Airlines and celebrities go hand in hand these days it seems, and the leveraging the celebrity brand is an important part of any airline which aspires to be a premium brand. In the first of a series of articles on the topic of airlines and celebrities, we are looking at celebrity chefs who are linked to the airlines.
It is fair to say that airline food does not enjoy a brilliant reputation, but some airlines are striving for better, particularly in their premium cabins and they have bought in some big hitters to help with the menus, with the likes of Richard Sandoval, Marcus Samuelsson, Nobu and others. BA has also explored the concept of height cuisine – food tailored for being consumed in a high altitude environment.
There is actually nothing new about airlines working with superstar chefs but more recently the idea has gained momentum. Singapore Airlines tapped Gordon Ramsay for their International Culinary Panel back in 2006, and Air France began working with Joel Robuchon in 2010.
Here are 10 airlines with celebrity chef offerings.
Innovative chef Heston Blumenthal partnered with BA on a series of Olympics-inspired menus. Items like mackerel rillettes with sourdough croutes, and were served on all flights in all cabins.
For over 15 years Neil Perry has overseen onboard dining for the Qantas fleet while running six successful restaurants in his native Sydney. Perry’s inflight menus are served in all Qantas cabins.
Richard Sandoval and Marcus Samuelsson are serving up unstoppable action on AA. Premium class offerings on international routes include halibut with sweet potato puree and corn salsa. On domestic routes Samuelsson’s New American Table program has tasty classics like fresh turkey sandwiches and a killer breakfast biscuit.
Alain Ducasse, Joel Robuchon and Guy Martin are among the stars who have created inflight menus for Air France. In February 2013, they unveiled a menu by Bocuse d’Or winner and two-Michelin star chef Michel Roth. Dishes like grilled pollack with Menton lemon confit, and pan-fried scallops in a white truffle-rich tartuffon sauce – yum!.
Doha-based Qatar Airways launched the Culinary World Menu, a global program featuring a rotating cast of menu items by bold-faced names like Nobu Matsuhisa, Tom Aikens, India’s two-Michelin-starred Vineet Bhatia and Lebanese chef and tv personality Ramzi Choueiri.
MIA’s own Iron Chef and James Beard Award–winner Michelle Bernstein creates menus for long-haul international travelers in Delta’s BusinessElit. Her five course tasting menus include items like pomegranate-glazed lamb and grilled beef tenderloin with chimichurri.
Hector Vergara handpicks the continent’s best bottles for the in-flight wine list on board LAN, the national carrier of Chile. Vergara stocks LAN flights with New World wines like Chilean Carménère and Argentinean Malbec, as well as lesser-known bottles like a 2008 Syrah from Chile’s coastal Valle de Casablanca region.
In Tokyo, Chef Seiji Yamamoto’s blend of molecular gastronomy and traditional kaiseke has earned him three Michelin stars along with fans like Ferran Adria and Wylie Dufresne. First-class passengers on Japan Airlines’ international flights can sample Chef Yamamoto’s menu, which may be Wagyu beef or a snow crab tart topped with delicate roe.
South African Airways
South African chef Reuben Riffel reportedly did not eat in a restaurant until he was 15. Now he also creates meals for South African Airways, which are served alongside over 70 stellar South African wines in Premium Business Class.
In 2007 United asked Charlie Trotter to design inflight menus for transcontinental flights out of its North America and he created first and business class meals such as mustard-braised pork medallions, and crispy short rib wontons with Thai chili sauce.