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In 2012, 25-year-old Michael Worth was offered a job as a chef on a private Gulfstream G550, owned by a well-known hedge fund manager. Though Worth is not permitted to divulge the name of his boss, he gives us a peek into how his life has taken flight.
Most jet owners have their food delivered from a catering company or restaurant. The flight attendant reheats it, plates it, and serves it.
We’re doing something really different. I have an immersion circulator on board. It’s so clean, easy, and precise. The food is cooked perfectly. It allows me to execute meals that I couldn’t with an oven or a microwave.
I can heat up an entire meal in the circulator. I can have a sauce in a vacuum-sealed bag, with fish in a separate bag. If I need to cook, say, carrots with my fish, I set the circulator at 185 degrees and drop my vacuum-sealed bag of prepped carrots in there. When those are tender, I’m going to drop it down to 123 degrees for the halibut. The carrots will stay perfect and not overcook, and when the halibut is ready I pull everything out, snip it out of the bag and into my serviceware so I can start plating.
A six to eight hour flight might be two meals. A bangin’ lunch, clean everything up, wash all the dishes, make sure everything is cool in the cabin. Chill out with the crew up front, do some homework, listen to music, then start dinner.
A typical meal is three courses. He wants to be surprised. Usually the first words out of his mouth when he gets on the jet are “What’s for lunch—or dinner—today Mike? I’m starving.”
FAA rules are that a cabin crew can’t be in the air longer than 12 hours. So if my boss scheduled a two-week trip to Indonesia, we’ll stop in Hawaii to refuel and switch crews. I’m dropped off in Hawaii for 10 days, the new crew goes on to Indonesia until they come back. My expenses are paid while I’m grounded.
I’ve been to the Canary Islands, Madrid, Belgium, Calgary, and Antigua multiple times. I don’t know where I’m headed next.
I’ve worked hard and I’m ambitious as hell. I’ll be able to pay off my student loans long before I ever thought I would, and take care of my mom.
After the Culinary Institute, Worth worked at The Palace at The Cincinnatian Hotel. He got noticed when he started posting pictures of his Palace dishes on Facebook.
On board glassware is Baccarat, the plates are Bernardaud, the flatware is heavy silver.
Annual operating expenses for a Gulfstream run $4–$5 million.
The Cast and Crew
There are only about 500 contract employees working on private jets in the country. Only a couple dozen do what Worth does, preparing meals from scratch.
Originally published in May 2013.
Photograph by Annette Navarro