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Food at 35,000 ft: A fine dining experience above the clouds


Most of us do not quite fancy airline food when traveling in domestic economy airlines. First, there are not too many options; secondly the food is mostly priced on the higher side which is only fair because you are being served at 35,000 ft!

But when you are traveling in business class or first class with some of the world’s most premier airlines, and paying a bomb for it, it is expected that you are provided a unique dining experience. We take a look at how airlines provide the best culinary experience to their most valued fliers.

Prepared to order: All said and done, it is not very easy to prepare meals up in the sky so you are served is heated pre-cooked meals. However, in business class and first class flights, the endeavour is to give you as many choices as possible. Cathay Pacific is one of the first airlines to have introduced rice cookers, toasters and skillets on board their aircraft, enabling the flight attendants to prepare freshly steamed rice to accompany your meal. For breakfast, you can have hot, toasted bread, and perfectly cooked eggs to order – just as your choice. Most airlines give an option to their first class passengers to pre-order the main course from the a la carte menu 24 hours before they board the flight. For example, when traveling with Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia’s national airline, you can pre-book a plate of grilled shrimps seasoned with fresh herbs and served with special Indonesian yellow pickles and freshly sliced pineapples, and in the Emirates flight from Brisbane to Singapore you can pre-order Asian-accented braised beef rib and fresh, stir-fried lobster in black bean sauce.



They do it with experts: How do airlines ensure you are served the best? It is simple. They leave it to the experts. Who decides what you eat and prepare the menu? Top airlines work with a panel of award winning celebrity chefs who decide what you eat and also what is there on the menu. Singapore airlines international culinary panel has 8 world- renowned chefs who bring in their expertise to design the menu and among them is celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor. First class flights also have in-flights chefs, who are at a passenger’s service just like a chef at a restaurant and who can cook a meal to suit an individual’s dining experience. When traveling first class by Etihad Airways, you can order anything from the a la carte menu, a steak cooked as per your choice from the grill menu or something special using fresh ingredients from the pantry. The menu is changed on a regular basis so that frequent fliers always find something new to choose from.fd_3

Exotic wines to wash it down: Now, what is a fine-dining experience without a selection of the best wines? So you have choice of the world’s best wines handpicked from the world’s best vineyards to accompany your meal. Cathay Pacific offers a wide range of wines on their first class flights, the Yealands Estate Land Made Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015 which offers generous aromatic fruit flavours of passion fruit and guava to go with seafood, chicken, salad or pasta dishes, the Akarua Pinot Noir Bannockburn Central Otago 2013 with aromas of black cherries and black raspberries and with hints of spices to go with meat dishes like pork, veal and lamb, and the Pietraregia Riserv Morelino di Scansano Riserva DOCG 2011, the elegant Italian wine that goes well with stews and medium cheeses.fd_5

Special needs, special meals: You might be traveling with your baby or kids, you may be on a diet, you might want a vegan meal, or you might prefer a low-lactose or a diabetic meal. Fret not; the airline is prepared to give you what you want. So you can order meals that suit your baby according to his or her age, a meal for kids will not have anything that cause chocking, a low-lactose meal will exclude dairy products, a diabetic meal will have ingredients that are high in fiber and low in calories, a low calorie meal will have lean fats, low fat dairy products, high fiber and so on. You can also gluten-free meals, fruit platters and raw vegetables meals. Flights also have food that suit a particular individual according to his religion – for vegetarian and non-vegetarian Hindus, Muslims and Jews. fd_6

Tradition and modernity: The world’s best airlines make it a point to give a wide range of options to their premium passengers when it comes to food and have a varied a la carte menu to choose from. What some of these airlines also do is to serve food according to the local traditions of the country it is based out of to give it a unique twist. So on British Airways first class flights you are served the classic English breakfasts with a choice of juices, smoothies, yoghurts, cereals and pastries and traditional afternoon tea accompanied with tea warm scones, jam and clotted cream. On Cathay Pacific flights, expect to find signature regional noodle soups that are the perfect taste of Asia, while a rich selection of hors d’oeuvres (appetizer) served from a cart is followed by a soup service, a Turkish tradition on Turkish Airlines. You can also savour Turkish coffee along with other beverages.

Travel and food go hand in hand and airlines ensure that their most premium passengers have an experience that they can cherish and come back for again and again.

( Information sourced from Airline websites)

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