- American Airlines recently announced a new partnership with the James Beard Foundation, which will bring meals designed by James Beard-affiliate chefs to first and business class lounges and flights.
- It’s part of a marketing push by American, which enjoys significantly higher profit margins on premium seats than on coach, especially with business travelers.
- We recently had a chance to try some of the dishes designed by the first chef: Sarah Grueneberg of Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio in Chicago. Here are some of the new dishes that you can expect if you get to fly in the airline’s Flagship first or business class.
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The new dishes are joining the existing options on American’s Flagship menus — the menu in its Flagship Lounges, for international first and business class customers, its Flagship First Dining room, and on board the flights.
The Flagship Lounge is already a premier stop for American Airlines premium passengers and Oneworld elites.
With a fresh buffet…
… And plenty of seats, it’s a great place to enjoy a bite to eat, a drink, or just a comfy seat with decent Wi-Fi. Everything here is complimentary.
Although top-tier elites can access the Flagship Lounge, the Flagship First Dining room is even more exclusive. Only passengers traveling in first class in a three-cabin international or trans-continental flight are invited in.
Most of the new dishes will be in the Flagship Dining room, or on board in first and business class. A few will be in the Flagship Lounge, too.
I tasted a few samples of what Chef Grueneberg is bringing to the Flagship Dining and on-board menus.
The artichoke ravioli was served with a blistered cherry tomato sauce and “pesto” made with green olives and pistachio. Chef Grueneberg said that this type of pasta dish was easy to heat in a plane oven.
Next we tried the spinach and ricotta rotolo rolled pasta with pomodoro, traditional basil pesto, and pine nuts. Grueneberg described enjoying the conflicting taste from having two different sauces, which both cut through the ricotta. It was fantastic.
Next came the Tuscan kale salad, with beets, apples, goat cheese, spiced sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds, and a tahini-inspired dressing. This particular dish will also be made available in the Flagship Lounge.
Then I tried grilled artichokes with black truffle, in a fontina fonduta sauce. A dish that somehow manages to be both light and hearty.
Next, we tried the mushroom bolognese, a delicious spin on a traditional bolognese sauce.
Finally, there was the dark chocolate budino, an absurdly delicious chocolate pudding with mandarin olive oil, candied citrus, a chocolate crunch, and fresh whipped cream.
Grueneberg described her approach to the dishes as channeling “the classic Italian approach to cooking by focusing on simplicity, great flavors and quality ingredients that we believe will resonate deeply with guests.”
As you may have noticed, most of Chef Gruenberg’s creations are vegetarian. The dishes will appear on menus alongside the regular on-board and in-lounge offerings, like chicken fricassee …
… steak …
… A shrimp and sausage dish …
… And more.
Chef Grueneberg’s dishes are already available in the Flagship First Dining room sand Flagship First Lounges, and will be featured on board in Flagship first and business class starting on December 11.
Menus in the lounge will change quarterly, while on-board menus are changed up every month. American says it will continue working with its internal chefs, Grueneberg, and the James Beard Foundation on the dishes.