Airline food goes gourmet

Daniel Boulud's Salmon with Fennel, Chickpea and Sumac on Air France. Photo / airfrance.com
Daniel Boulud's Salmon with Fennel, Chickpea and Sumac on Air France. Photo / airfrance.com

Plane food traditionally gets a bad rap, but recent collaborations between airlines and top chefs look set to change that.

Air France this week announced a yearlong partnership with Daniel Boulud. The Michelin-starred chef has created a number of new dishes for the airline's La Premiere (First Class) and Business Class cabins on long-haul flights out of 11 American cities.

The dishes have French roots but are globally inspired, with ingredients that go far beyond the tradional "beef or chicken" options. Selections include Atlantic lobster with curried coconut sauce; peppered beef tenderloin with cranberry, squash and spinach custard; and salmon with fennel, chickpea and sumac.

Those travelling economy don't miss out either - they can choose items from a paid a la carte menu, designed by French Top Chef winner Jean Imbert.

Chefs Joel Robuchon, Guy Martin, Michel Roth, Thibaut Ruggeri, Regis Marcon, Anne-Sophie Pic and Francois Adamski previously represented Air France as "French gastronomy ambassadors".

They're not the only airline to take sky-high cuisine seriously. US-based Delta Air Lines has paired up with esteemed New York City eatery Union Square café to create high-quality Italian-inspired dishes, directed by executive chef Carmen Quagliata.

Singapore Airlines can also boast about having a Michelin-starred chef on hand, with Italian TV chef Carlo Cracco, French chef and restaurateur Georges Blanc and Alfred Portale of New York's Gothan Bar and Grill creating cuisine for their cabins.

Cathay Pacific has worked with the Michelin-starred chefs of the prestigious Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group to create a unique in-flight menu. Dishes include terrine of foie gras with winter truffle, and home-smoked salmon with crab meat and caviar.

And on Air New Zealand, consultant chef Peter Gordon designs the Business Class menu, while a number of prestigious wine experts select the best wines for the in-flight environment.

It's enough to get anyone excited about peeling back the foil.

- nzherald.co.nz

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