In May, Anthony Bourdain famously said he never eats plane food. “No one has ever felt better after eating plane food. I think people only eat it because they’re bored. I don’t eat on planes. I like to arrive hungry,” he told Bon Appetit.
A statement that went viral, because it’s a mindset of most travelers. Plane food is bland, you never get what you requested anyway, and plus, you leave the plane bloated AF.
But Singapore Airlines (SQ), which is a recipient of many a best airline in the world award, is eagerly challenging that mindset.
“When airlines started, there was no entertainment. Food was the only thing there was. We sit, do nothing, and we eat a lot of food. So yes, I agree with him,” begins Hermann Freidanck, Singapore Airlines’ jovial executive chef.
“But the world has changed. You eat better food, but less. The food is more refined [unlike before when it was] big, petty stuff. You make your menus better.”
It’s a strategy SQ is serious about. According to Eugene Goh, Station Manager for Manila, menus change every three months. Every two months, a smaller update happens. In 2017, Singapore Airlines plan to hold these smaller updates every eight weeks!
That’s not mentioning the airlines’ strict F&B protocols and special programs. We list them below:
1. Food tasting is done in a pressurized environment. When you’re up in the air, your palate changes, so the food tastes different. SQ thought it would be good to hold food tastings in a pressurized cabin to ensure that what you’re eating onboard matches your changed palate.
2. SQ has its International Culinary Panel. In 1998, SQ assembled a team of Michelin-starred chefs from all over the world to create delicious selections available on board. Alongside the ICP are Singapore Airlines Wine Consultants who handpicked the wines and blind tasted them under cabin pressure.
3. You can now pre-order your meals. Well, guests on premium economy and up at least. SQ boasts of the Book The Cook Service that allows passengers to order their main course ahead of time—at least 24 hours before the departure. “We only load up as much food as people onboard, so sometimes the guy on the back doesn’t get what he wants. We started the BTC service to overcome that problem,” continues Hermann.
4. ‘Deliciously Wholesome’ program. It’s a new program launched in April to address the needs of health-conscious travelers—like those who bloat easily during long-haul flights. There are eight healthy dishes from Western to Asian cuisines that are not only delicious but with quality ingredients, are also beneficial for well-being.
5. It’s never a one-menu-fits-all arrangement. This is how SQ determines your food: Depending on the destination and the passenger profile. Manila-bound flights, for instance, always as Adobo or pancit. If you’re going to India, we’ll put a vegetarian dish there. But one thing is certain: They must be authentic. “We emphasize that our caterers must represent cuisines properly. So if you’re coming from LA and we happen to have a Thai dish, you can be assured that it’s not going to be American Thai.”