AN INTERVIEW WITH DARRION LANDERS, EXECUTIVE CHEF AT NETJETS EUROPE
THE FACE BEHIND THE FOOD
Behind the scenes at NetJets, there is a supremely talented team of staff who work tirelessly to keep everything running smoothly, efficiently, and to the high standard NetJets sets for itself. From our capable and qualified on-board team, to those working on the ground, every NetJets employee is crucial to the business, playing an essential role in managing and operating our extensive fleet.
To give our Owners an insight into our operation, we’re introducing a new series of employee interviews where we’ll be speaking to key members of the team to find out what they do, and how they do it.
Starting us off is Darrion Landers, Executive Chef of NetJets Europe, and the man behind the exquisite meals served on-board our flights. An integral part of the NetJets crew, here’s what he had say…
I am the NetJets Catering and Standards Executive Chef. My role is split in two parts, firstly I am responsible for establishing a food safety management system on behalf of NJE throughout our vendor partner program. This involves lots of travel and an enormous amount of research and understanding into local culture and food legislation prior to each assessment.
The second part of my role is about the catering served to our Owners on board the aircraft. I work alongside our catering partners in improving both the quality of the food and establishing consistency by implementing a method of approach for the food.
How did you start your journey with NetJets and where did you start your career?
I am a qualified Chef, holding a degree in Culinary Arts and Principles along with qualifications in Food Safety Management and HACCP certified through CIEH (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health). I have been formally trained in all aspects of the kitchen from butchery, larder, mains and eventually pastry in some of the best hotels. I have worked in 5-star hotels in South Africa, London and beyond, Michelin starred restaurants in the Channel Islands, some of the best London event catering companies, high end restaurants with rosettes and finally Absolute Taste Inflight.
What inspires you most about your job and working for Netjets?
I joined NetJets after nearly 10 years in the food industry. During this time, I have been fortunate enough to see the business grow into the largest private jet provider in the world. I decided to join NetJets with this focus in mind, I could work within the largest aviation company and be a pioneer within the industry. I love the ability to work alongside some of the best people and caterers within private aviation industry.
I am a chef and the reason I chose this profession was the ability to make someone smile/influence their day while providing their body with sustenance. Imagine the endless possibilities of doing this for some the world’s leading businessman, companies and sports stars and guiding them into eating food that is perfectly suited for them on-board our aircraft from every location.
Attention to detail is my greatest asset as a chef and equally as the brand ambassador for the catering served to our Owners. I understand the end-user expectations and challenges both from our crew perspective and our Owners and I am committed to finding solutions.
What food trends do you see emerging over the next year and how does NetJets accommodate these?
My focus is on local influences and specialities. Trying to encapsulate all those flavours into the dish (example combining shallots, parsley, capers and cornichons with lemon and olive oil for the smoked salmon platter). Combining flavours that work well and are equally balanced by reducing the sugar and fat intake. Using high impact flavours, such as acidulating tomatoes, which already have natural umami, with dressing gives maximum impact and ‘dresses’ the food as you consume it. Using contrasting textures to enhance the feel of freshness. like a perfectly cut piece of endive in a salad with croutons and raspberry vinaigrette. Using spice instead of increasing the salt content and micro herbs and roots which are smaller but packed with tons of flavour.
I understand the end-user expectations and challenges both from our crew perspective and our Owners and I am committed to finding solutions.Darrion Landers, Catering & Standards Executive
I try to design and present food how I like to eat, looking particularly at what needs to be eaten together or separately. Often flavour is sacrificed for presentation. I leave out what doesn't add to the flavour and texture of a dish and take away unnecessary distractions. Provenance, understanding the journey the food has undergone, allows the food to be the star. Food should be simple, honest and most importantly approachable.
What’s your favourite dish on board?
The Chicken Caesar salad. It is the perfect combination of crisp textures, umami, and freshness. When it is perfectly executed its magical and always leaves me feeling both refreshed and perfectly satisfied. Sushi and sashimi are a close second as they are the perfect healthy light bites and I can regulate the spice (wasabi), salt (soya) and high impact flavourings (pickled ginger) to my taste. They are perfectly matched for the Ruinart we serve on board as well which helps. We can call this detox and retox!