A Look into a Flight Kitchen

TajSATS Air Catering Ltd. is mega-kitchen in the sky. A joint venture of the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces and SATS (formerly known as Singapore Airport Terminal Services). The company provides in-flight catering at Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Amritsar, Goa and Bangalore. These guys have prepared more than 1,00,00,000 kgs of hot food till 2011, Which offers special meals for Jains, diabetics, infants and children. The TajSats Madras Flight Kitchen has the honour of being ranked 1st in India and 4th in World.

The Taj Flight Kitchen caters 11,000 airplane meals everyday, The Taj Flight kitchen, set just five minutes from the Chennai airport, (“So we can deliver a meal even ten minutes before a flight takes off” smiles the chef) is difficult to describe. Expensive high-tech machinery purrs contentedly besides a row of sizzling kuzhi panniyaram kadais. A revolving sink spraying water jets washes eggs, and high powered dishwashers sterilise crockery, but dal is still meticulously sifted by women, cleaning it the old-fashioned way.

It’s a cross between a busy hotel kitchen and a sterile laboratory. Except for the fact that it’s under unyielding pressure every single hour of every single day. For this kitchen caters 11,000 airplane meals everyday.

Since they cater to so many major Airlines, twelve in all including Jet Airways, Air India, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines and Emirates, they are expected to produce food that is as delicious as it is sterile.

kitchen caters to 120 flights a day, there’s a calm blanketing the entire unit. At the final despatch area, food samples are laid out for inspection, and tightly rolled towels are chilled and sprinkled with cologne for passengers. The stacked trolleys trundle into uploaders, specially constructed vehicles called Hi-Lift (Flight Catering Lift or Aircraft Food Van) specially designed by NANDAN, which then take a special route to the tarmac, where they’re loaded into the aeroplane.

And twenty minutes later, you’re buttering a fresh croissant, 32,000 feet above sea level.