Could this be the year when airline food gets good?
Unlikely, but change is in the air (literally): Daniel Boulud just announced that he is working with Air France to develop meals for first- and business-class passengers. And he's not the only big name to align with an airline recently. Delta unveiled a whole collection of celebrity-chef partnerships late last year: Linton Hopkins is preparing dishes for Europe-bound flights out of Atlanta, Michelle Bernstein is covering U.S.-to-Latin America flights, Michael Chiarello is tackling transcontinental and west coast flights to Japan, and chef Nick Anderer (from Danny Meyer's Marta) is crafting meals for select first-class flights out of JFK.
Of course none of these chefs will be on your flight, hovering over a flame to cook your precious meal. Nor will they be camped out in the airlines commissary orchestrating thousands of meals for world travelers. They are designing the dishes and, in most cases, sourcing quality ingredients—certainly better than what usually passes for food at 35,000 feet in the air.
Boulud (a member of F&W's first-ever class of Best New Chefs in 1988) is already feeding an international clientele; he has restaurants in New York, Boston, Palm Beach, Miami, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Singapore, London, Toronto and Montreal. He's also developed menus for the Queen Mary 2 transatlantic ocean liner. Air France has worked with many top tocques in the past, including Joël Robuchon, Guy Martin, Michel Roth and Thibaut Ruggeri.
On the menu at Air France:
- Atlantic Lobster, Curried Coconut Sauce, Black Rice and Bok Choy
- Provencal Lamb Chop, Zucchini Pesto, Tomato, and Cheese Polenta
- Tomato Braised Chicken, Four Bean Medley and Basil
- Peppered Beef Tenderloin, Cranberry, Squash and Spinach Custard
- Sea Bass in Vine Leaves, Za'atar, Farro and Grape
- Salmon with Fennel, Chickpea and Sumac
- Moroccan Chicken Tagine, with Lemon, Cauliflower and Couscous
- Braised Chicken Basquaise with Chorizo, Peppers, and Saffron Rice
- Braised Lamb with Spring Root Vegetables and Edamame
Not planning a swanky flight to Paris any time soon? Cook some Boulud recipes at home.