29 Aug 2018 / 09:08

The latest news from in-flight dining: like the astronauts on Lufthansa, and the state-of-the-art farm for Emirates

To improve the in-flight dining service, big airlines are seeking for innovative solutions, they collaborate with famous chefs, offer tailor-made services. The latest, most original ideas? Emirates' vertical farm and Lufthansa's astronaut meals 

The latest news from in-flight dining: like the astronauts on Lufthansa, and the state-of-the-art farm for Emirates

To improve the in-flight dining service, big airlines are seeking for innovative solutions, they collaborate with famous chefs, offer tailor-made services. The latest, most original ideas? Emirates' vertical farm and Lufthansa's astronaut meals 

In-flight dining

The question of eating well or not on board an airplane is still not commonplace. Too often even the most famous airlines offer (at best, because we often talk about paid services) negligible and tasteless meals, completely forgetting flavour and aesthetics. In recent years, however, many airline groups have chosen to focus on an improvement in passenger services that also includes the quality of the food offer (a site for travelers who do not want to risk bad surprises reviews the best and worst experiences with food by plane). And in this sense, there was no shortage of experiments with great chefs at the service of flight needs (with menus designed ad hoc to be easily heated and served at high altitude, and even some impromptu appearance on board, to cook on occasion during special routes) and expert teams at work to devise new exclusive solutions. At the same time the offer in airports, more and more inclined to host modern food halls, has improved in the direction of a more varied and better quality proposal: many chefs have decided to jump on the bandwagon, and there are several gourmet airports in the world, from Heathrow in London to Leonardo da Vinci airport in Fiumicino, which almost two years ago inaugurated a new terminal with a high concentration of ambitious venues, like Attimi of Heinz Beck, the kitchen of Cristina Bowerman for Autogrill, the restaurant of Michelangelo Citino (without forgetting the Open Bistro by Antonello Colonna, veteran of the Roman airport)..

The vertical farm of Emirates

But there are also those designing ambitious plans for the future, such as Emirates Flight Catering, the company that provides products and food at the UAE airports: in agreement with Crop One group, specialized in the construction of vertical farms, the company will finance the construction of the world's largest vertical farm, starting next winter in Dubai. The works will take more than a year to complete, but when the structure of over 12 thousand square meters will be operational, it will guarantee the supply of fresh products (365 days a year, without the use of pesticides and in a controlled environment with digital tools) for the more than 100 airlines and the 25 airport lounges of the Dubai International Airport served by Emirates. The ambition of the project already speaks of the world's largest airport catering operation, also due to the clear reduction of the environmental impact in terms of carbon dioxide emissions linked to the transport of products (today the UAE import 85% of their food products, while the vertical farm will return 2,700 kilos of fruit and vegetables a day, without excessive waste of water resources). 

Astronaut food… on the plane

Of a completely different type is Lufthansa's almost playful operation, already very active in the development of innovative solutions to pamper its customers on board. From the end of August the German company will offer passengers who fly in business class on long-haul flights departing from Germany the possibility to order a very special meal. The goal? To simulate the impression of being in space, in the company of the astronauts of a space mission. One in particular, that of the ISS space station, where German astronaut Alexander Gerst and his team are since June. At the beginning of the year, in fact, the LSG Lufthansa group also collaborated with the European Space Agency to devise six meals calibrated on the needs of astronauts in view of the German mission. Those same dishes will be served upon request in business class, in special containers like canisters, very similar to those used by the crew of the space station. Don't expect out of the ordinary specialties: like many astronauts forced to spend many months away from home, even Gerst, originally from Swabia, has chosen to bring with him dishes that remind him of everyday cuisine, even in the absence of gravity. So think spatzle, chicken with mushrooms and meat sauce, maultaschen (a stuffed pasta typical of Bavaria). It can't be said that the creatives of Lufthansa lack in originality.

by Livia Montagnoli
translated by Eleonora Baldwin

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