How to Become an In-Flight Chef

female inflight chef working

An In-flight Chef has experience of 5 star dining establishments and will use their skills in the airlines first class cabin as well as on the ground. They are also considered to be part of the Cabin Crew team and undertake the same training. If you want to travel and have the experience and passion for food, becoming an airline chef can be very rewarding and exciting because the job description is quite varied compared to other chefs.

1. Research the career

The main duties of an In-flight Chef are:

  • To have exceptional service skills
  • To prepare 5 star high quality meals
  • To maintain hygiene standards onboard
  • To oversee kitchen operations onboard
  • To know how to deal with an emergency situation
  • To know what to do in a medical emergency

Some tasks that you will be required to do are:

  • Attend a pre-flight briefing
  • Check the emergency equipment onboard the aircraft
  • Exceed passenger expectation
  • Be accountable for loading of catering on the aircraft
  • Offer VIP hospitality
  • To work closely with the catering provider
  • To work within the lounge and at functions

Hours, salary and benefits

The In-flight Chef works long haul routes on wide bodied aircraft therefore your shift can be between 12 and 16 hours. You will work on weekends and during holiday periods and on average have 2-3 days off on completion of the trip as well as time off down-route (12-72 hours depending on destination).

Salary is variable depending on how many hours are flown and the destination. It consists of a basic wage, flight pay, allowances and commission. However generally the it is between $1200 - $1800 per month.

Health and life insurance, uniform and laundry expenses are some of the benefits. You may also receive discounted travel after a qualifying period. For positions in the Middle East, accommodation and transport are usually provided (or you can choose to receive an allowance) and salaries are tax free.

2. Obtain the required qualifications

To meet the requirements of the Cabin Crew specific part of the role, you will need to have completed a standard high school education with grades C in GCSE English and Maths or equivalent. You must be over 21 and be able to swim 25 metres  as well as pass a reach test of 210-212cm in order to reach safety equipment onboard the aircraft. Visible tattoos and piercings are not accepted. You also need to pass an airline medical and background checks. As an In-flight Chef you will have completed formal chef training and worked for a minimum of 4 years in a 5 star hotel, restaurant or cruise liner. Additional languages and fluent English are highly desirable.

Skills and qualities an In-flight Chef should have are:

  • A high attention to detail
  • Excellent team work
  • Excellent communication
  • Cultural awareness
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity

3. Get the right training and education

The standard Cabin Crew training course is usually between 4 and 7 weeks in length. Just a few subjects covered are safety procedures and equipment, aviation first aid and fire-fighting as well as security. You will also be trained in first class service but be expected to bring your own experience to the role.

4. Find and apply for positions

You can apply for an In-flight Chef role directly through the airline’s career website where vacancies are advertised. If successful you will be invited to attend an assessment day and pass all the stages including those that apply to the role of Cabin Crew.

5. Research future career opportunities

This is a role that is constantly growing especially in the first class cabin of many airlines. In the Middle East the competition is fierce between the airlines to provide bigger and better VIP services therefore the role will change slightly from airline to airline in order to meet demand and the airlines expectations. An experienced In- flight Chef may later choose to work on the ground in a VIP lounge or make the transition to working onboard private jets or yachts.

Do you have the experience and passion for food combined with a love for travel? Why not make a career out of it. Let us know what you decide in the comments section below...