Delicious airline food is seen by many as an oxymoron, with it often being the butt of jokes. However, a growing number of airlines are recruiting celebrity and Michelin-star chefs in order to scale up the in-flight dining experience, while at the same time referencing a particular country’s cuisine and ingredients.
Airline chefs are tasked with the challenge of creating gourmet meals that will last through the distance, cabin pressure, and all the bumps that go along with dining on a plane. To top that off, the chefs never have the pleasure of “finishing” the meal and seeing it on its way to be delivered to diners. That means they need to ensure cabin crew have all the tools and training needed to execute the final preparation.
Fish presents an even greater set of challenges than most food when it comes to airline cuisine, requiring specific cooking methods that will retain its moisture, eliminate the risk of overcooking, and keep it flavorful. Yet fish is one of the best choices passengers could make when flying long distances; being light, healthy, and full of easily digested protein.
The concept of partnering with successful and well-known chefs in the airline’s home country is not a new one. Qantas celebrated a 20-year anniversary with chef Neil Perry in 2017 – the longest relationship of its kind in aviation industry.
To commemorate the occasion, Qantas served some of its most popular menu items, which coincidentally included mostly seafood dishes. They included a stir fry crab omelette, Korean-style yellowfin tartar, lobster with XO sauce, and grilled salmon with squid ink noodles.
“Listening to customer feedback, engaging with the crew who prepare the menu in-flight, and being sure to create dishes that use the best seasonal produce across each destination that Qantas flies to, are the three vital components to creating a successful menu each season,” Perry said.
Over the years, Perry has carefully selected species that have been added to the airline's seafood offerings. They include:
- Blue Eye Trevalla – "This fish has dense white flesh and maintains moisture beautifully inflight," Perry said.
- Glacier 51 Patagonian Toothfish – Per Perry, this is "one of the great fish of the seas wild caught in Antarctic waters is a perfect variety for in-flight use."
- Spencer Gulf Prawns – "Sustainable, Australian, and incredibly delicious," Perry noted.
- Fraser Isle Spanner Crab – According to Perry, "the sweetness of this crab works in so many dishes and our customers love it."
“It’s impossible to imagine food and wine on Qantas without Neil’s influence, which shows you the way he’s made it his own over the past two decades,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said to mark the occasion. “We say that when you step on a Qantas flight overseas you’re already in Australia – and a Neil Perry meal is part of that experience.”
Following are 5 of Qantas top seafood offerings: