You have to create wow factors that make dining onboard an experience
Gategroup is going back to its roots and focusing on food. Gottfried Menge, vp group culinary excellence, explains how people are key
We're linking culinary excellence with operational excellence by investing in people and equipment.
For example, Gate Gourmet is now working with state-of-the-art ovens from Rational and holding workshops so that our chefs really understand the potential of the technology. It's not just about putting the food in and pressing a button, we can programme these ovens to work for different needs and we've even worked with Rational to develop an app which allows us to see the performance of our ovens across the world.
As proud as we are to be implementing this fast-moving technology, Gate Gourmet is still a people business and we are investing heavily in our staff.
We've hired new chefs across all regions, even recruiting from the Michelin-star field – chefs like Dennis Pochert, the youngest ever Michelin-star chef in Switzerland, who is now working on menu development in our Zurich kitchen.
As well as an executive chef in every region we now also have an operational executive chef who is responsible for managing the overall process.
Awareness through training
It's hard to control what happens once our food is onboard but by hiring the right people and working with crew to help them understand our meals we can produce what people expect these days, a restaurant experience in the sky.
We hold crew days and workshops where chefs create and explain the food in front of them. Any waiter is proud to serve food if they are empowered by knowledge about it.
We must not punish those who cannot afford First! Don't serve a tray with 15 items which add up to nothing - you have to create wow factors and make dining onboard an experience. At Gate Gourmet we aim to create meals with atmosphere.
The airline industry is vulnerable so risk taking is not common but we will never be scared of making changes and moving forward. The Absolutely One concept for LATAM was uncharted territory – bringing a one plate restaurant-style concept to its long haul Economy – but this went on to win the Onboard Hospitality Awards Catering Innovation award this year.
This is just the start of a journey. We have exciting and creative management and culinary is back at the forefront of what we do - it's in our DNA.