Today: Which airlines serve Michelin-star meals in the skies?
Having a dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant is often an wonderful, unforgettable experience. But enjoying one inside an airplane at 40,000 ft in the air, feels even more incredible. Airplane food has a reputation for being notoriously unappetizing, but over the past decade, collaborations between airlines and award-winning, Michelin-starred chefs have really taken off. From using high-quality ingredients to creating innovative dishes that highlight their country’s signature cuisine, airlines are taking luxury to new heights by re-inventing their onboard food. So, while airline food has long left upturned noses and rumbling stomachs, the following airlines aim to do the opposite by introducing Michelin-star dining for First and Business Class passengers.
Air France has a long history of collaborating witch Michelin-starred chefs. This year, the carrier is working together with a total of seventeen chefs to promote French culinary excellence. The only airline to partner with so many Michelin-starred chefs, Air France is reaffirming more than ever its role as an ambassador for fine French dining and expertise throughout the world. Voted “World’s Best First-Class Onboard Catering” at the latest Skytrax World Airline Awards 2023, The La Première cabin currently offers menus signed by renowned triple Michelin-starred chef Régis Marcon. Nature continues to inspire this chef, who draws his inspiration from the Ardèche and Auvergne regions to create his onboard dishes for Air France, which may include fillet of sea bass and prawns with chanterelle mushrooms, bouillabaisse style or guinea fowl fillet with blueberries, roast potatoes and baby carrots. Joining him is two-star chef Thierry Marx Lallement, who is working on Air France’s Business Class menu.
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Dutch flag carrier KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offers menus in Business Class that are created by Jonnie Boer, a famous Dutch chef who is known from three Michelin starred restaurant De Librije. Located in Zwolle, this restaurant features amongst the world’s top 50. KLM’s dishes are made with sustainable and traditional Dutch ingredients which could also be found on the menu of restaurant De Librije. Starters may includes tartelette of apple, potatoes, and green asparagus, or a tasting of delicacies (e.g. grilled zucchini in a cream of tahini, chickpea salad, garlic feta, and nut salad), while main courses may include baked salmon with broccolini, roasted tomatoes and couscous, or chicken thigh in a star anise gravy served with braised green cabbage and potato puree. The carrier also offers excellent wine pairing, selected by sommelier Thérèse Boer, Jonnie Boer’s longtime partner and co-owner at the De Librije. KLM previously cooperated with leading Dutch chefs including Jacob Jan Boerma, Cees Helder, Margot Janse, Sergio Herman, Richard Ekkebus, Mario Ridder and Richard Oostenbrugge.
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As a Belgian ambassador, Brussels Airlines offers its passengers in Business Class a taste of Belgium’s internationally acclaimed cuisine. What started ten years ago with gourmet menus by Michelin-starred chef Geert Van Hecke has grown into a true tradition for travelers on intercontinental flights with Brussels Airlines in 2023. Every year, a Belgian Star Chef creates a three-course menu based on typically Belgian recipes and ingredients. Since October, these menus are created by Michelin-starred chef Michaël Vrijmoed of the eponymous Ghent restaurant Vrijmoed. Vrijmoed began his culinary career as a sous-chef at Hof van Cleve where he was the right-hand man to top chef Peter Goossens. In 2013, he started his own restaurant in Ghent. In recent years, it grew into one of the best vegetable restaurants in the world. As in previous years, the accompanying Belgian wines are carefully selected by Master of Wine, Jan De Clercq and beer sommelier Sofie Vanrafelghem selected the Belgian, local beers.
SWISS INTERNATIONAL AIR LINES
Long-haul passengers traveling in SWISS’ First or Business Class cabin departing from Switzerland can enjoy the delights of the carrier’s award-winning gastronomic concept. The menus change every three months. They are created by selected guest chefs whose first-class restaurants have received Michelin stars and Gault Millau points. The focus is on regional and seasonal specialities that guarantee a culinary flight of fancy. Currently, SWISS’ onboard meals have been created by Olivier Jean, the executive chef at the luxury The Woodward hotel and owner of L’Atelier Robuchon restaurant, in which he subtly blends French haute cuisine with Asian influences and local specialities. The restaurant is already the proud holder of a Michelin star and 15 GaultMillau points. Whenever possible, the airline also offer its passengers wine from the cantons or neighbouring regions of the chefs. These could be discovery wines from top producers, in limited quantities or new creations. The varied offer on board reflects Switzerland’s wine landscape.
