Courtesy of United Airlines

Additional recipes were provided by chefs from the nonprofit Trotter Project.

Adam Campbell-Schmitt
Updated December 28, 2018

If you’re looking for inspiration for tonight’s dinner, your most recent airline meal is probably the last culinary experience you’d turn to. By and large, airline food is bland, uninspiring, and designed for quick, compact service. But if you’re flying in business or first class, you’ll know that sometimes the dishes served at 30,000 feet aren’t always the pits (I’m still chasing a copycat recipe for a smoked arctic char dish I had on a flight to Iceland). So when you hear that United Airlines put out a cookbook of some of its inflight meal recipes earlier this month, don’t think bags of peanuts or cold cuts on a roll. The newly released book pulls from the menu at the front of the cabin.

Launched in 2016, United’s Polaris Business and First class service offers up newer seats, fancier airport lounges, and dedicated check-in and security lines. Of course, the food was upgraded too. To take that portion on, United partnered with the Trotter Project, a nonprofit started by friends and relatives of the late chef Charlie Trotter which provides educational programs in the culinary arts and restaurant industry. As part of that collaboration, the airline’s executive chefs and Trotter Project chefs create the meals that are served on board in the Polaris section. And it's from this collaboration that the United Polaris Cookbook was born.

"The United Polaris cookbook was created by United chefs in partnership with chefs from The Trotter Project," a United representative said in an emailed statement. "The 40 recipes are inspired by the United Polaris business class experience. A portion of proceeds will be donated to The Trotter Project to continue its mission of inspiring the next generation of culinary professionals."

According to United's website, the Polaris inflight menu changes monthly, so the cookbook has quite a few dishes to choose from. The book retails for $29.99 on the United Shop.

United isn’t alone in the airline cookbook section of the bookstore — according to the Los Angeles Times, Delta, American West, Hawaiian Airlines, and Southwest have all previously put out official tomes of air travel eats.

While the Polaris food doesn’t seem anywhere near as bland as the Economy offerings, we might have an unlikely hero to thank if our long-haul lunch gets a little better: Chrissy Teigen. The model and cookbook author recently tweeted her distaste with Delta’s inflight food and may have wrangled herself a job as the airline’s newest menu consultant.

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