Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Air France food truck completes New York run

This group of chefs from Flying Food Group and Servair completed their duties over the previous weekend, treating New Yorkers to First Class fare from Air France, while raising money for hunger relief. Pausing here for a picture (left to right) are: Jacques Lalzace, Paulo Ferreira, Eric Augustine, Henri Alcade and Michel Quissac. Photo copyright Andrew Federman Photography.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hamburg on the horizon

In a few days time I’ll be saying goodbye to my office and desk and Miami Dolphins coffee mug (yes we’re in Toronto and no, I’m not sure where the mug came from) to go to Pearson International and begin my 10+ hour journey to Hamburg for the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX).
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t quite excited about this year’s event and the many new developments that I’ll have the opportunity to report on when I return. My first visit to the gargantuan three day expo saw me getting lost, on several occasions - daily. This year however, will be my third time visiting and I feel as though I’m becoming a bit of a pro when it comes to navigating the four massive halls (separated by tarmac and blue sky) that make up the show.
Luckily for visitors like myself, companies tend to find a good booth and stick to it. This makes it easy to learn the show over the course of several visits and lets you book appointments in such a manner that doesn’t have you literally running football fields to make to your next meeting on time. In fact, many at AIX are so dedicated to re-booking their coveted spots that when the loudspeaker announcement is made to signal that the next year’s registration is open, exhibitors will send their fastest employees in a sprint to the booking desk to ensure that their spots are not usurped by new exhibitors trying to capitalize on their hard-won positioning.
It’s fun to be a member of the press at this show. We are actually given a small office, where in the morning one can find a contingent of bleary-eyed reporters from across the world taking advantage of complimentary coffee, biscuits and even computer access. We all truly appreciate the gesture, although those of us not accustomed to German keyboards can typically be heard muttering under our breaths as we try desperately find hyphens, question marks and commas. In past years there has been a wall of shelves in this office holding printed daily press releases from all exhibitors hoping to draw media attention to product launches, partnerships or milestone celebrations.
This year Aircraft Interiors Expo has reduced its paper trail by doing away with the press-pack wall and instead opted to provide journalists with exhibitor announcements on a USB: a development I applaud for its environmental gesture, but dislike it because of the fact that it is likely to congest the press office as dozens of journalists vie for the aforementioned computers to get a peek at the contents of the stick.
Over the last three years Aircraft Interiors and its hundreds of exhibitors have taught me things I never thought I’d know about inflight entertainment, connectivity, galleys, galley inserts, cabin cleaning, maintenance, seating and textiles. It’s been a pleasure for me to watch the industry evolve as it has in recent times and to see more and more familiar faces at Aircraft Interiors each year.
If you are planning to attend, I look forward to seeing you there. If not, stay tuned to PAX’s enewsletter and blog for all the latest post-show coverage!

Maryann Simson, Associate Editor

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Air France food truck in New York

Anyone in New York this weekend and Monday has the chance to run down the Air France food truck for complimentary samples of their First Class cuisine.

The food truck is making four stops between Friday and Monday. Friday, it's Rockefeller Center between 41st and 42nd Streets; Saturday, Union Square at Park Avenue and 15th Steet; Sunday in SoHo at Prince Street and Broadway; and Monday on Wall Street between William and Hanover Streets.

Menu on the Air France Food Truck 
Chefs from Flying Food Servair will be handing out the free samples of the fare, some of it the recipes of Air France's first class chef Joël Robuchon. Nicolas Rondeau at Flying Food in New York informs us that the chefs expect to serve 600 samples of breakfasts, lunches and dinners each day during the promotion.

There's also a sweepstakes for two Air France tickets to Paris, and the opportunity to donate to City Harvest, a rescue organization dedicated to feeding the city's hungry men, women and children. 

"Air France is thrilled to be the first airline to offer a unique experience and to be part of the current global trend of food trucks," said a release from the airline.

You can follow the exploits of the food truck on Air France's Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tips from the Chef

Servair's Corporate Chef Michel Quissac seems to love to share tips and experiences. He has a few suggestions on blending spices for tasty marinades and antipasti on the caterer's website.

In addition to holding to French tradition Chef Michel is also happy with the advancement of cooking techniques and technology that he relayed to PAX International in our last issue when asked some of the more notable developments in inflight cooking. 

"Servair is developing a technique of cooking vacuum-packed foods. This technique does not damage the food in any way and preserves all its organoleptic and nutritional qualities, while ensuring a very high degree of food safety. On the ground, we are developing equipment devoted to vacuum-packed cooking for small production series, providing training in this technique, and developing menus and recipes adapted to this technology.

"It allows us to make last minute adjustments to the service according to the number of passengers. It also allows us to propose a pre-ordering service (via the internet) to airline passengers.

"Onboard, it allows the generalization of refrigerated compartments (ventilated refrigeration) avoiding the need to use dry ice and ensuring better control of temperatures at the moment of serving.

"The generalization of steam and induction ovens ensures that the meals are more appetizing after being reheated."

Friday, March 11, 2011

British Airways and The Chef

For those British viewers of Channel 4 who missed Heston Blumenthal's miniseries Mission Impossible where he attempted to cook raw salmon for 30 business class passengers on a British Airways flight between London and Dubai, you can find a rundown of the trip here.

My one opportunity to meet Hizzonor Heston was foiled in 2008, when I was forced to replace a trip to London and his restaurant The Fat Duck with a trip to the windowless basement of the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis as I worked out my reward for being a registered voter: two weeks on jury duty. While I was never picked to sit in on a trial, I later learned the verdict on the meal at The Fat Duck from those who had no such civic responsibilities: It was amazing.

By visiting the website you can also learn why British Airways is not to blame for bedbugs and listen to Cyndi Lauper sing to passengers in Buenos Aires Airport. An interesting site with some quirky airline stories.


Next week, PAX International's Maryann Simson will be traveling to Miami for the announcement of the winners of the Bacardi Cruise Competition.  Maryann was one of the guest judges this year. Bacardi will be extending Chef of the Year and Bartender of the Year honors to two lucky recipients. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Remembering the south of France

If anyone is looking back on this year's ITCA conference -- held in a beautiful city that was unfortunately marred with rain this year -- perhaps they could consider a side trip next time they return to Nice, which promises them a visit to "the king of the truffle," Chez Bruno in Lorgues. If you're feeling adventurous you can get there with the help of Heli-Air Monaco

When the first ITCA conference was held in Nice, Servair graciously hosted a similar luncheon in the hills of Grasse, France where guests were treated to a helicopter trip along the fabulous Cote D'Azur. It was a memorable event. I think back often to that and other experiences in the area that always make me happy to return there.