Thursday, October 21, 2010

Organic Airlines

I seem to be on an airlines kick this week.  As previously stated I am an airplane nerd and fairly obsessed with flying, elite status, where on the plane I sit and trying to figure out how I might get an upgrade (the answer to that in the last couple of years is: forget about it!).

So, as you would expect of an obsessed person, years ago, I signed up for Continentals E news bulletins  (now in the process of becoming United; I like that they kept Continental's livery so the planes and everything look like Continental but they are changing the name to United, an airline that I have always thought very poorly of, but maybe now that the new merged airline is going to be run by Jeff Smisek the CEO of Continental it will be better... but I digress).  Yesterday I got this announcement in my in box:

(The stuff in brackets and in italics are my smart-ass editorial comments)

United Airlines Introduces New Menu Options Developed by Master Chef Curtis Stone

CHICAGO, Oct 20, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) --

United Airlines tomorrow is introducing an inspiring new menu experience created by the airline's newest celebrity chef, internationally acclaimed Master Chef Curtis Stone (if he is the Master does that mean he has a slave? Sorry it's San Francisco I had to ask) . Customers flying in United Business(R) from San Francisco International Airport to Tokyo Narita International Airport may select an available menu option featuring healthy, high-quality organic ingredients, developed specifically for United by Curtis Stone (Wow Organic ingredients, I think this is truly revolutionary for an airline, and it is no accident that it is starting in SF, I wonder how long it will take for them to offer this service out of NY?).

The menu option includes a salad and appetizer combination and entrée. The meal begins with a salad combination of fresh grilled and marinated free-range chicken (I'm still uneasy with the term free range, I'd prefer farm raised organic...but hey it's still beats tortured in a factory raised....), sliced paper-thin (is the chicken paper thin or the veg?) and topped with a crisp slaw mixture and fresh ginger sesame vinaigrette. The entrée features Niman Ranch (Niman Ranch... very nice and as you will see it's even locally raised) braised beef short ribs with beef stock reduction accompanying honey-roasted heirloom carrots and celeriac purée. Niman Ranch cattle are raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and largely grass fed (double wow, most Cows that become beef never see daylight, never mind a pasture and grass! This is really great!).

"We are delighted to partner with Master Chef Curtis Stone to provide our customers with another exceptional in-flight dining option," said Stuart Benzal, managing director, onboard global product. "Customers want great tasting, healthy food made from top quality ingredients, and Curtis' simple yet elegant dishes will help bring our customers more of what they want."

"As a frequent traveler, I understand the importance of in-flight meals to the overall travel experience," said Curtis Stone. "These menu options reflect my desire to create meals that taste great and also leave travelers feeling refreshed and rejuvenated."

Curtis Stone will collaborate with United's Corporate Executive Chef Gerry Gulli on delivering the highest quality menu options and United will be the only airline to offer these entrées. For more information on Curtis Stone, please visit

I think this is amazing.  Now maybe I'm just out of the loop, but as far as I know no other legacy carrier in the US is using organic local ingredients in their meals.  Delta used to have a few organic items for sale on their low cost carrier years ago, but that was so long I don't even remember the name of it.

Given the market trend I would think and hope that this will become the trend for front of the plane meals.  Good for United/Continental for leading the way.  Makes me proud to be a frequent flier

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