Susanna Lim: Executive Design Chef

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“You should always strive for value and growth in your personal and professional goals as a chef, to further hone and develop your skills while embracing innovations and new practices. It means always having an insatiable desire to do better and learn more. It means never being satisfied with your level of expertise.”

Susanna has had an unusual career. Instead of working in the catering business from the beginning, she graduated from the University of California in San Diego and started working as a teacher, but she’s always been passionate about good food. She joined LSG Sky Chefs in 2010 and works now as an executive design chef.

Why did you become a professional chef?
I was always passionate about food from a very young age. Although I always wanted to pursue a catering career, I graduated from university and started teaching, which became one of my passions as well. While teaching, I started a private catering business. During those five years, I recognized that doing teaching and catering was not possible at the same time, so I gave up my teaching job, moved to NYC and enrolled in a culinary school. Now when I look back, I see how I’ve been blessed by all the opportunities and experiences I’ve had. It was the best decision I ever made in my life and I’m glad I had the courage to listen to my own convictions.

As one of the few women chefs at LSG Sky Chefs, how to you explain the domination of male chefs?
It’s a tough industry in the beginning – you have to get your hands dirty, deal with cursing and shouting, long excruciating hours of repetitive tasks, poor pay and chauvinism. During this stage, it’s hard to enjoy the job – you need to keep your goals in mind. Although it is a tough job for both men and women, I do wish more women were joining the profession. People often have the wrong image in mind and view catering as glamorous, unique, and creative – it is, but later! The reality is that it’s not creative until you’ve worked your way up the ranks and proven your worth as a chef. Working at LSG Sky Chefs has been a rewarding experience as you’re in the company of professional, talented chefs who’ve earned their stripes – you can learn from their creativity and grow and transform yourself into the chef you always wanted to be.

How do you see the international flight cuisine changing?
I’ve experienced our international customers as being very open-minded towards the global influences and trends in the cuisine we offer. The use of specialty ingredients and flavor-profiles from all around the world are now very much integrated into the way we work and in our western-style menus. International airlines usually give their passengers a choice of two offerings – one is a menu from a specific country or region and the other’s a western-style menu. I feel that while international customers enjoy their own traditional cuisine, they’re very open-minded towards new food trends. Our customers like to try out different flavor profiles, consequently the food choices are showing growing diversity and becoming a little more exotic.