Travel

Surely You Can't Be Serious

Danny Meyer has teamed up with Delta to give airplane food a makeover
Baked paccheri basil cream, Parmigiano-Reggiano and greenmarket spring vegetables, from Delta One's menu | Photo: Delta

Move over, Biscoff. Danny Meyer will take it from here. The Union Square Hospitality CEO, who teamed up with Delta in 2013, has lofty ambitions to improve the face of notoriously bad airplane food.

What began three years ago as service for Business Elite Express Meals from Blue Smoke's team on flights from New York to London has turned into a goal to serve meals to Delta One's cabin that are "just as good as the food set on the table in Union Square's restaurants," the New York Times reports.

Restaurant chefs have long worked with airlines, the Times points out, but typically "the food served under a chef's name on board does not approach the standards of the food served in the chef's restaurant."

Not one to back down from a challenge, Meyer isn't deterred by the numerous obstacles of serving restaurant-quality meals on a plane. Nor are the Union Square Hospitality chefs who are crafting the menu. After Delta asked Union Square Cafe executive chef and partner Carmen Quagliata, who is behind Delta One's menu, to serve pasta, the skeptical chef took on the challenge after spotting a piece of Delta's china. He ended up serving a baked pasta that "now comes out all bubbly and smelling fantastic," as he describes.

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The menu has been a work in progress, and through trial and error—discovering, for example, that chunky soups poured out of pitchers are problematic—it's improving. One high point has been the discovery that barbecue makes great plane food.

Though Meyer's food is currently offered only in the Delta One cabin, 2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year for airplane food overall: American Airlines and United are adding free snacks back to their main cabin service for domestic flights. And while we may not have entered the "golden age of airplane food" quite yet, with Danny Meyer in the game, the sky's the limit.

Find Blue Smoke here, or in our DINE app.

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