Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia
Our colleagues in Pennsylvania share a bit about what it’s like to work for LSG Sky Chefs and give recommendations for a great Philly Cheesesteak
Did you know that the famous Geno’s Steaks restaurant in Philadelphia serves some 4,500 Philly cheesesteak sandwiches per day? Now, imagine for a moment, preparing 25,000 meals then driving them to a nearby location, only to turn around and wash each one of those thousands of dishes, then repeating this sequence for the next 30+ years. That is exactly the work that the LSG Sky Chefs Philadelphia (PHL) kitchen does day-in and day-out, since 1984. This kitchen caters approximately 170 airline flights per day; the consistent success of this high-volume kitchen is a testament to the dedication and passion of the LSG Sky Chefs PHL team.
The PHL catering kitchen employs nearly 400 employees, two of whom are Alfred Weeks, On-the-job Driver Trainer, and Vanessa Hargreaves, Cold Food Team Lead. Both are long-time residents of Philadelphia, both are shining examples of the dedicated work that goes on each day in our local kitchens, and they share one thing in common: passion for workforce excellence. Allow us to introduce you!
Alfred Weeks, On-the-job Driver Trainer
How long have you worked here at LSG Sky Chefs?
Eleven years. I arrived in the U.S. during 2004 as part of a refugee program (I am originally from Liberia). I started here as a porter, then advanced to the warehouse, then the store room, then driver, to my current position as an on-the-job driver trainer.
What do you do, exactly?
I train our truck drivers. Our drivers are required to go through a rigorous training program that’s divided primarily into four steps:
Observation, practice, driving, and driver’s test
What’s it like working here?
As a driver, the number one rule for us is that there is no compromise on safety. The difference of one inch can literally make the difference between a successfully-catered flight and a collision into an aircraft by one of our trucks. Because of this, there’s a lot of accountability required among our internal teammates to ensure we don’t become complacent.
To you, who makes the best Philly cheesesteak sandwich in Philly?
Actually, my favorite American-based meal in Philadelphia is served right here in our PHL employee cafeteria: the Philly cheesesteak sandwiches here are delicious. I come from a coastal country, where fish and rice were the main staples, so enjoying a perfectly breaded sandwich – not too thick, not too thin, with just enough crunch – makes for the perfect hearty-lunch treat.
Vanessa Hargreaves, Cold Food Team Lead
What inspired you to join the LSG Sky Chefs team?
I’ve always been passionate about food. I started cooking at a very young age; some of my fondest memories come from spending time in the kitchen as a child with my mother and grandmother, three generations cooking together in one kitchen. Once I started working, I always found myself working around food; I’ve worked in stadiums to feed sports fans, schools to feed kids, and now LSG Sky Chefs to feed hungry airline passengers!
You’re a team lead. What does that mean, exactly?
It means that I’m responsible for ensuring each tray that’s contained within each airline trolley meets our standard measurements. I think it’s actually the ideal position for me; I’m extremely meticulous. This may sound odd, but I find the process of organization to be cathartic. Every tray must be spotlessly clean, every cookie, cracker, cheese I place on a tray must match the required amount for that flight and be of a certain quality (no cracks, etc). I even check every individual item on trays to ensure each one is facing the front to make it easier for flight attendants to select the correct item.
You certainly know your way around the kitchen. What’s your favorite meal to cook at home?
Everyone loves my meatloaf and macaroni and cheese. I make both from scratch. For the mac and cheese, I make sure to shred the cheese myself and use fresh bread crumbs to get that slightly crunchy top. A little “TLC” (tender, loving care) to any meal goes a long way.
What makes a great Philly cheesesteak sandwich?
A Philadelphia-authentic cheesesteak sandwich starts with a fresh roll. It has to be baked the same day. Secondly, the meat has to be quality sirloin meat. I like mine topped with fried onions and sweet peppers. I’ve lived here in Philadelphia since I was two, and my ultimate favorite spot for Philly cheesesteak sandwiches has always remained the same: Max’s Steaks at Broad and Erie in North Philly!
So, what do you think? Have you ever tried a Philly Cheesesteak before? Who makes your favorite?