Peanuts and Pringles may be the typical in-flight fare, but some airlines are elevating meals to fine dining. With the help of five renowned jet-setting chefs, we get the dish on which airlines earn the pros’ hard-earned nods of approval for the best food at 30,000 feet.
Richard Rosendale: team captain of Bocuse d’Or USA
Best inflight food: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
The dish: They served a ham and cheese baguette very early in the morning while I was traveling to Luxembourg, after a not-so-great flight from the U.S. The meal was simple and well prepared.
What’s your No. 1 tip for choosing an inflight meal? Sometimes the simplest meals are the best.
Anita Lo: chef-owner of Annisa in New York
Best inflight food: Thai Airways
The dish: It was a simple spicy curry over rice, served with La Vieille Ferme wines. Perhaps the food was better there because there isn’t a history of processed foods in Thailand. I’ve never really had a better meal on an airline.
What makes an airline meal special? It’s edible.
Richard Blais: chef/owner of The Spence in Atlanta, and star of Bravo’s Life After Top Chef
Best inflight food: Delta
The dish: My frequent New York to Atlanta flight has a choice of pastrami sandwich or cold fried chicken. How fun, to incorporate the traditional cuisine of both locations! P.S. Get the chicken.
How can you elevate an airline meal? It has to “not” feel like an airline experience, from the quality to flatware to service.
Art Smith: chef/owner of Table Fifty-Two in Chicago and Southern Art in Atlanta
Best inflight food: ANA, All Nippon Airways
The dish: When on long flights, I prefer light food and this airline serves Japanese, which is naturally light. My favorite is the Japanese breakfast. I love the pickles, grilled salmon, hot rice and seaweed. It’s clean and delicious.
Inflight meal must-haves: Clean, simple flavors.
Ming Tsai: chef/owner of Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Mass.
Best inflight food: Singapore Airlines
The dish: They had this fantastic beef noodle soup, and they served it with every condiment imaginable for you to customize to your own particular tastes. Perfect.
Airline dining extra credit: I loved that the food on Singapore Airlines is totally à la carte, allowing me to dine on my own time schedule. When it was time for breakfast, I was able to order my eggs, my way. From the opening glass of Dom Pérignon, they really take great care with everything.
Photos Courtesy of Sara Hanna Photography, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Anthony Tieuli