The food purchasing and preparation is done solely by each flight's attendants, partly for security reasons.
"The crew are the only ones that are involved in any part of the food we serve, from start to finish," Farmer said. "No one else handles the food."
Nonperishable leftovers are saved for the next trip. The Associated Press was shown a closet shelf earmarked for the joint chiefs' chairman that held some Guinness beer and Kellogg's Nutri-Grain cereal bars. A shelf reserved for the secretary of state was stacked with cases of Deer Park water and snacks.
The Air Force is choosy about flight attendants. They must have exemplary service records and be eligible for presidential security clearance. Lai said there are openings every year for the 164 flight attendant positions. The applicants must submit three references and pass muster with a hiring board that places a high value on personality and professionalism.
Recent graduate Tech. Sgt. Erica Fowler, 30, of Phoenixville, Pa., said she applied for a flight-attendant opening after 11 years in the Air Force, most recently as dining hall manager.
"It's the best job in the Air Force," she said.
Tech. Sgt. Baker, 30, of Lakewood, Colo., has served on Air Force One and now leads the vice president's flight-attendant crew. He said he's been to 65 countries in his 4 1/2 years as a flight attendant.
"We work as a team, we work as a crew, we represent the Air Force and, of course, we represent the nation as well," Baker said.
Corporate School of Etiquette President Donna Casacchia, whose company also trains attendants for private jets, said those with Air Force experience are in high demand among Fortune 500 companies.
"Their experience, their worldwide knowledge of cultural differences and their knowledge of food is superb," she said.
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