On board the world’s largest flying restaurant

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his is not the first time that I have flown with Emirates as it is usually my first choice when it comes to most routes and the stopover in Dubai is a bonus.

Scrupulous logistics: Food and Wine

Flipping through the entertainment system, I come across the food and wine channels, which give me a behind-the-scenes insight into how the airline creates on-board menus and works with its global partners. I love the Sri Lanka episode, which takes me through how Dilmah tea is selected to be served on board.

It is interesting to watch how Emirates brings premium produce on board through long-standing partnerships worldwide, counting indigenous purveyors and artisans. I understand that formulating airplane food is no tranquil feat. It is a tightrope operation, linking scrupulous logistics on a huge scale and there is no room for any mistakes. Meals need to be delivered on time before the plane departs and nothing can be missed out on as there is no turning back once the plane has taken off.

Business and first-class meals are a rung up from the economy-class foil trays that I am used to. I am travelling business-class this time around as I have enough miles and have been upgraded. My meal certainly is fancier in presentation and ingredients and carefully plated up on Royal Doulton fine bone china.

Regional menus

On my Cape Town-to-Dubai flight, I had a Grilled Ostrich Fillet, served with red verjus reduction, creamy polenta and glazed pearl onions. Having visited Ostriland, where I sampled ‘An All Ostrich Affair’, I can totally relate to the quality of ingredients and the thought process behind planning this particular dish on this particular route. Likewise, I can say that, on my Dubai-to-Cape Town flight, I quite enjoyed the traditional Arabic Mezze, alongside other typically Middle Eastern fare. Emirates is the only airline serving traditional cuisines from the nations that its patrons come from and places they are travelling to.

In 2016, customers consumed

  • 100 MILLION MEALS
  • 3 MILLION EGGS
  • 70 TONS OF STRAWBERRIES
  • 58 MILLION BAKED BREAD ROLLS
  • 110,000 KG OF HUMMUS
  • 165 TONS OF SALMON FILLET

Signature dishes

  • Emirati Machbous
  • Arabic Mezze Selection
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding

The dining logistics

  • 2,500 pieces of cutlery per flight
  • 1,400 pieces of crockery per flight
  • 1,500 menus
  • 590 flights catered to/day
  • 190 meals served per minute
  • 23,000+ cabin crew
  • 1200 chéfs
  • 12,450 recipes
  • Catering investment in 2016: $1 billion+

A strong team

“Food and wine are emotional and quite personal,” says Joost Heymeijer, senior VP of catering at Emirates! “What we aim to do at Emirates is to create experiences that are fairly special, but also remarkably simple.” Stephen Towler, senior beverage adviser, ensures the offering of wines on any route is second to none.

My favourite wine on-board is hands down ‘The Chocolate Block’, which I sampled also at Boekenhoutskloof, where I met Marc Kent, managing partner and driving force behind this dynamic property in Franschhoek.

(Story by Rupali Dean)