Inflight Gourmet Dining—How General Managers and Executive Chefs are Redefining the Catering ExperienceMarch 23, 2017 by Natalie Ramos
Culinary reputations aboard airplanes have always been close to nonexistent on commercial flights, to the point that many of us refuse to eat any meals that are served on those flights. Although we try to understand the passenger’s mindset as to why they don’t prefer food that is served on commercial airplanes, the truth is simply: it lacks taste. To add insult to injury, passengers are being forced to pay for mediocrity in food aboard these commercial airlines, if they are hungry. What are the other alternatives? Well, some airlines are pulling out all the stops to satisfy the appetites of their high flyers.
However, there are now an abundance of websites and private jet companies that are following the lead of hotels, timeshares and other travel-oriented websites and offering last-minute deals on all the unused inventory. Thus, changing the cost structure and making private jet travel more affordable and the ability to choose this method of travel more feasible to those who would normally travel commercial airlines.
Private jet companies are serving items such as caviar, seafood ceviche and fancy dishes by Michelin Chefs, such as Jose Andres and his sampling of Eastern Mediterranean and Latin-inspired cuisine, brings a different eclectic feel to the inflight catering experience. Along with collaborating with Michelin Chefs to design new menu items, procuring clients’ favorite dishes at notable restaurants, General Managers and Executives Chefs at companies, such as Air Culinaire Worldwide, are combining their years of experience and diverse culinary backgrounds to elevate and quench the thirst for providing the best client experience through an unwavering lifestyle.
Although many clients continue requesting a more simplistic approach to cuisine such as fruit, cheese and crackers, and vegetable spreads; there are still your lofty and ambitious flyers who appreciate haute cuisine and more detailed presentations – even with the limitations of inflight cooking, reheating and space. Imagine boarding your chartered plane with the comfort of knowing that the flowers for your spouse are waiting on her seat, cupcakes from your daughter’s favorite bakery are aboard with a warm notecard acknowledging her additional year of age, or even something as mundane as your favorite cold-pressed juice has been freshly-made and is waiting to be served onboard your flight. Companies, such as Air Culinaire Worldwide, are offering not only an abundance of standard menu selections, but also taking up the level of service by offering regional menus as well as personalized dining accommodations. Maybe you would like to have a steak from your favorite steakhouse in Washington, D.C., or maybe you would like a specific regional newspaper that must be custom printed. These options are all possible as companies, such as ours, become your personal concierge to your inflight dining experience.
In efforts to enhance a passengers’ experience, and make inflight food and service great, Executive Chefs, such as Patrick Fitzgerald from Air Culinaire Worldwide D.C., are “kicking it up a notch” by tailoring menu themes to match the passengers’ destinations aboard the flight. Tailoring can be as simplistic as a seafood tower, or as intricate as regional specialties, such as Tom Kha Gai Soup from Thailand. General Managers such as Natalie Ramos from Air Culinaire Worldwide D.C., are adding personalized touches, such as gift boxes tailored to specific clients or complimentary gourmet chocolates, as personalized thank you notes. Although these efforts are made from the regional D.C. team, these are just two examples how many teams across the country are joining their efforts to bring satisfaction.
With so many people cumulatively involved in efforts to provide the elite enhancements off traditional standards, there is a continued stride to grow in improvements. Customers’ demands are forever changing, and it is our responsibility to meet and surpass expectations, as well as create new memories.