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Kitchen-to-cabin is the new farm-to-table, as culinary greats from The Trotter Project team up with chefs from United Airlines to develop new menu items for passengers in all cabin classes.
The Trotter Project is a nonprofit organization formed by family and friends of the late, great Charlie Trotter, the chef famous for revitalizing Chicago’s culinary scene with his celebrated eponymous restaurant, and turning the culinary world on its head with innovative moves. The foundation’s mission is to “to unite those interested in the culinary arts, along with the hospitality and service industries, through a variety of events and programs designed to educate and inspire.” Trotter himself once worked with United to create meals for premium service.
United has been upgrading the quality of its passenger dining experiences in recent months, beginning with its shift to enhanced meals and snacks for premium cabin travelers in January. By teaming up with The Trotter Project, United aims to further improve in-flight dining by serving fresh ingredients that are sourced locally to the flight’s point of departure, and reflect the local cuisine.
To that end, the Trotter Project alumni chefs who participated in the partnership’s March recipe development workshop came from all over the country and Mexico. They included:
- Richie Farina, former executive chef at Chicago’s Michelin-starred Moto Restaurant and contestant on reality show “Top Chef”;
- Della Gossett of Spago Beverly Hills;
- David LeFevre of Manhattan Beach Post and Fishing with Dynamite restaurants, in Manhattan Beach, California;
- Mitchell Nordby, sous chef at Parallel 37 at The Ritz Carlton, San Francisco;
- Christian Ramos of Virginia’s, a new restaurant in New York City’s East Village neighborhood, and formerly of New York’s Per Se;
- Priscila Satkoff of Chicago’s Salpicon restaurant and a Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame inductee;
- Michael Taus, vice president of The Trotter Project and owner of Chicago restaurant Taus Authentic;
- Guillermo Tellez-Cruz, Charlie Trotter’s chef de cuisine and executive chef at Flora’s Field Kitchen in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Trotter-developed menu items will be available in all cabins, and chefs will convene regularly to keep the dishes fresh and interesting. The timeline for the menu is not yet clear, but economy passengers will not be left out of the general dining upgrade. In a press release, the airline says that beginning June 1, customers in United Economy will be offered “significantly upgraded food and beverage service—including multi-course meals, complimentary beer and wine and a new option to purchase premium snacks…on many long-haul international flights.”
While in-flight meals aren’t usually my first choice for dining, working on this story has made me hungry. Wherever Charlie Trotter is now, I hope he’s nodding in approval at this planned improvement to passenger experience on United.
In other news, United has relaunched the United MileagePlus Explorer Card with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening, with a waived annual fee the first year, plus two one-time passes for the United Club each year. You can view the full details on this card in this post.
What do you look for in an in-flight meal or snack? Is this enough to keep you flying United?
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