Emirates is investing to become the airline of choice for international flyers who want to eat well in the air. So far it seems to be working. Chef Jamie Bissonnette, the man behind Boston's Toro and Coppa, told us his best in-flight meal ever was on Emirates. "Labneh bil na'na, fool, hummus, murgh do pyaaza (chicken curry), and breakfast," he said. "It was all so tasty." That was leagues beyond his worst-ever in-flight meal, on Philippine Airlines. "Meat of no specific origin with mushy, flavorless rice," he said. "I'm not sure what was in the food, but can be sure it was animal flesh, overcooked rice, and too much salt. Inedible!"
“There is a lot more culinary awareness amongst our customers, and a lot less tolerance for what was commonly known as 'airline food,'" said Joost Heymeijer, Emirates' senior vice president of catering. "People [now] expect restaurant-quality food, even on an aircraft."
The food on Emirates varies regionally. For example, meals to and from Japan are served with authentic Japanese crockery, cutlery, and a tea set. Flights to Italy serve pasta dishes like gnocchi and ravioli. The idea is that your trip begins as soon as you board the plane -- not the second you step off.
And while sitting in economy isn't going to get you a first class-style complimentary pour of Dom Perignon, Heymeijer told me that Emirates' economy-class menus are designed and prepared with the same attention given to the more expensive seats. You'll receive dishes that sound suited for high-roller passengers -- like braised beef with horseradish served with mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, and carrots, or chicken with creamy mushroom sauce, gnocchi, and green beans. Between meals, passengers get slices of pizza, ice cream, chocolates, and fruit. It's basically a party in the sky, with your own individual on-demand TV screen.