Etihad Airways has partnered with Taste Festivals Ltd, organisers of world leading restaurant events to give customers unique culinary experiences in the air and on the ground.

As part of a multi-year agreement with Taste Festivals, the airline headquartered in Abu Dhabi will coordinate special foodie events with its Etihad Airways Partners, with 15 Taste festivals scheduled in 2016.

The first such festival was launched on 10 March with Taste of Dubai, Taste of Hong Kong and Taste of Sydney.

Other sponsored festivals are scheduled across five continents at Etihad Airways destinations like Amsterdam, Johannesburg, London, Milan, Melbourne, Moscow, Paris, Perth, Rome and Toronto, and Abu Dhabi.

As part of Etihad Airways’ global partnership with Taste, the airline is creating a ‘Taste the World’ initiative to honor and celebrate rising culinary talents from each of the 13 Taste festivals outside the UAE. These winners will earn a trip to Taste of Abu Dhabi from 3 – 5 November, where they will display their skills and compete against the airline’s celebrated Inflight Chefs.

“Aligning with Taste Festivals is a natural progression for a global airline whose mission is to provide remarkable service and hospitality to millions of guests,” Shane O’Hare, Etihad Airways’ Senior Vice President Marketing.

“We deliver this promise through a highly-acclaimed culinary offering and a food philosophy that constantly pushes the boundaries to provide superior guest experience.

“Taste provides us with a platform to highlight our dining innovation across all cabins and in our spectacular lounges. We draw inspiration from the best restaurants and emerging chefs from culinary capitals worldwide, and serve it with the style and sophistication that has become synonymous with the Etihad Airways brand.”

Justin Clarke, Director – Taste Festivals, said of the new partnership:

“We are delighted to be in partnership with Etihad Airways. Their commitment to being the world’s leading culinary airline is both exciting and a testament to the logical brand fit between Etihad Airways and Taste Festivals. We look forward to working with Etihad to communicate their current service and to inspire future innovation.”

Gourmet In-Flight Focus

Airlines are learning that meals matter in brand differentiation, and the advantages of ensuring that international travelers enjoy the local experience of a destination from the moment they board the aircraft.

For many travelers a menu of well-prepared local dishes is a basic requirement of the premium in-flight experience. The growing popularity of food tourism makes a focus on the in-flight meal experience even more important for airlines today.

It’s no surprise, then, that many airlines are tripping over themselves introduce menus, created by top chefs, which reflect their brand character through flavours, aromas and presentation.

Etihad Airways made gourmet dining a core focus of the onboard experience in its First Class cabins with the introduction of Inflight Chefs, many of whom have come from leading fine dining restaurants.

They apply their culinary expertise to cook-up personalised à la carte dining options onboard, tailored to suit the taste of each guest.

Chefs also fly with a fully-equipped pantry of fresh ingredients to prepare made-to-order meals.

Food and Beverage Managers in Etihad’s Business Class oversee the preparation and service of a modern, healthy à la carte menu and make vintage recommendations to complement the meal.

Etihad Airways currently employs 235 Inflight Chefs and 495 Food and Beverage Managers, responsible for the planning and preparation of its First Class and Business Class in-flight dining service.

Last we heard, they’d like to hire more. So if you’ve got mad skills in the kitchen and want to take a shot at food preparation in the skies…

Challenges of In-Flight Dining

The fact is that meal preparation for air travel is an extremely tricky science. There are not only the logistical challenges of preparing meals for tens of thousands of travellers a day, but there’s also the impact of flight conditions on the palate to consider–and airlines do. Great effort is put in place to find more ways to make food more savory, fresher, and all together better.


You can read more about the process of airline meal preparation in my special article for Skift reporting from the state of the art catering Centre SATS in Singapore.

The upcoming WTCE in Hamburg will feature new in-flight dining trends, including guest chefs preparing meals on site.

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