Qualified chefs are now onboard Etihad Airways flights to London, Sydney, Melbourne and Paris and will be progressively introduced across all other first class destinations by early 2012.
The airline has hired nearly 110 chefs since announcing in May it would introduce fully-qualified and classically-trained international chefs dedicated to food service excellence in its Diamond First Class cabins.
First class chefs will also contribute to menu development for both lounges and flights.
Etihad Airways’ chefs are provided with a pantry stocked with prime cuts of meat, sauces, par-cooked items, spices and freshly chopped vegetables.
The pantry allows them to prepare for service and personalise dishes in the same way as chefs in a restaurant kitchen. Tools not typically seen on an aircraft, such as a whisk and foamer are also at their disposal.
The launch is marked by a complete redesign of the first class menu, now called The Mezoon Grille.
An entirely new Mezoon Grille menu will offer first class guests an unparalleled variety of choice in in-flight dining.
Guests may select from a menu of four-six proteins (large, 160-gram portions of beef, chicken, lamb and seafood), four sauces and four side options, all prepared to order.
Guests are guaranteed their first choice of protein and Etihad Airways’ chefs can also create custom sides and sauces to suit individual tastes.
On applicable day flights, Etihad Airways will also be replacing its previous Degustation Menu with a “Taste of Arabia” menu, which is similarly formatted with a menu of 6 tasting servings, though all will now have a distinctive Arabic flavour.
The A La Carte menu will maintain a similar formatting, featuring appetisers, mains and desserts, although the dishes can now be adapted with the help of the chef.
Lee Shave, Etihad Airways’ vice president guest experience, said: “By introducing first class chefs and refocusing our unique food and beverage managers in business class, Etihad Airways has created the most robust in-flight culinary team in the skies.
“We have consistently elevated our in-flight dining experience by putting culinary experts in airline roles as opposed to airline experts in culinary roles.
“In this way, our innovative team is challenging industry standards and finding new ways to bring a fine dining restaurant experience to our guests, both on ground and in air.”
First Class Chefs are fully qualified professionals, trained under reputable culinary institutions and/or apprenticeships.
Etihad Airways requires a minimum of six years of professional experience in five-star restaurants and hotels, though the majority of the chefs have at least ten years experience.
Several come from Michelin-starred restaurants.
Remaining first class destinations to launch include Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Narita, Seoul, Brussels, Milan, Munich, Casablanca and New York.
Eithad Airways is considered the World’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards.