Chef Kevin Love joined airline catering specialists Alpha LSG as business and culinary development executive chef last year. He speaks to Katie Pathiaki about how he creates food for flying and how it felt to be awarded a Michelin star
What was your first job in the hospitality industry?
What is the proudest moment â¨in your career?
Telling my former team at Heston Blumenthal's the Hind's Head in Bray that we had been awarded a Michelin star - it doesn't get much better than that! We had refurbished the kitchen and the star was a culmination of a lot of hard work from a great bunch of people.
What inspired you to make the change from Michelin-starred kitchens to airline catering?
This industry offers the opportunity to be really creative in many different ways. Every brief and budget from all the airlines is different, so you are constantly challenged. The pace is very fast so it is very similar to restaurant development.
The work-life balance is much better than restaurants and I get to travel. I've just come back from Thailand, visiting our kitchens and suppliers there. We employ Asian production chefs to develop for â¨our Asian airlines and we have dedicated areas for them to cook authentic meals. Watching and learning from them is a real treat, but as with most hospitality industries at the moment, there is a shortage of chefs. We are always looking for chefs from all backgrounds and nationalities to join the team.
What are your responsibilities?
I am responsible for new business and culinary development, leading in terms of innovation. I'm also responsible for the development of new culinary processes for our kitchens, and I work with local colleges and culinary institutions to represent the airline industry.
How challenging is it?
The scale of the business is huge; however, the team at Alpha LSG have been hugely supportive and welcoming to me and my ideas.
Has joining Alpha LSG been â¨a learning curve?
Yes, this business is very complex with many departments all â¨playing a pivotal role. Learning how each department communicates with another on a global scale is fascinating.
In terms of cooking, there is a lot to learn when developing a meal for an airline: simple things such as the weight, size and shape have to be considered, but we also have to know how the food will reheat, and the allergens and nutrition all have to be mapped out. But for me, as a chef, it's all about taste - bearing in mind our ability to taste is reduced by up to 30% at altitude.
What inspires your dishes?
For me, a dish starts and finishes with the produce. I work my way through the client's brief and budget to get to a dish that fits, that will appeal to their passengers, and is able to stand out without alienating anyoneâ¦ Not an easy thing to accomplish, I can tell you!
What is the best thing about â¨your career?
I think the diversity is the best thing. I have worked at many different levels, both in the UK and abroad, and I've taken bits and pieces from everything, which hopefully will benefit Alpha LSG.