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Fast Private Jet presents: The Ultimate Meal in the Sky

Thursday 24 March 2022 Blog

Offbeat luxury experiences are becoming highly sought after. We see more and more of our clients chartering yachts for a business brunch or flying half way around the world to experience the most coveted dining establishments - see Noma in Copenhagen and Le Gavroche in London.  

People love to come together for extraordinary eating experiences, and yet our team noticed a gap in the market for a luxury in-flight menu  that would match up to the high flying dining experiences appearing across the globe.

To create the ultimate in-flight tasting menu, we must recognise how the high altitude and air pressure when flying has an affect on our taste buds and our sensory ability to enjoy food.  To find out more about the science behind why this happens, and how our taste buds are affected, we spoke to registered nutritionist (MSc, mBANT) and expert in nutrigenetics, Ellie Busby. She has shared her expert knowledge with us, revealing the types of food that may differ in flavour, and foods that flourish in the hypobaric environment of an aeroplane; 

Low pressure and auditory stimulation (i.e. noise in the aircraft cabin) have both been shown to influence flavour perception. The hypobaric (low atmospheric pressure) atmosphere in a cabin has been hypothesised to be the main contributing factor, resulting in a decreased sense of flavour - mainly due to reduced ability to smell.

"On planes, people had significantly decreased sensitivity to sour and salty flavours, but an increased sensitivity to sweet flavours." This means that salty, citrus and sour foods may need adding to, whilst sweet foods should be used sparingly.

Based on Busby’s knowledge, we asked Michelin-trained chef, Stephen Toward, and Master Sommelier, Doug Frost, to curate the ultimate seven course in-flight taster menu for you, complete with wine pairings for each dish. They have put together the best ingredients and flavours to tantalise your in-flight taste buds;

Ultimate meal in the sky - menu

Course One - Truffle & Duck

Truffle Bang Ravioli with Smoked Flaked Confit Duck

Chef Stephen Toward gives his commentary on why he has chosen each dish based on the advice from Busby regarding how our taste changes with high altitude travel: 

"This dish has been created to kick your taste buds off with the smoky salted taste of slow confit duck legs, and a sharp contrast to the rich earthy taste of the truffle bang ravioli."

We then spoke with Master of Wine, Doug Frost, for the reason behind his wine pairing suggestions.

"I would choose to pair this dish with Banfi Rosso di Montalcino 2019 Tuscany, Italy – the Sangiovese grape isn’t just about tangy red cherry flavours but carries with it a touch of earth and herbal components that highlight this intense dish."

Busby tells us that on planes people have a significantly decreased sensitivity to sour and salty flavours, so dishes need to have a kick to them to really hold their flavour. She tells us that white carbohydrates - such as the ravioli, are a good choice as they do not lose as much flavour as other foods and their texture isn’t dramatically affected by the pressure. 

Course Two - Wild garlic & Nettle

Wild Garlic & Nettle Veloute with Frog Legs

Toward: "The idea behind this dish was to get the vibrant colour and flavour of Nettle & wild garlic with a hint of anchovy saltness to give a flavoursome refreshing soup."

Frost: "I would pair this particular dish with Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner 2019 Austria – the Grüner Veltliner grape is Austria’s crown jewel and here its middle-weight texture and savoriness allow the soup to shine."

Busby tells us that sensitivity to bitter flavours seems to stay constant, so some bitter leafy greens are a good addition to a meal in-flight. The nettle and wild garlic in this dish provide both leafy greens and a kick of flavour needed when designing a meal to be had in this altitude.

Course Three - Cheese & Pear

Goats Cheese Crème Brulee with Parmesan Sables & Pear Chutney

Toward: "The brulee has inspired us here at Stoves Dining and is a regular dish on our menus, the sharpness of the parmesan sables and the addition of quince in the chutney give a bittersweet sharpness that cuts the richness of the dish, in small mouthfuls."

Frost: "I would pair this cheese dish with LaMarca Prosecco nv Veneto, Italy - Sparkling wine is a perfect match with so many different dishes; its pear and apple aromas are part of the light and friendly charm to the wine." Busby notes that ‘sweet fruits’, such as the pear used in this dish, are a great addition to savoury dishes as they do not lose their flavour like sour and citric foods do. 

Course Four - Crab & Radish

Maple Cured Salmon with Flaked Native Brown Crab, Radish, Cucumber & Pea

Toward: "With all the dishes we create, we think seasonal, as you get the best flavour and quality, and this dish is no exception to the rule of a classical combination of spring and summer flavours. "From the mildly cured Scottish loch Duart salmon with lemon & Maple to the saltiness of the fresh picked Cornish crab meat, this dish is a real palate cleanser, to refresh the mouth for the following experience."

Frost: "I would go for a St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc 2020 Sonoma  - California’s efforts with Sauvignon Blanc are yielding excellence like never before; there is plenty of rich texture for the crab and enough crispness for the cured salmon."

The Sauvignon wine pairing in this dish has top-note flavours of grapefruit - a fruit Busby recommends trying during an in-flight experience due to the softened acidity.

Course Five - Beef & Horseradish

Grilled Mature English Beef Fillet, Beech Wood Smoked Beetroot, Horseradish  Dumplings, Dry Cured Bacon & Cauliflower Puree

Toward: "This dish has some real strong flavours playing on the plate for your attention from the beech smoked beetroot to the horseradish dumpling and the extra mature beef fillet which has been maturing for 45 days. "Being the centrepiece of your journey it is a standout dish and will impress any guests."

Frost: "For course five I would look for ruby-red wine such as Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone 2019 Rhone Valley – France’s Rhone Valley carries a plethora of grapes to build out its Mediterranean aromas and its savoury palate of red and black fruits."

The horseradish dumplings work well in this dish, alongside the smoked beetroot to give this dish a really flavour explosion that will not go unnoticed whether in-air or on dry land.

Course Six - Rhubarb & Elderflower

Slow Fermented Yoghurt, Pink Blush Rhubarb, Stem Ginger & Elderflower Jelly

Toward: "A small pot of happiness, and some robust summer flavours, pink blush rhubarb, elderflower, and a kick from the pickled stem ginger, go so well with the sourness of the slow fermented organic yoghurt, which has been slightly sweetened with bee pollen." 

Frost: “For this course, as we move towards the sweeter side of the menu, I would recommend Chambers Rosewood Muscat nv Rutherglen, Australia – the Aussies love their “stickies” and the caramel and honey flavours of this Muscat are wildly decadent."

Busby tells us that “sweet and bitter” flavours work well in this altitude, meaning that you really would experience the full flavours of the rhubarb and ginger in this dish. The honey and pollen flavours in both the dish and wine pairing will be sure to elevate the natural sweetness of the dish.

Course Seven - Charcoal & Fig 

Smoked Ashdown Foresters’ Cheese with Charcoal Bread & Pickled Figs

Toward: "Smoked Ashdown foresters is a locally hard smoked cheese with a unique smoked taste which works well with our pickled figs, which have been marinated since last autumn, and picked for there ripeness and honey scented flavour, and of course served with a slow fermented charcoal sourdough bread and salted Cornish butter." 

Frost: "To finish off, I would pair this last dish with a Niepoort Ten-Year-Old Tawny Port, Douro Valley, Portugal – a long sojourn in old barrels gives way to notes of treacle, chocolate and maple that will make for a great ending to any meal."

This dish has everything - from the sweetness of the honey and figs, enhanced by the aged port with its chocolate and maple flavours - to create the perfect finale to your ultimate in-flight dining experience.

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