Best Airline Meals in Business Class
When the business-class cabin was introduced in the 1970s, airlines began wooing higher-paying passengers with convenient and innovative features that continue to evolve today.
Just as lie-flat seats and state-of-the-art technology are common in business- and first-class cabins, celebrity chef-designed menus for elevated, in-flight dining are becoming the standard for major carriers’ premium ticketholders. Partnering with celebrity chefs is now one route that airlines are taking to differentiate themselves from competitors, while injecting a little glamour back into travel.
Ready for Takeoff
While Qantas Airways made headlines with its revamped culinary program by bringing in Australia’s most well-known celebrity chef, Neil Perry, back in 1997, Delta Air Lines was among one of the first to revive the practice in 2006. The carrier enlisted the help of James Beard Award-winning Michelle Bernstein, a Florida native known for her appearances on shows like Food Network’s “Melting Pot” and “Iron Chef America.”
Joining her are boldface names like Napa Valley darling Michael Chiarello, Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer and Linton Hopkins, the notable Atlanta-based chef who delivers regional flavors and Southern-inspired ingredients to the Atlanta-based airline.
Passengers flying from New York City to several European hubs will get a taste of Danny Meyer’s bites from Blue Smoke, a critically acclaimed restaurant that celebrates the American South.
Singapore Airlines turns to international destinations for its chefs, nine top industry professionals including Alfred Portale (chef of New York’s Gotham Bar and Grill), Georges Blanc (who put Vonnas, France, on the map with his eponymous institution), Sanjeev Kapoor (the award-winning TV show host and cookbook author from Mumbai, India) and Suzanne Goin (the chef and restaurateur known for introducing Los Angeles to Lucques, a.o.c. and Tavern).
Globally inspired menus offer style and taste, keeping in line with the fine dining concepts that are commonplace on the ground.
Air France passengers also are in for a treat when it comes to onboard dining. First-class cabins feature a wealth of Michelin-starred French chefs on a culinary dream team, including Régis Marcon, Guy Martin, Joël Robuchon, Anne-Sophie Pic and Michel Roth. The chefs are on rotation, ensuring travelers can constantly look forward to different creations. Wine lovers delight in the carefully curated beverage menu by Paolo Basso, named the world’s top sommelier in 2013 by the International Sommelier Association.
The most recent airline to join the world of celebrity chef culinary panels, Qatar Airways has invited Japanese luminary Nobu Matsuhisa and India’s only two Michelin-starred chef, Vineet Bhatia, to bring their celebrity status and food to the skies.
The Sky’s the Limit
Considering the rising competition, the popularity of food culture and the allure of internationally acclaimed chefs, elevated passenger meals will stick like butter—and the dining experience has nowhere to go but up.
Industry experts see a continuation of the current trend where first-class passengers will be able to order whatever they want to eat onboard ahead of time, and some airlines even follow the lead of Etihad and employ onboard chefs to prepare food to order at the preferred time and to the specification of each individual passenger.
With celebrity chefs redefining the formerly dreaded in-flight meal, travelers only need sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.