according to the passenger's origin. North Americans and people from North Africa and the Middle East, for example, prefer larger portions than Europeans or Asians. The way food is served and eaten varies from culture to culture. In some cultures, people like everything to be put on the table at once, while others prefer a meal made up of several courses.

private jet : Our best practices for your catering on board

Here are a few tips for food handling and service on board:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling food or beverages.

  • Always handle glasses by the stem or base.

  • Cutlery should only be handled by the base.

  • Never place your fingers on the rim of a glass or cup.

  • Never place your thumb too far above the plate.

  • Never use your finger to test the temperature of food you are cooking.

  • Use tongs to handle ice.

  • When picking up napkins, always pick up used napkins with your tongs.

  • Use clean tongs for sandwiches and breads when serving passengers.

  • Keep raw products away from ready-to-eat foods.

  • Avoid cross-contamination between raw products, cooked products and ready-to-eat foods.

  • Clean and disinfect work surfaces.

  • Always cook or heat processed foods to at least the recommended temperature.

  • Do not store food on the floor or near toilets.

  • Keep food preparation areas and utensils clean.

  • Offer a service that is consistent with the cultural norms of your passengers.

Working with a specialized caterer partnered with Inflight Chef Delight is recommended to save you an extra mental burden on board. Our caterers are accustomed to catering on board private jets and understand the challenges of in-flight catering. They are an additional guarantee of confidence, and will enable you to offer a premium catering service on board, and above all ensure food safety for passengers.


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