Ever wanted to know how an airline goes about the mammoth task of creating a first class inflight meal? During a recent trip to Zurich we had the chance to take a behind the scenes look at how first and business class meals are created by the Swiss airline and their catering partner Gate Gourmet. No trip to an airline caterer is complete without a taste testing session and it’s our lucky day, we get to sample the latest in First class meals!
SOME RANDOM FACTS
For a newly hired flight attendant at Swiss to work in First Class they must first complete a minimum of three years of service with the company, but due to the popularity of working in first class the actual wait time can be up to seven years!
On a yearly basis the airline goes through the following amounts of products:
Over 138,000kg of cheese!
Over 15.5 million pieces of those awesome Swiss chocolates you receive inflight.
Over 1.6 million Movenpick ice creams.
Over 256,000 bottles of wine in business class.
Over 69,000 bottles of winde in first class.
Now speaking of wine four times a year wine expert Chandra Kurt comes to the headquarters of Swiss in order to select all the wines that First and Business class customers will pair with their meals.
Nine months before launch
First class airline meal planning can take up to nine months and it usually starts with the airline giving a briefing to their caterer of what they would like to see served inflight. Once the brief is received selected chefs will start to research, get inspiration and create menu ideas.
Five to Six months before launch
Six months before the first meal is to be served inflight the chefs will actually start to cook the first ‘sample’ dishes of their ideas. Five months before the airline caterer will invite Swiss to their facility in order to see the whole menu selection that the chefs have created, it is here that the Swiss product team get to taste everything that will feature on the new menus.
Three months before launch
Approximately three months before launch more staff from Swiss are invited to an inflight meal tasting session just to make sure everything will be perfect for the new meals, and to iron out any problems.
Oh my! It’s the day before launch!
The day before the first meal is to be served inflight everything on the menu is yet again created to specifications and taste tested again and again. These meals that took nine months to create will be served inflight for about 12 weeks and during this time chefs will continually taste test every single thing that is created in their kitchen.
THE TASTE TESTING
Currently specialities from Appenzellerland in Eastern Switzerland are gracing the tray tables of First and Business class passengers. We were fortunate enough to sample quite a number of dishes but the one that really stayed in our mind was the Blueberry slice with chocolate crumble and (wait for it) Appenseller beer ice cream. The airline has even decided to load real beer kegs on all flights from Quollfrisch, which will be served fresh to passengers from the tap (see picture) on flights to San Fransisco and Los Angeles.
A big thanks to the product team at Swiss and the lovely folks at Gate Gourmet for allowing us into their facilities at Zurich Airport!
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