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Behind The Scenes @ THAI Catering...
By Jill Varley
8 February 2013

To the fear of terrorist attack, loss of pressure, engine failure or flying into a flock of pigeons, I no longer fear poisoning as a possible mid-air mishap.  This new found trust comes after going behind the scenes at THAI In-flight Catering at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Here you learn that in-flight meals are different for each member of the flight deck crew while meals for in-flight attendants are distinct from that of the passengers.


Tainted food, whether accidental or deliberate could render the aircraft inoperable should such a disaster occur, hence the need for each person on the fight deck to have a different meal and for the attendants to be totally compos should passengers succumb to a virulent strain of E.coli or dastardly act of food contamination.


This and other confidence boosting facts emerged from my visit to this 30,000 square metre, state-of-the-art unit. To this I add the intelligence that the kitchens produce some 68,000 meals a day for 50 of its customer airlines in what can only be described as pristine conditions. Such is its size; it has the capacity to produce up to 90,000 meals a day. Meanwhile in one day, 1.2 million dishes are washed in 11 machines, (one for just Halal dishes) and 20 tons of laundry washed. Across the globe another 2000 people are employed externally to ensure their aircraft, passengers and crew are kept safe. All of this is a long way from 1960 when THAI catering was first established and 500 meals a day were prepared by 10 staff.


Today, it’s an operation that not only supplies airline food for three of its air bases but is responsible for all THAI catering, including supplying food for VIP Lounges and canteens, producing frozen bread for Japan, meal boxes for seminars and coaches and supplying their own outside catering service. To this must be added a bakery that supplies product to their 30 Puff & Pie ‘outlets and a further 14,000 meals a day they prepare for their restaurants.

It’s quite an arresting sight to walk along corridors of floor to ceiling windows and gaze down on an army of personnel dressed in hygienic white placing food items on trays, on conveyor belts. Then to pass a dedicated Halal kitchen and others for speciality foods and meals requests, a bonded liquor store, cool rooms and a warehouse of immense size filled with row upon row of food products.



In order to gain the highest customer satisfaction, THAI’s emphasis on the quality and variety of food in the four dimensions of Taste, Eye, Smell and Content was put to the test when the executive chef invited the group I was with to take part in a hands-on ‘Cooking with THAI” experience.  Happily I walked away with ‘Chef’s Hat’ certificate in recognition of my efforts after preparing, with exotic and unfamiliar Thai ingredients and no small amount of instruction, some authentic and fiery dishes including hot and sour Tom Kah Kai, a fragrant chicken in coconut milk with an unpronounceable name, a prawn Pad Thai, plus a myriad of dishes, of sweet and aromatic complexity. And to top it off, we got to eat the lot!

Words and pictures : Jill Innamorati-Varley 


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Colleen Blofield
Sound awesome!!! What a fabulous experience to actually see this in Person.Have always loved the Food on Thai Airlines, and will be having it again, when I fly with them in June. Thank-you for sharing this with us.
Douglas Mayberry
Quality of food and service provided by Thai airways always very highWe travel to Thailand 2/ maybe 4 times per year and always food very good standard.We have tried couple of different airlines over the years but always come back to Thai airlines
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