How Emirates Makes 225,000 In-Flight Meals A Day

How Emirates Makes 225,000 In-Flight Meals A Day

August 30, 2019 100 By William Morgan


Narrator: Here in Dubai,
Emirates Flight Catering
makes 110 million in-flight meals a year.
As the world’s largest catering
facility, they run 24/7,
cooking up every snack,
dessert, and main dish
eaten by the airline’s 55
million passengers a year.
And these travelers eat a lot.
In 2018, Emirates passengers
downed 72 million bread rolls,
over 134,000 pounds of
strawberries, 414 pounds of salmon,
and more than three
million pounds of potatoes.
So, how does the world’s
largest flying restaurant
feed hungry passengers aboard
nearly 200,000 flights a year?
Well, before any cooking can even start,
everything has to be unloaded
off incoming flights.
Plates, trays, trolleys, you name it.
They’re all dropped in the ground floor
of the facility to cleaned.
Dishes are separated into categories
and sent through industrial-sized
warewashing machines.
On average, the facility handles
about 3 million pieces of tableware a day.
Those trolleys that bring
you drinks during your flight
are also cleaned here.
Then they’re loaded up onto the building’s
mile-and-a-half-long monorail
to be taken upstairs.
This system is how massive
amounts of inventory
are moved safely through the building.
The monorail has pick
up and drop off points
at multiple locations on every floor.
Upstairs is where the cooking takes off.
First, in the cold kitchen,
all of the sandwiches
and appetizers are prepped and plated.
Because the different
cabins have specific menus,
appetizers and sandwiches
for first and business class
are prepared on one side of the kitchen,
while those for economy
are prepared on the other.
Sandwiches are sliced and
stacked and then feed through
the flow wrapping machine
to keep the bread fresh
until it’s unwrapped aboard the plane.
Now, on to the main kitchen,
where they’re whipping up the hot food.
The kitchen’s broken down
by four food regions:
Asian, Sub-Continent,
European, and Middle Eastern.
Emirates 1,800 chefs from around the world
develop 1,300 different menus a month.
They cover the culinary gambit
of every destination Emirates flies to.
Whenever you’re aboard an Emirates flight,
the meal you’re served will be inspired
by the region of your arrival destination.
And with over 150 destinations
in 85 different countries,
well that’s a lot of
region-specific meals.
So, if your headed to France, you’ll
get a croissant in the morning.
Flying to India?
You’ll most likely get a crisp kachori.
Stopping off in Japan?
How about some soba or a bento box?
Emirates says they want
to welcome travelers home
or give new visitors a first
taste of the region’s food.
So what’s Emirates specialty
dish welcoming passengers
to their hub of Dubai?
The Emirate arabic mezze
selection with sticky pudding.
The hot kitchen is where
region specific dishes
like the mezze take form.
Chefs mix big vats of vegetables,
grill lines of lamb chops, and top rows
of dishes with garnishes.
Each plate has to taste
and look exactly the same.
It’s at this point that
all of the hot dishes
head to the blast chiller.
They have to be cooled down
to the perfect food-safe temperature.
The last kitchen is for
all us sugar lovers:
the dessert room.
Cakes, pastries, and cookies are
all individually mixed,
piped, dipped, and baked here.
The facility specializes in
arabic sweets, made in house.
The coolest part?
The hydro processor, a
high-powered water laser
that cuts perfectly
precise slices of cake.
Finally, the assembly
room. This is where all
of the pieces converge onto one tray.
It’s also where every meal
gets a day code printed on it.
It’s in UV ink, so as a passenger
you won’t actually see
it, but it helps Emirates
track the life of each dish.
That way, they’re sure they’re not serving
flyers any spoiled food.
This is also where salads
and fruit plates are packaged up.
Silverware and dishes are prepared
and all incoming meals
are assembled onto trays,
exactly as we’d see them as
passengers aboard the flight.
Those trays are loaded
back into the trolleys.
That take another spin on that
monorail to the ground floor.
Back downstairs, the trolleys are packed
into awaiting high-loader trucks.
Those trucks will be sent
out to aircrafts two hours
before departure times to unload meals
for hungry passengers waiting aboard.