World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo: Food on the Move Brings Fine-Dining Restaurant Experience to Passengers

03 Jan 2012

Passenger expectations are pushing travel catering to new heights and the latest innovations and creative thinking will be on display during World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo in Hamburg, Germany from 27-29 March 2012. Leading industry players including LSG Sky Chefs, Gate Gourmet and Servair are exhibiting along with more than 150 other catering and onboard service specialists.

Cruise dining has led the way in bringing famous chefs to enhance cruise passengers’ dining experience in the last few years but now train operators, such as Eurostar, have been upping their game by bringing in Michelin-starred expertise. Eurostar’s Business Premier class now boasts menus developed in conjunction with Alain Roux, chef patron at the three Michelin-starred Waterside Inn in England. The gourmet menus include fine ingredients sourced locally from the UK, France and Belgium.

Also picking up on the trend for locally sourced products, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines recently announced it has linked up with Michelin-starred Flemish chef Peter Goossens to develop three menus for business class passengers. Until September this year the menus, inspired by typical Flemish products but with an international twist, will be available on intercontinental flights from Amsterdam. Accompanying wines have also been selected by Goossens’s Hof van Cleve restaurant sommelier.

Meanwhile Etihad has invested significantly in its first class food offering over the last few months. It has hired more than 100 first class, classically trained international chefs to offer a dedicated food service in the airline’s Diamond First Class cabins. The chefs will also help to development menus used in Etihad’s airport lounges and across other flights. Chefs have an array of prime cuts of meat, sauces, par-cooked items, spices and freshly chopped vegetables at their disposal to allow them to prepare personalised dishes for first class passengers. The first class menu has also been redesigned and is now called The Mezoon Grille.

But will the upper end dining experience prove resilient in the face of the current financial challenges around the world? “Despite the many crises we have witnessed in the industry, the appeal of the upper-end dining experience has not waned. While the demand for it may weaken at times, fine dining remains an important differentiator for airlines and a great incentive to attract passengers,” said Josefine Corsten, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications & Marketing at LSG Sky Chefs.

Servair takes a similar view. The company’s Chairman and CEO, Patrick Alexandre, said: “We believe that the quality of food is one of the key added values for an airline in establishing its differentiation from its competitors. Quality food does not necessarily have to be synonymous with expensive. It is also produced through the imagination and creativity of the chefs who know how to offer just the right food to the passengers.”

Back in the cruise world, are operators looking to attract passengers by offering the ability to pre-book dining packages before a voyage so that customers can plan more effectively at a time when purse strings are stretched? Royal Caribbean International has recently announced a number of dining packages for passengers across a variety of the restaurants onboard its ocean liners. With a range of prices on offer these allow customer to save money on booking packages, compared to the sum of individual restaurant cover charges.

John Hyde, the event’s Exhibition Director, said: “The industry is continuing to aspire to provide more passengers with a top level restaurant experience during their flight, cruise or train journey. It’s a testament to the dedication and ingenuity of both operators and suppliers that they manage to do this within the confines of everything from airline galleys to the logistics challenges posed by ensuring that the food served is as fresh as possible.”

World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo is co-located with Aircraft Interiors Expo, the global exhibition that attracts senior buyers from over 200 of the world’s airlines. The event is now 95% sold with just under three months to go.

For any further information please contact:
Carol Seath at CMS Strategic
Tel: +44 (0)20 8748 9797

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