“Food Inspectors!” I shouted jokingly as Terry Drinkard and I opened the door to Tastefully Yours’ catering facility at Atlanta’s Dekalb-Peachtree Airport. CEO, Paula Kraft, recognized our voices. It wouldn’t have made any difference anyhow – inspectors or no inspectors – the facility would surpass any standards in the industry.
“Come hungry”, Paula had written when she invited us over. So, as pseudo food inspectors, we were looking for some samples of her culinary creations. We were warned beforehand: “If you visit Paula, forget about your diet, there’s no chance of escape!” It sounded like Paula didn’t take prisoners. Sure enough, she was already waiting for us with some goodies. “Today is a quiet day,” she explained, “and that’s when I try to create new things. I like to come up with new snacks and meals for our clients. Now try this, I just created it. It’s made out of . . . .“ and she ran through all the ingredients.
New, enticing snacks kept coming. “I could never be your partner,” I said with a grin, “You’d spoil me to death with your creations, they’re irresistible!” No wonder Paula’s clients often ‘front-load’ the TY catering – they want to have more on the return trip!
Changes in galley design and standards in the industry – Inspiration for new servings
As we toured the Unit we were impressed not just by Paula’s explanation of the various food handling and preparation procedures, but by the colorful, cheerful and inspiring atmosphere of the building. “Amanda did all the decoration.” Paula’s daughter Amanda is involved full time in the business and her sister Jacqulyn (who has her own family to look after) is always on standby when needed. “It’s a family run business with an excellent reliable staff in support.” Also remarkable is the Cookbook Library; a separate room with several hundred cookbooks. “I collect cookbooks from all over the world and by going through them I find inspiration for new servings of food,” Paula explained.
Terry Drinkard examines Paula Kraft’s newest creation as she explains how it was made.
Perplexing aircraft designers and IS-BAO inspectors
Paula, Terry and I drove to the Kraft residence in one of the suburbs of Atlanta. We made ourselves comfortable on the screened porch overlooking a small pond where a mother goose and her two offspring were taking a bath. “Are you guys hungry?” asked Paula. (I think that she is pre-programmed to ask that question!). Paula is not just a caterer; she is like a mother who’s always worried that her children, grandchildren or her guests may be starving. She has a passion to feed the world!
Paula and Terry (who is an innovative thinking aircraft designer “par excellence” in my eyes) get into a discussion on how galleys could and should be improved; current concerns and potential future benefits. Just listening to the exchange of experiences between the ‘cook’ and the ‘engineer’, its amazing where the conversation leads. Terry probably couldn’t boil an egg and I’m sure Paula couldn’t make a propeller work, but the expertise of these two people from different backgrounds comes together to form the basis of innovative thinking and ideas for improvement. The topics, suggestions and conclusions of the two are so serious that any aircraft manufacturer listening-in could walk away with a blueprint for aircraft design and improvement. Their comments on standards around aircraft food would make IS-BAO inspectors feel like incompetent auditors. When Paula brings in her expertise it’s not just from the culinary perspective, she is THE authority on food safety in the business aviation industry.
No surprise therefore, that the three of us took a short visit to an industrial kitchen equipment supplier nearby to explain, with some example apparatus on hand, how thing could be improved, what should be integrated and even how computer programming might contribute.
Back on the porch and few of Paula’s snacks later, we are all deeply engaged in discussing how the knowledge and innovations should be disseminated or could even be ‘brought to market’. We jointly agreed that what we had discussed was more about necessities in the interest of the industry as a whole rather than just kicking around some ideas for the few. We conferred on design, training, auditing. No small stuff. If we were to realize the results of our brain storming, it would become a movement that should get the warning label, ‘look out here we come!’
A fabulous lady
After spending time with Paula Kraft and seeing what she does and how she thinks, and being asked how to summarize her in one word, I would have to say “fabulous”. If I had to list all her features and characteristics: food health authority, five star chef, pioneer, entrepreneur, innovator, mother, grandmother; there’s probably more. The thing is, whatever Paula does, she does it with passion. She has a down-to-earth approach and a tremendous sense of humor. I don’t want to say that she puts herself last, but she definitely puts everything else first, be it clients, passengers, guests, industry, business or of course her family. That is the way she likes its and that is how she earns respect, recognition and affection.
Cdr. Slabbaert welcomes your comments, questions or feedback