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Cathay Pacific collaborates with celebrity chef Daniel Green

22 Jul 2016 by Clement Huang
Cathay Pacific first class dining

Cathay Pacific has partnered with celebrity chef Daniel Green to develop a new first and business class in-flight menu that promotes healthy eating through “high-quality, low-carbohydrate” cuisine.

Speaking to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific, the airline’s head of catering Aaron Claxton revealed that rollout of the new menu will be launched on August 1 on flights to Chicago and New York-JFK. This will progressively be introduced onto other North American routes.

While Cathay Pacific has partnered with restaurants and hotels in the past, this is the first time the airline has collaborated with a celebrity chef.

Green has been working closely with Cathay Pacific Catering Services (CPCS) over the past five months to ensure the dishes he has created will be accurately represented in the air.

“The great thing about Cathay Pacific is that they are able to import some of the best ingredients from all over the world,” said Green. “This meant that I was not restricted by what could or could not be included in a dish, which gave me a certain level of freedom”.

In particular, the chef noted that the airline supported his aim to create healthy dishes. For example, in order to reduce the amount of saturated fats in his food, Green eliminated the use of full cream milk in his Thai curry dish, replacing it with a light coconut milk instead.

Deep-frying is one cooking method that does not feature on any of the dishes, with the chef saying that “along with the fact that deep-fried food are high in saturated fat, such dishes do not necessarily taste good in the air when they have to be re-warmed again for 20 minutes.”

Cathay Pacific Daniel Green Aaron Claxton

Cathay Pacific head of catering Aaron Claxton and celebrity chef Daniel Green

Claxton also revealed that CX plans to introduce a new pre-ordering meal service in late 2017, which he likened to Singapore Airlines’ “Book-the-cook” service. Unlike its regional competitor’s offering though, Cathay’s will be available to travellers in all cabins, including economy class.

“CPCS has just completed a significant expansion of its premises, which has boosted its maximum production capacity to 15,000 meals per day,” said Claxton. “Moving forward, the increased production capacity will allow us to deliver more to our customers, including a pre-order meal service.”

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific attended a tasting session hosted by Cathay Pacific to sample the new Daniel Green dishes. These were our thoughts:

Seared ahi, edamame, butter lettuce and sesame soy ginger vinaigrette

Appetisers

Marinated crab and mango, mesclun salad and Dijon mustard vinaigrette  

The hero of this dish was the crab, which was fresh and tasty. Mango was a good pairing for the crab, and its sweetness helped to balance the kick from the Dijon mustard.

Smoked chicken, mesclun salad, sun-dried tomatoes and chilli shallot vinaigrette

A simple dish that lacks flair. While the protein was flavourful, thanks to it being smoked, the mesclun salad was bland. I did like the umami-rich sun-dried tomatoes though, which complemented the tartness of the vinaigrette.

Seared ahi, edamame, butter lettuce and sesame soy ginger vinaigrette

Easily my favourite appetiser. The ahi tuna was beautifully seasoned on the outside with a herb crust, before being lightly seared. The result was a sashimi-like tuna that boasted a beautiful pink colour and went well with the ginger vinaigrette.

Small roasted pumpkin, Thai red vegetable curry in light coconut milk and Thai sweet basil

Main courses

Fettuccine, shiitake mushroom, white wine, garlic, chargrilled fennel and white truffle oil

The best thing about this dish was that I could taste each individual ingredient. While truffle oil can be overpowering sometimes, this was not the case as the taste of the fungi shone through. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and the fennel gently perfumed the dish.

Pappardelle, no cheese pesto, sun blushed tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and fresh basil

While the traditional pesto recipe features parmesan in order to provide saltiness to the generally bland mixture of basil, olive oil and pine nuts, Green’s take on this classic does not feature any cheese at all. Instead, the natural acidity from the tomatoes was used to flavour the pesto mix, which meant that there was no sacrifice on taste.

Grilled eggplant, low fat feta cheese, sun-dried tomato with basil and herb oil  

A forgettable dish for me personally. I was looking for that “grilled” taste to the eggplant, but this was unfortunately masked by the copious amount of sun-dried tomato. I did like the use of low fat feta cheese though, with each cube delivering a burst of flavour.

Small roasted pumpkin, Thai red vegetable curry in light coconut milk and Thai sweet basil

The spiciness of the red curry evoked memories of Thailand, while the use of coconut milk added a lightness to the dish. The roasted pumpkin is a good substitute for staples such as rice or pasta, and its natural sweetness also enhanced the dish overall.

Gnocchi, fresh basil and sun-dried tomato sauce

While I enjoyed the choice of gnocchi as an interesting substitute for pasta, the fresh basil and sun-dried tomato sauce was too similar to the grilled eggplant dish that I had tasted earlier.

For more information, visit cathaypacific.com

Clement Huang

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