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Passengers travelling in Singapore Airlines’ Business and First Class get to sample delicious food from a five-member International Culinary Panel. The panel comprises France’s three-Michelin-starred icon, Georges Blanc, Australian chef Matthew Moran, who holds a coveted One Chef’s hat accolade and India’s Sanjeev Kapoor, a Mercury Gold Award winner. Japanese culinary maestro and Kaseki master Yoshihiro Murata, whose restaurant holds seven Michelin stars, is also on board. Singapore Airlines has Chinese chef Zhu Jun on the panel as well. Inspired by varied cultures and the places the Airline flies to, this celebrated team constantly invents new dishes that delight. Passengers in First Class and Business Class can reserve their main courses in advance via Book The Cook service. Travelers can also pair their food with a wide range of wines specially picked by Singapore Airline’s wine consultants who, together, taste more than 1,000 wines annually.
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High-altitude dining is a fine art, one which Cathay Pacific has embraced as a cornerstone of a new culinary initiative that raises the bar for inflight dining – from sourcing more sustainable seafood to curating thoughtful wellness menus and serving freshly brewed coffee, and putting detail at the heart of every dish. To reach this goal, the airline has established a partnership with Duddell’s, which sees the popular Michelin-starred institution’s Cantonese fine dining take flight on the plates of First Class and Business Class passengers departing from Hong Kong. Located on the historic Duddell Street in the heart of Central, Duddell’s was designed to feel like guests have been welcomed into the home of a great art collector – one that also happens to have an in-house Michelin starred culinary team. The menus that Duddell’s created for Cathay Pacific are built on flavors and ingredients that represent the city’s heritage, diversity and ingenuity: from main courses like wok-fried lobster seasoned with ginger, or premium Iberico pork belly simmered in a sweet, sticky soy sauce glaze; to chrysanthemum and longan jelly for dessert.
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JAPAN AIRLINES (JAL)
Since its launch in January 2013, Japan Airlines’ BEDD prograe, which emphasises the concept of a ‘restaurant in the sky’, has been establishing partnerships with renowned Michelin-starred chefs to interpret their food into in-flight dining menus for First and Business Class passengers. The carrier’s various multi-course tasting menus are divided into Japanese and Western options, serving dozens of high-flying First Class passengers per day and hundreds more in Business Class. In true Japanese culinary fashion, each Michelin-themed menu changes seasonally to guarantee the produce is at its freshest. Sliced wagyu beef and steamed sea urchin topped with sudachi citrus gelée and caviar is the signature JAL dish of chefs Ishikawa Hideki and Koizumi Kouji of Ishikawa Kagurazaka and Restaurant Kohaku in Tokyo. With six stars between them, the two teamed up to create an ultra-luxurious menu for First Class passengers flying from Tokyo to various North American and European cities, including New York and Paris. Passengers flying First Class on the same routes from Tokyo are served cuisine by Chef Kishida Shuzo’s from three Michelin-star Quintessence in Tokyo.
ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS (ANA)
To ANA, a “Connoisseur” is the embodiment of the ultimate host: someone with great knowledge in entertaining your palate. The airline’s carefully curated menus on its international and domestic flights are thoughtfully presented by an internationally renowned team of Michelin-starred chefs, opening new frontiers in the art of dining from 10,000 meters in the air. Famous chefs that create menus for ANA include including Toru Okuda, Yoshihiro Takahashi, Ryuta Iizuka, Masayasu Yonemura and Hideki Takayama. Dishes may include barracuda wrapped in maitake mushrooms and grilled over a cedar plank or braised pork belly with baby onions and spinach topped with puréed potatoes alongside grilled white miso-marinated ocean perch, served with sweet vinegared Japanese myoga ginger, satsumaage fried fishcake, and steamed gluten mixed with millet. Also, since September 1, 2023, ANA has been offering vegan curry as part of its in-flight light meal menu, which has been developed by “Daigo,” a two Michelin star restaurant in the Michelin Guide Tokyo. Made from locally-sourced vegetables and fruits, the curry does not contain any animal ingredients or flour, making it an option for passengers with dietary needs to enjoy.