By Farrah Shaikh
Updated November 20, 2015
Marta's Chicken Meatballs
© Delta Air Lines

Good news weary travellers: Airlines have finally gotten the hint that we want good food. No more cardboard chicken buried in oily sauce. No more stale sandwiches with limp lettuce. Delta Air Lines has announced that it is pairing up with Danny Meyer’s hip Italian spot, Marta for select first class flights out of JFK.

The move is part of Delta’s new efforts to provide fresh, seasonal ingredients and better quality dining across the board. Marta Executive Chef Nick Anderer was a skeptic at first, as he sources all of his ingredients carefully, goes to the green market everyday to purchase produce for the restaurant and knows all of his vendors personally. He wasn’t sure how Delta could ensure the same quality 20,000 feet in the air. But Delta said it had established solid relationships with equally high quality vendors to match the effort Anderer puts both into sourcing and cooking his food every day.

The first Marta inspired-menu, launching December 1st, will feature a cured beef bresaola with fingerling potatoes and horseradish crema to start. Next diners can choose from a white bean and sage brodetto (fish stew) or the classic Marta mista salad with romaine, radicchio, olives and cremini mushrooms as an appetizer. For a main course, Delta is offering four options: slow-roasted short ribs, braised lamb shoulder, grilled Nebrodini mushrooms with stewed lentils and kale (for the vegetarians) and Marta’s chicken meatballs, which Anderer assures us tastes exactly as they would in his Manhattan dining room. The menu is set to change seasonally every three months.

New York isn’t the only market getting Chef-designed in-flight meals. Europe-bound flights departing out of Atlanta get to feast on the culinary creations of Chef Linton Hopkins. US to Latin America flights are paired with James Beard Award winning Chef Michelle Bernstein and Chef Michael Chiarello is planning the menu for transcontinental and west coast to Japan flights.

Beatriz Sims, General Manager of International Menu and Product Development, hinted to us that other Danny Meyer restaurants may be joining Marta in the airplane food business soon. Here’s hoping for Shake Shack in the sky!