A sommelier to help select wines from Italy, Switzerland and France, mocktails instead of orange juice for non-drinkers, and ‘retraining’ chefs at its 28 catering stations abroad. These are part of Air India’s plan to revamp its business/first class menu for the upcoming winter season. The chefs at the international centres will be called back and ‘re-trained’ because the national carrier discovered through a study that their cooking had lost the ‘Indian flavour’.
Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar confirmed that AI’s food menu is being revamped for the winter season.
Sources told The Indian Express that a study was recently conducted by Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani. A committee was formed to review the quality of India cuisine being served to passengers, traveling to and from India. “The committee reviewed it for over a month and found that most chefs hired by them had been sent to foreign stations in 28 countries around a decade ago. But their food had lost the ‘authentic Indian flavour’ — a sentiment echoed by several passengers on international flights,” sources said.
The committee also found in their study that the national carrier was serving the same wines to their passengers for over eight years, and had no options for teetotalers except juice. “After committee’s final reports, recently a meeting was called by the CMD Lohani where they discussed the same issues. Some of the committee members suggested that they are already facing financial loss and if they make some changes, then there is a strong possibility that they will spend more money. But other members suggested that their prime target is business and first class passengers. And if they manage to impress them, people might opt for their flights more often,” sources said.
It was decided that they will change their food menu of winter season and will be done in next one and half months, sources in Air India said after the meeting. “They have decided to hire a sommelier, who will first taste their wines, which they are procuring from Italy, Switzerland and France. They have decided to give option of mocktails to their business and first class passengers, if they did not like orange juice,” the sources added.
“It was also decided to call all the chefs once in India and send people from here to their respective country. After calling and sending them, they will ask them to take training here once again and ask them to join again after taking proper training,” the sources said.
Apart from this, it was also decided to start serving regional food to the passengers. “We are planning to serve food such as litti chokha, pav bhaji recipe — if the flight cross from Bihar or from Mumbai,” the sources added.