In an effort to delight the taste buds of well-heeled travellers, airlines around the world have enlisted the help of starred chefs to create menus worthy of some of the best restaurants on the ground.
The Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific recently announced a partnership with two chefs from the Mandarin Oriental hotel group. First class passengers on flights between London and Hong Kong will savor the resulting meals from September and through the end of the year.
Uwe Opocensky (Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong) and Dean Yasharian (Hyde Park London) will work together to ensure the in-flight meals live up to the expectations of demanding travelers. The menu will feature, among other items, foie gras, smoked salmon and fillet of sole with Grenobloise sauce.
Among other airlines betting on luxurious in-flight meals to win over high-end travelers is Air France. The French carrier has been at it for quite some time already, having invited multi-starred celebrity chef Joël Robuchon as well as Guy Martin, Michel Roth and Thibaut Ruggieri to create dishes for its business and first class customers.
In July, the website Atabula revealed that Anne-Sophie Pic will follow in their footsteps from the end of this year, becoming the first female chef to send her gourmet creations into the sky with the airline.
A number of chefs based in France are also in high demand with carriers abroad. Japan Airlines has partnered with Hiroki Yoshitake, the chef and co-owner of the starred restaurant Sola in Paris, to give its first and business Class travelers a taste of Japanese cuisine with a French touch. From September, Shinichi Sato, chef at the Parisian restaurant Passage 53, will step in with a new menu, which will be complemented by a dessert created by Jean-Paul Hévin.
Also among recent tie-ups are one between Brussels Airlines and three-starred chef Geert Van Hecke and another in which Emmanuel Renaut, chef at the three-starred restaurant Flocons de Sel in Megève, France, created a special menu for the 10th anniversary of Air Caraïbes last December.
Qatar Airways has put together a multi-starred brigade of chefs who trade off throughout the year, while Singapore Airlines has called upon French chef Georges Blanc, Italian Carlo Craco, New Yorker Alfred Portale and six other chefs who alternate their creations throughout the year.
At the latest Skytrax World Airline Awards, which name the top airlines in various categories according to passenger votes, Etihad Airways took the award for best first class meals. Turkish Airlines earned the equivalent distinction for business class, while Thai Airways was highlighted as the best airline for economy class meals.