I never met a real pampered chef in my life. As part of my 1994 training at The Dubruelle French Culinary School, I asked to be sent to Cara International at the Vancouver Airport. I wanted to know, first hand, how airline food was prepared. Immediately, I was ordered to grill off 75 salmon steaks on a flame grill at one time. They were to be seared with grill marks on both sides til just cooked, then sent to the freezers. The Executive Chefs of British Airways, Lufthansa, JAL etc. were running about with clipboard carrying airline food inspectors, watching everyone like hawks. In the corner was this guy who did nothing for eight hours a day except make individual omelettes in an omelette pan, one right after the other. And then I was sent to another room where everyone was taking fresh whole fruit and turning it into fruit salad.
Sometime later I was sitting on a plane (economy) while the food was being distributed. Usually we only got whatever was left, but on this particular day the attendants were asking if we wanted ‘chicken or beef’. The businessman in front of me was stalling the process by asking our attendant particulars about each. Finally, with only the slightest hint of exasperation in her voice, she leaned over to his ear and said, “Sir, this may not prove to be the greatest meal you’ve ever had in your life . . . . but there’s always ‘tomorrow’”. He swallowed, and then said softly, “I’ll take ‘the chicken’”.
Both those experiences taught me the value of honouring those who attend to us. The service industry is made up of you and me. Not having gone on a flight since 2005, I imagine those meals and that service is history, but the lesson wasn’t lost on me.