Behind The Scene: MAS’s In-Flight Caterer

    MOST of us have had our meal on a plane, but have you ever wondered what happens before the food gets to your tray?

    Thanks to Fleishman & Malaysia Airlines, we were invited to take a peep into MAS’s in-flight caterer (LSG Sky Chefs Brahim)’s kitchen to see what goes on behind the scenes.

    We started off with a brief presentation on LSG Sky Chefs Brahim  and it was a very insightful presentation.

    Do you know that?

    • Most of the time, airlines would outsource the preparation of in-flight meal to catering companies. For MAS, they awarded the contract to LSG Sky Chefs-Brahim Sdn Bhd., which is jointly owned by Malaysia Airlines, Brahim’s International Franchise and LSG Lufthansa Service Holding AG.
    • Other than MAS, they also work closely with other airlines such as AirAsia, Korean Airlines, Japan Airlines, Air Mauritius etc.
    • LSG Sky Chefs-Brahim’s serves more than 30,000 meals every day.
    • LSG Sky Chefs-Brahim’s delivers more than 30,000 skewers of flame-kissed satay every day. The grilling part is a very labor intensive process, though well worth the effort.
    • A chef’s job is not to whip out every single dish; in fact they focus on menu creation and even provide some consultancy on food preparation and presentation method.
    • In the early 90s, before LSG Sky Chefs-Brahim came into place, Federal Hotel KL provided in-flight meal preparation and delivery services to MAS.
    • Back then, puffing (in the air) was allowed and the air stewardess will go around offering cigarettes to passengers.

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    March Promotion – satays with nasi goreng kampung is being served to ALL passengers while it used to be a business/first class meal.

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    Right after the presentation, we proceeded to the kitchen area where only the staff and certain VIPs have access into. Sorry, pictures were not allowed but we will tell you the full story of what we have seen or touched.

    A high standard of hygiene is a prerequisite for safe food production, so we were asked to put on the disposable hairnets and coats. The sanitation practices were done shortly after; we washed our hands and scrubbed our nails. The chefs were really happy to show us around the premises and answer our queries.

    We were amused by what greeted our sight – a very long corridor where we couldn’t see the end with different rooms at both side. Since it serves more than 30,000 meals every day, everything is being run at a much larger scale.  Imagine a pastry ROOM, a dish washing ROOM, a storage WAREHOUSE and even a chilling ROOM!

    We had so much fun (chilling out) in the chilling room with the urge the lug those frozen lobsters and abalones home! We also catch a whiff of butter from those freshly baked delicacies and butter, escaped from the pastry room.

    All the food was prepared in isolation and undergoes strict controls. Great care must be taken to not to contaminate the food. Behind a glass window of a task dedicated room, we saw the workers portioning the trays after trays of cooked food. In another room, some garnishing work was being done.

    Meal preparation begins about 10 hours in advance of a flight. It is then frozen to bring down the temperature. 2 hours prior to the flight, the trays are then packed into the trolleys we see on the plane. It is then re-heated in the aircraft galleys. As we can see, things got a little more chaotic around the transport area, where we saw runners busy preparing the extra or special requirement orders probably one hour before the plan will take off.

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    Right after the tour, we were brought to the showcase of some typical airline meal for photography purposes. There was a buffet line of various in-flight food waiting for us too!

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    The most intriguing fact that the chef has told us is that the taste buds are less sensitive by 30%-40% in pressurized air cabins, making everything taste bland. The dishes need to be more flavorful but to make things better, salt is given to the first class & business class passenger to enhance the salivary secretion to prevent loss of appetite.

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    The Trays. Feeling nostalgic?

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    The Business/First Class Food. Some was solely for display purposes while some others did actually glide down our throat.

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    Lamb Shank

    beef

    Beef Rib Country Style

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    Lobster

    pomfret

    Steamed Pomfret

    salmon

    Pan Fried Salmon

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    Nasi Lemak

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    The surprise element! Japanese rice for routes to Japan.

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    Look familiar? The drinks on board, we had the usual orange juice and pink guava juice too!

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    VKeong, the famous food blogger from BM. (from VK‘s FB album)

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    Wingz Hansem with his basket of buns.

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    Kenny Sia and Yap Thomas.

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    A Group Picture (from VK‘s FB album). We got pretty star struck too, with celebrity bloggers like kennysia, yap thomas, vkeong, simon, pink stiletto and wingz appeared right in front of our eyes.

    All in all, we think that getting hundreds tray of hot meal served at 30,000 feet is no small task. Most airline meals were being cooked on the ground and frozen to bring down the temperature, then re-heated again right before it was being served to the passengers. Thus, preserving freshness is a huge challenge. And do you remember the fact that our taste buds become less sensitive in high altitude?

    All these factors has made most people abhor and dreaded in-flight meal because it does not closely resemble your usual restaurant food. After such an eye openening tour, I think that it is only fair to compare an in-flight meal to another airline’s food. F&B after all, is a way for MAS to differentiate itself from its competitors and I truly believe that MAS has done a very good job.

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