Etihad’s personal chef concept has transformed inflight dining, writes Food Companion International’s Mel Nathan
People now choose an airline for the in-flight product and the inflight service, which is very much part of the overall factor of choice, even more so for long haul flying. A good airline will never compromise food and beverage quality; their theory is that they are deemed to ensure their passengers are nourished while transported in their cabins, so if they are required to uplift food and beverage then they must do it properly, add some flair and maintain quality.
While the top criteria for airline choice is scheduling, then safety, you may be surprised to learn that a close third is the inflight products (food and wine).
I look at the food being served as part of the overall entertainment package on board an aircraft, food creates discussion, anticipation and helps make time fly, (no pun) especially for long haul traveling.
Food served on airlines has come a long way and with innovation improving so significantly over the last few years or so, now boasting galley equipment such as computerised convection ovens, frying pans, toasters, rice makers and even in-flight espresso machines, of course these are fitted to serve passengers at the pointy end of the aircraft. The inflight chef is also seen to be taking the front end market very seriously.
With Etihad there will soon be something new on board being offered, complemented by a fairly high degree of service and safety awareness. The national airline of the United Arab Emirates, based in Abu Dhabi plans to transform inflight dining this year, employing 100 new qualified international chefs to manage the galley and offer the ultimate freshness in product along with exceptional plate presentation. They have already started looking for fully qualified people with formal culinary training and experience in esteemed hotels, restaurants and culinary institutions from around the world.
Etihad’s personal chefs will tailor make dishes based on the guests particular taste and preference in its Diamond or first class cabins.
The chief executive officer of Etihad, James Hogan, said the introduction of this special new position on board Etihad flights represented a major departure from traditional inflight service and would cement Etihad’s position as one of the world’s most innovative airlines.
“We will, however, continue to push the boundaries so that we continue to impress and surprise our guests. The introduction of highly skilled chefs will enable us to make a dramatic shift in the way we serve our guests.”
Acclaimed chef Thomas Ulherr has been appointed to the position of corporate executive chef. Among his numerous accolades, Thomas is a three time Gold Medal winner in the IKA Culinary Olympics.
The new chef service was introduced on selected routes from October and will be fully available on all flights offering first class by the end of 2011.
Chef Werner Kimmeringer is the guiding force behind the sensational tucker on offer at Etihad Catering.