If you have not already heard the news, we have partnered with Hong Kong-born Cathay Pacific in a revolutionary new culinary undertaking: providing Economy Class passengers on long-haul flights with elevated meal options inspired by our portfolio of restaurants. For a long time, we have been working hard behind-the-scenes, fine-tuning recipes and working in close collaboration with the airline to ensure new, exciting and unexpected dining options at 30,000 feet. We spoke to our culinary team about the challenges they faced, what they learnt and what inspired their creations.
Why did we take this on?
“The chef in me was immediately excited by the opportunity to paint on a broader canvas and catering to Economy customers was appealing to us as we know that there are more foodies at the back of the plane than at the front. In today’s world, we see people travelling for street food, hole-in-the-wall spots and mom-and-pop restaurants that have been around for decades. Those young, adventurous travellers seeking experiences are the kind of people we see in our restaurants every day, they were us not so long ago and we remember how important the inflight meal becomes when you are travelling in Economy.” – Christopher Mark,Co-Founder, Black Sheep Restaurants
What was the most exciting thing about this partnership?
“Being able to tell our stories to a much wider audience, further than the four walls of our restaurants. Food connects us and after passengers disembark, we hope that they will take us with them on their journeys.” – Palash Mitra, Culinary Director for South Asian Cuisine
What did you learn during this process of creating airline food?
“We needed to make sure we were creating food that can be executed in high volumes, plated consistently and carrying the salinity and acidity required for consumption at 30,000 feet. In Economy Class, Cathay Pacific produce 3,500 in-flight meals daily. That kind of volume and scale, at a consistent level, is something we have never done so we worked very closely with the Cathay Pacific catering services team to master it.” – Braden Reardon, Executive Chef, Carbone
Are there specific ingredients that perform best for aeroplanes?
“The science says that your taste buds can be dulled in the air so we focused on dishes that were full of really robust flavours – spices, rubs, dressings. Aside from ingredients, seasoning is probably the most important. Slow-cooked, braised meats and stews work really well. Chillies, citrus and using a lot of bold herbs and spices throughout the cooking process makes a world of difference in the air. One of our dishes takes inspiration from our newly opened Tuscan trattoria, Associazione Chianti: Braised beef in red wine with green beans and lemon gremolata. This is a prime example of comfort food with a nuanced twist, something familiar but with the potential to broaden your culinary horizons a little bit.” – Christopher Mark, Co-Founder, Black Sheep Restaurants
Are there any specific ingredients that are a no-go for aeroplanes?
“Steer clear of microgreens and seedlings, perishable greens, nut products for allergy concerns and salted, smoked meats.” – Palash Mitra, Culinary Director for South Asian Cuisine
What is next for Black Sheep Restaurants and Cathay Pacific?
“In February 2020, Black Sheep Restaurants menus will be expanding to regional routes, overseen by Chef Palash Mitra. As these routes are directed to South Asian countries, expect a selection of dishes designed to reflect the diverse flavours found in those destinations including comforting, flavourful karis inspired by our Sri Lankan canteen, Hotal Colombo.” – Christopher Mark, Co-Founder, Black Sheep Restaurants
Black Sheep Restaurants menus are now available on long-haul flights out of Hong Kong, with regional flights to be added in February 2020. For more on the news, check out our announcement video!