For The Huffington Post. February 2016.
On a Wednesday afternoon, Gotham Bar and Grill is bustling with executives, vacationers and retired folks. There is a wait to get a table for lunch at this 30-year old legendary Greenwich Village restaurant. I savor every bite as I dig into my rainbow beet salad with toasted hazelnuts and creamy goat cheese, a towering yellowfin tuna tartare, and a decadent Gotham chocolate cake. Everything on the menu is fresh, artful and delicious! With Chef, Alfred Portale steering the kitchen, the restaurant has gone on to win prestigious New York Times 5-star reviews, Michelin ratings, and James Beard Awards.
Now picture yourself eating the same way 30,000 feet in air.
Yes, it is possible! Singapore Airlines has created an International Culinary Panel to create globally inspired menus that are served on international flights. Panelists include a collection of the world’s top chefs and culinary experts, including Alfred Portale from New York (chef at Gotham Bar and Grill), Carlo Cracco from Milan (judge on MasterChef Italia), Georges Blanc from Vonna, France (recipient of Gault and Millau’s highest rating to date – Chef of the Year), Sanjeev Kapoor from Mumbai (host of the longest running cooking show in Asia), Yoshihiro Murata from Kyoto (owner of restaurants with 7 Michelin star), among others.
Now, you can eat some of the same dishes celebrity chefs offer at their restaurants at your seat. The food is cooked using the same ingredients and in the same way that the chefs prepare in their home countries. Portion sizes are small and presentation is spectacular. The dishes are also tested in simulated pressurized cabins to check how the flavors and aromas hold up at high altitudes.
Just the way you select your seats when booking your flights, you can select and pre-order meals created by the chefs of your choice through the airline’s Book the Cook program. In the mood for Kapoor’s Shahi Thali – a platter of Indian basmati rice, roti, chutneys and entrée of the day, or Murata’s Kyo-Kaiseki, a journey through a Japanese imperial court banquet of Heian, temple meals during Kamakura, the feasts of samurais during Muromachi, and the tea ceremonies of Higashiyama? All paired with fine sake, wines and champagnes served by trained air sommeliers. Who says airline food is boring?
Dietary restrictions are not a problem. You can pre-order Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Only Seafood or Kosher meal 24 hours before departure as well.
Such princely pleasures must come with a First-Class price tag, you would think. The new Premium Economy cabin is a hybrid between business and coach, offering affordable fares in lieu of wider seats, larger entertainment screens, noise-cancellation headphones, personal care kits, a free flow of Champagne and the ability to pre-order meals up to 24 hours before flight departure.
If you feel like splurging, book yourself a private Suite – an individual cabin with sliding door, window blinds, a real bed, chaise lounge, and finer dining options. Caviar, lobster thermidor and fresh tiramisu served on Wedgwood bone china brought to you in your own personal cabin – now that’s a traveling gourmand!
Check out pictures of airline food taken by everyday passengers and eat well on your next flight.