A meal in the airlines is hardly a pleasant experience with cold, bland and unappetising dishes packed closely together on a plastic tray.
However, Taj SATS with its newly-launched “table set-up” concept for Air India’s business class travellers, is looking to change this for the better.
“We want to elevate the experience of in-flight dining. Our guests today are well-travelled and thus connoisseurs of food from across the globe,” says chef Satish Arora, director of food production at Taj SATS. With this initiative, the airline plans to move away from casserole-style presentation to a set up that emulates a restaurant experience where each course will be heated in the galleys and plated before being served.
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At the company’s Santacruz office, in Mumbai, Arora is prepping for a masterclass on setting up an airline table and other culinary etiquettes to be perfected by the airline’s cabin crew. “Do you know why large quantities of tomato juice is consumed on airlines? Or why in-flight meals tend to be more salty?” he asks before offering the scientific explanation for the dismal quality of airline food. “Airplanes fly above 35,000 feet above sea level, but the pressure inside the cabin is maintained at not more than that of 8,000 feet. This manipulation numbs taste buds and dries out our nose, thus impairing our sense of taste and smell,” he says.
Demonstrating the serving process to be adopted in the airlines, Arora places a piece of seared fish on a bed of rice and carefully plates salads on the side. “When we design a menu, we look at seasonality, profile of guests, destination and even colour combination on the plate,” adds Arora, emphasising that presentation is the key.