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Ann Heisenfelt, Associated Press
Master Sgt. Kevin Gallagher, left, and Master Sgt. Beth Poole, right, take part in a meal preparation course for Air Force flight attendants at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. The food choices have grown more sophisticated since 2008, when the Air Force added advanced culinary classes to the flight-attendant training regimen. During a quarterly training session last week, six attendants in olive-green flight suits butterflied chicken breasts and chopped asparagus under the eyes of Melissa Bigelow, a Los Angeles-based “chef to the stars” who has cooked for Tom Cruise and Simon Cowell.

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. — The U.S. military says more flight attendants aboard Air Force One and other government VIP planes are learning advanced culinary skills.

Students at Joint Base Andrews near Washington recently prepared chicken paillard (py-AR') with mashed potatoes and asparagus at the direction of a Los Angeles-based chef who has cooked for celebrities including Tom Cruise and Simon Cowell.

The Air Force hired The Corporate School of Etiquette to teach three such classes in the last 18 months to flight attendants in the 89th Airlift Wing at $22,000 per class.

The Air Force says the president and his top advisers need to be well-fed when traveling on official business — but they can opt for more pedestrian fare.

The flight attendants say their top priority is ensuring passenger safety.