A New Generation of Private Jet Catering: An Interview with Vintage Caterers

How Eli Bensoussan of Vintage Caterers is Changing the Reputation of Inflight Catering Companies  

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT being compensated for this blog post or benefit directly by posting this, but simply believe (wholeheartedly) in sharing resources and supporting individuals with a vision and mission to create a higher level of excellence and professionalism in the flight attendant world. Thanks so much, Vintage, for being part of this interview. —Kara

Historically, flight attendants know a few things about private jet catering companies:

  1. The food is not good.
  2. It’s overpriced.
  3. It’s packaged like you have a moving truck refrigeration system, which ALWAYS leaves the flight attendant scrambling to figure out, “Where the F do I put this?!’ (This scenario generally happens 5 mins before passengers arrive).

BUT THIS IS ALL CHANGING! Vintage Caterers— with kitchens in Van Nuys, California, Teterboro, NJ, and soon Miami, Florida— intends to transform the reputation of the private jet caterer. Recently, Eli Bensoussan, CEO of Vintage Caterers, sat down with Flight Attendant Life to share how Vintage Caterers is working diligently to raise the standards of inflight dining through innovative business practices, flight attendant culinary classes, and attention to excellence and a focus on the corporate flight attendant community unseen in the past.

@FlywithEmma at one of Vintage Catering’s classes in Van Nuys, California.

How has Vintage set themselves apart as a caterer corporate flight attendants and clients can trust?

1) Amazing, restaurant grade, European inspired food: The Issue: Catering has a disgusting reputation and rightfully so. Inexperienced individuals that make great sandwiches and brownies quickly jumped into the inflight catering ring and decided they might as well take a crack at it because the dollar signs were blaring. While I love and support small business and their ever hard working owners, (America is built on these phenomenal people and families) some industries truly need to be left to professionals. Food is an art and a science. Nobody would try and sell a painting if they can hardly color with crayons, so why is making food for the most sophisticated individuals on their jets ok if you can’t cook professionally? It’s come to the point that “catering” became a cheap word.

The idea with Vintage and our mission is to “rebrand catering.” We can’t fix the reputation of catering while “caterers” continue to serve a sub par experience. However, we can create something new. My chefs at Vintage Caterers are all from fine dining restaurants. They’re young and always chasing the trends of food; creating their own concepts that are unique and exclusive. Every great restaurant has a great chef inventing food dishes and concepts. So do we. The difference is that we have 40 chefs doing this as a team. Our menus are created by our group of chefs— all yearning to make something so different and amazing that the passengers will comment that, “This isn’t really catering is it?” Break the rules. After all, the rules were set by people who make great sandwiches, right? We are a group of people testing, inventing, and perfecting food concepts until we have something to ‘wow’ you with. So, the concept is the experience; exciting dishes that make you say, “Yes! That was great food.”

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How is Vintage connecting with the very individuals who order and craft the private jet experience (aka corporate flight attendants) and why is this important to you?

To us, it comes down to being transparent with our execution. Vintage determines to show the inside of our works to the flight attendant world on Instagram. Businesses seem so scared to show the world what really happens in their inner circles, but wouldn’t everyone love seeing that? How many people know what a chef goes through just to prep one dish? What about the crazy, exciting brainstorming and experiment process to make a new dessert? Who wouldn’t want to see that magic? I want this to be shown to everyone and Instagram and blogs are the best way to execute. Q&As, short videos, live posts, direct narratives on each post spoken directly from me instead of hiding behind words like “we” or “Vintage Caterers.” Let’s get out there!

Along with Vintage, many flight attendants are becoming part of the movement to create culinary excellence in the flight attendant community including @flightess and @wanderlust_flight.

Besides connecting via social media, how is Vintage Caterers working in a very real way to raise the standards of the inflight dining experience?

Vintage Caterers has set out to “Share The Wealth.” To explain this, I first need to focus on a major issue in the corporate flight attendant world.

The Issue: Realistically, how many flight attendants had proper culinary training? I’ve seen some FAs slice a roll for a sandwich leaving 90 percent of the roll as the bottom half and a tiny sliver for the top half. And that’s just a sandwich. What is going to happen when they are asked to put together a canapé? But, guess what? It’s not their fault! Charter companies hire girls and guys to jump on a plane and tell them to figure it out as they go. That may be the industry, but it’s NOT fair. I can only imagine the anxiety and nervousness a flight attendant feels walking into a cabin, about to spend hours presenting food to a high net-worth individual— without proper training. Flight Attendants need more and better resources, that won’t cost them $$$, and are readily available on an ongoing basis.

That’s why Vintage Caterers has brought ‘culinary classes’ to the corporate flight attendant. The idea is that we take the sea of knowledge that our chefs have and TEACH!! Share the wealth! We don’t need to charge money for teaching corporate flight attendants to become better at their jobs because, a successful food presentation by the flight attendant makes them shine— which in the end makes us, “the food people,” shine. We can’t exist without each other. You need the food, and we need you to present it in a way that is inspiring. Last I checked, that is the definition of a ‘team.’

Why is ‘collaboration’ between catering companies and corporate flight attendants a focus for Vintage Caterers?

I want people to understand why we are doing this; why we care so much about connecting and developing tools and resources for the corporate flight attendant community. It’s not a tacky marketing ploy, but a real plan to ensure a successful partnership. If we can show people why we do what we do through social media or trainings, the message will no doubt catch on. When a mission is about more than one individual, it becomes stronger and more long lasting. This is about YOU, and it’s about US.

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The grand opening for Vintage Caterers’ Miami kitchen is set for June 20, 2019. For corporate flight attendants ordering through Vintage in TEB, VNY, or MIA, use the code FALIFE for a $75 gift card for YOU:)

About the Author Kara

Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.

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