Story by Barbara Angelakis
Photos by Manos Angelakis
Lufthansa Spreads Its Wings
Familiar as we are with Lufthansa Airlines from having flown with them internationally on many occasions - and always impressed by their efficient and friendly personnel and service - I was unaware that Lufthansa is the parent company and hands-on driving force behind LSG Sky Chefs. LSG Sky Chefs is the food services organization responsible for providing meals to many airlines… both domestic and international. LSG Sky Chefs delivers 532 million meals a year to more than 300 airlines, serving 213 airports in 54 countries. In fact, the company is responsible for every 4th meal served in the skies worldwide… a most impressive accomplishment. Of course it would not be impressive if the food served was less than the high standard the upscale traveling public looks for, and so we attended a Culinary Academy sponsored by Lufthansa, to experience first-hand how their First and Business Class culinary program is developed and managed.
The story begins with Chef Bill Gillen, LSG Sky Chefs Director of Culinary Excellence, and his team of leading chefs, along with Dr. Ingo Buelow, Director Product Management, Inflight Service & Lounges, and Ernst Derenthal, Inflight Service Manager, North America, putting their heads together to develop a menu of tasty, healthy, well-presented meals that will appeal to a diverse national and international audience. No mean accomplishment, because food does not behave the same way in the air as it does on the ground. For instance, altitude alters our taste buds and the longer the flight the greater the chance that food will not taste “right”. So, scientific trial and error plays a big roll in adapting food for inflight consumption. Extensive research by the culinary team has revealed that amounts of flavorings and spices need to be enhanced to counter the numbing effect that altitude visits on our taste buds. Once a dish is selected from more than hundreds of proposed recipes that are developed solely form locally sourced foods, the team has to modify the seasonings according to the flight information for each trip. To add complexity to the process, every two months the menu changes for variety and to satisfy frequent flyer travelers... a daunting task.
While LSG’s home office is located in Dallas, Texas, there are 41 customer service centers in our region alone responsible for maintaining the standards for food processing and meal delivery. Each meal is individually packaged, and once on board, cooked in a convection oven (not microwaved). It is plated according to a pre-determined and photographed detailed arrangement, and appropriately garnished. Presentation is a vital part of meal enjoyment and it is well known that we feast with our eyes and engage our sense of smell before ever lifting a fork to mouth; so every effort has gone into making the presentation appealing.
At the Culinary Academy we were treated to samples of the new multi-fusion menu items which were introduced onboard flights as of April. The combination of ingredients and preparations run the gamut from American regional, to Asian influenced, to Italian and Spanish inspired, covering a something for everyone range of dishes. The appetizers included Firecracker Shrimp marinated in chilies, cumin, garlic and cilantro and served with a gazpacho of tomatillo, cucumber and avocado; marinated Beef Tenderloin, sliced thin and rolled around Enoki Mushrooms and Shiso Leaves; and Maryland Blue Lump Crab Cakes served with a vegetable succotash. We moved on to entrees of Pacific Salmon encrusted with Yukon Potato and topped by sauce cabernet; Herb Roasted Breast of Chicken over Red Quinoa with a side of Fontina Cheese and Spinach; and for a vegetarian selection there was Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli stuffed with Butternut Squash puree and topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and hazelnuts. All items looked as good as they tasted, so kudos to Chef Gillen and his dedicated team.
Lufthansa and its partners serve over 450 destinations in more than 120 countries. Long committed to environmental sustainability and operating a technologically-advanced and fuel-efficient fleet worldwide, it has been voted by Fortune Magazine as one of the five most admired airlines in the world.
© May 2014 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.