Mangaluru: I have traveled by plane quite a few times between Chicago, USA-Mumbai/Bangaluru/Mangaluru during my visits to my hometown, Kudla/Kodiyal, also taken air-trips to Mexico, Ukraine, Russia, Canada, Thailand, Gulf and other countries on various airlines namely Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, British Airways, Air India, Etihad, Air Canada, Mexicana Airlines, Singapore Airlines etc- much more than the pleasant journey in the friendly skies, I always liked the airline food, or as they call it “In-Flight Meal”. And to make that In-Flight meal taste better and served professionally, you need the best chefs and best caterers in handling those services.
But as the rest of the world collectively wrenches at the thought of another mystery meal at 30,000-36,000 feet, I have a confession to make: I love airplane food. That’s right. The plastic tray of delicious veggies and meats, sauces and industrial condiments: I crave it. I love the sausages and soft, spreadable cheese packets. I love the bread, accompanied with butter and jam. I love dumping an entire packet of black pepper over my chicken Cordon Bleu (a breaded cutlet dish of Chicken)which is invariably drowning in a viscous brown sauce. When the smell from the galley fills the main cabin and the wheels of the service carts start spinning, I shake with anticipation. Airline food, quite yummy, sure to fill your craving tummy!
Mid air between airports, the most awaited thing on a flight is the meal. And it’s best when the meal is fresh, healthy, hygiene and delicious. Made at the modern facilities of CAFS (located not far from the Mangalore International airport), an independent arm of the CGH Earth Group of Hotels, the meal brings the air travelers the local, continental and other flavor and freshness that makes it a preferred choice with the different domestic and international carriers. CAFS-Mangaluru launched on 11 February 2014 celebrated its first anniversary First anniversary and also cheered when it received the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Certificate on Tuesday, 10 February. During the anniversary celebrations, where the media persons were invited, Vinod S Panickar, Business Manager, Bureau Veritas, Kochi handed over HACCP certificate, food safety management system to George Dominic, Managing Director of CAFS.
According to Vinod, the HACCP certification is only valid for a period of three years from February 10, 2015, after which CAFS will have to go in for re-certification.” As per the procedure, CAFS will have to carry out daily audit of its kitchen. Eventually members of Bureau Veritas will conduct surveillance audits, some surprise visits/some announced to make sure all operations are as per standards/rules. All these steps are aimed at ensuring that the highest possible standards at various levels of flight catering from food sourcing is maintained” added Vinod.
Managing Director George Dominic addressing the gathering said, ” Presently CAFS operates In-Flight catering in tier II cities namely in Kochi, Calicut, Chennai and here in Mangaluru. In the nearest future we are planning to add five more flight kitchens, probably by 2017 in cities like Lucknow, Pune, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and Raipur. By March 2015 end, Jaipur facility will become operational. When we launch a new CAFS project our cost of set-up will be around Rs 15 crore on barring the land cost . Very soon we will be setting up a bakery/pastry shop at the City Centre Mall . By entering into the local market, CAFS has made a huge difference in aviation sector. For your kind information we have a highly sterile area for food production as per strict guidelines at CAFS guide-lined by Bureau of Civil Aviation Security,”.
He further said, ” In-flight catering experience has enabled us to develop tried and tested methods that ensure our customers receive consistent, high-quality products. Moreover, we are constantly evolving in order to meet the challenges set by rising passenger expectations and airlines’ pressure to cut costs. By providing innovative, best-in-class products we ensure that you stay one step ahead of market demands and expectations. Within airline catering we provide-Culinary excellence and innovation, Authentic regional dishes from our network of international chefs, Consistent service quality worldwide, Innovative and appealing menu design, and Full range from premium made-to-order meals to cost-efficient snacks. Delivered to exacting international standards, CAFS also provides allied flight services with a professional touch making it a complete service provider in the arena “.
Also speaking during the occasion, J T Radhakrishna, Airport Director of Mangaluru International Airport said ” Receiving this Certification is a big achievement for CAFS. The HACCP certification for any In- Flight kitchen is a mandatory requirement for international operations. Operation of CAFS here has reduced dependency of airlines to source food for their international and domestic flights from the metros. Ever since its operation here, CAFS has delivered good quality and fresh food, also with impeccable service which has received high praises from the passengers”.
CAFS, a leader in the Air Catering Industry having facilities in Cochin, Chennai, Calicut has commissioned their unit at Kenjar, located within a kilometer from MIA. CAFS in Cochin, Chennai and Calicut have been providing in-flight meals to Air India, Air India Express, Jet Airways, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Silk Air, IndiGo, SpiceJet, JetLite and Air Costa. CAFS-Mangalore right now will be serving only Jet Airways at MIA, with more airlines added to their clientele list in the nearest future. CAFS-Mangalore is the second project in Karnataka, the first being SwaSwara on Om Beach, Gokarna.
This state-of-the art facility of CAFS in Mangalore meets the International standards of health and safety along with tight security protocol as per the guidelines of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). CAFS_Mangaluru flight kitchen is indeed a major step forward in attracting international airliners . When there is a in-flight catering facility which provides safe food under hygienic condition and security measures, chances are very high that more foreign airlines could start operating from this coastal airport. Getting approved by Bureau of Civil Aviation Security is not that easy, but CAFS with their professional and experienced background in this field have been successful in getting cleared by BCAS. CAFS here have opened their facility with world class amenities as per requirement of flight kitchen.
Francis Aranha, Manager at CAFS-Mangalore, who has over 30 years of catering management experience while working with Oman Airlines, chatting with me said, ” Presently our facility has the capacity to produce 4000 meals per day, which includes full meals menu, desserts and cakes. Currently we are preparing around 1200 meals per day. Next month, from 29 March when Jet-Airways starts its service to Abu Dhabi from Mangaluru we will be adding more meals. This facility has a complete modern food processing area with a full-fledged staff kitchen, storage area, hot kitchen, huge chiller and freezer, loading bays, blast chiller, finished product chiller and holding chiller, where the food is stored to maintain its freshness, and many other amenities. Presently we have around 95 staffs with professional staff from other CAFS facilities assisting us, pretty soon we will add many locals to our kitchen team. For the security of the flight and its passengers we make sure all security measures are followed before the food is shipped out from here. We constantly inspect the finished food until it is loaded on to the airplane”.
About CAFS :
Started in 1976 in Cochin, CAFS utilizes the expertise and experience of professional chefs and team who choreograph the sustainable catering services to perfection. Aided by eco-friendly modern technology and monitored on quality parameters, they spell their magic on the assortment of dishes. The ‘No Outsource Policy’ followed at each CAFS facility adds the value of a meal in aspects of quality, hygiene and safety.
CAFS-Mangaluru- a facility built at a whopping budget of nearly five crore which was inaugurated at Kenjar near Mangalore International Airport on 11 February, 2014 boasts of a state-of-the art dedicated Flight Kitchen here. With the introduction of CAFS-Mangaluru, the city has now two in-flight catering services approved by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)- the other catering facility handled by a City Star hotel.