Hotel to Sky- a successful journey by Sunil Sarup:

Food & Beverage Manager Jet Airways


There are many people who are not aware that various job opportunities are offered for catering graduates. Meet Sunil Sarup – Food and Beverage (F&B) Manager, Jet Airways. He did his secondary education from Kendriya Vidyalaya – Andrews Ganj in New Delhi and hotel management from IHM Lucknow in 1995. He joined the Taj Group of Hotels as a management trainee. Subsequently, he took up a job with Jet Airways as station head catering – Chennai. Thereafter, there was no looking back and grew his career rapidly to become the F&B head at Jet Airways. His work philosophy is to strive that extra mile to bring to the table culinary experiences that are memorable for guests who travel with Jet Airways and experience a culinary journey. Senior journalist Sitaram Mewati highlights his achievements.

Can you specify difference between F&B Manager of hotel and airline?
These are two diverse jobs that have their own challenges- However it would be interesting to note that a hotel F&B manager is responsible only for catering activities relating to one hotel. An airline F & B manager is responsible for the entire catering activity on all international and domestic flights of an airline, which is far more challenging. Furthermore the activities in a hotel are localized and guest facing, while airline catering entails servicing of food and beverages in flight, with cabin crew serving guests. Hotel F & B manager the guest profile is known as it is positioned in a certain segment and for an airline guest profile is vast and fragmented hence making the job more challenging.

Is there a difference between hotel food and airline food?
Yes, there is a vast difference between two. In terms of food, a hotel manager along with executive chef has the luxury of live kitchen support with an array of equipments churning out various textures. Whereas in an airline set up logistics is a tremendous challenge not to forget that the only equipment available is the oven thus restricting the availability of crisp textures of frying. And yet it is challenges such as these that make the airline catering manager’s job so enticing. To work out winning combinations between classical and creative food and beverage offerings and to see thousands fly home and away satisfied every time of day and night sure is a delight and profession worth falling in love with.

What is a job profile of Airline Catering Manager?
MyJob profile is to ensure providing timely and tasteful menus options to our guests, and at the same time ensure that the offerings are safe and health promoting in nature, in compliance with international guidelines that are established health and safety regulations in airline catering. My prime endeavor is to plan and execute innovative and delectable food and beverage menus, analyzing various routes to provide suitable and nutritious offerings –including special dietary meals, religious and socio-cultural needs of client base at large. To be able to achieve this, one has to work closely with caterers to obtain best value for money and guest satisfaction, by menu and pricing finalization. My role gives me the unique opportunity to interact with some of the leading Chefs and finest restaurants from across the globe.

What are the other aspects of airline F&B Manager?
An airline catering manager has to work in tandem with concepts and marketing team to develop, test and implement new concepts, execute various food and beverage promotional activities, to introduce variety, create an element to exceed guest expectations. The menus planned are periodic in nature; hence inventory management for bonded items too is an important responsibility of the catering manager. Furthermore, the catering matrix breaks down into myriad activities – dining schedules, uplift charts, standard portions, plating guidelines, portion control, correct equipment utilization and ensuring consistency across all regions and caterers, to name a few.

What is ongoing nature of your job?
Ongoing nature of this job profile mandates building relationships with partners and vendors and timely menu presentations at regular intervals. These happen at caterers’ locations where menu requirements are detailed out to ensure that caterers understand and agree on food product requirements, such as quality, specification, presentation, loading scales/ratios, etc.

Is it easy to conduct quality checks?
It is critical to conduct quality checks and audits at pre flight and post flight stages on the food product, quality and quantity compliance with reference to agreed food product specifications, menu card contents, analyze and minimize waste, and initiate corrective action, where required. In the same vein I work closely on product research & development and keep abreast of international food and beverage trends and to ensure crew are trained immaculately to deliver crisp food service. Changes are incorporated from time to time across all sectors.

Does it require you to travel abroad to ascertain quality control?
The quality control has to be maintained and checks and balance is integral part of it. So, periodic travel across the network is carried out to conduct checks and audits on product procurement from various caterers.

How many meals per day are airlifted by jet airways?
Jet Airways airlifts 70,000 meals on daily basis from all stations. Jet is India’s premier international airline operating flights to 68 destinations, including 48 in India and 20 across the world.

What types of special meals are prepared for passengers?
In accordance with IATA (International Air Transport Association) guidelines, there are a host of special dietary meals that are prepared based on medical or religious preferences and requirements. Almost 25 such different special dietary meals are offered on board Jet Airways’ flights. These can be ordered by the guest either on our website or through their travel agents. Some of the meals as uplifted are –dietary meals includes low calorie meal, diabetic meal, low fat meal and non lactose meal. Religious meals are jain meal and kosher meal. In other meals category are baby meals and child meal.

Do Jet Airways conduct any on-board food festival?
Yes, Jet airways periodically conduct various food festivals. On board food festivals and culinary promotional activities are planned from time to time and is a specialty at Jet Airways. We pride ourselves in celebrating the cultural and religious diversity of India and the world at large. We recently celebrated Chinese New Year for which a celebrity Chinese Chef created a menu for us which was uplifted on our flights from Singapore to India.

How important is food safety?
Food safety is and has always been our prime focus. In this regard, no effort is spared to ensure completeness in catering at Jet Airways. This means the offering from the airline is of top quality in pleasing the palette, nutritious and health promoting. We pride at working closely with all our catering partners to ensure food safety and to be in complete compliance to all norms. Our catering specifications and menu choices are in agreement with our guest requirements and HACCP guidelines- all directed at ensuring comprehensive health and safety.

Do the food handlers handle process and package food in compliance with government food standards.
Best practices in food safety is paramount to us and we ensure that all our caterers comply with and adhere to laws of land and also other food safety and handling standards / accreditations like HACCP, ISO.

What are your strong points?
My strong points are taking all four business cornerstones in stride namely – financial, customer perspective, strengthening internal business processes and learning and development. My styles of management are to be hands on in the day to day running of the catering part of the business, participative, open to creativity and yet disciplined

Who are your favorite business leaders?
The list of favorite business is endless but among them all my favorite business leaders / Icons are Naresh Goyal and Ratan Tata.

How many daily flights are operated by jet airways domestic and international in totality?
The airline operates nearly 700 flights a day carrying almost 70,000 guests per day to their destinations.The Jet Airways Group currently operates a fleet of 115 aircraft, comprising Boeing 777-300 ERs, Airbus A330-200/300, Next Generation Boeing 737s and ATR 72-500/600s.