Top 10: Healthy In-Flight Catering Trends in 2015

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2015 is coming to an end shortly and this year in business aviation catering has seen many changes to what our passengers are requesting. We all know that our passengers are going to order anything that their hearts desire. As a flight crew, our job is to get those items by ordering catering, shopping, or from a restaurant. This year we have seen some new trends in what our passengers’ expectations are for us.

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Catering trends this year were towards eathing healthier, from an emphasis on lean proteins to organic items.

  1. Gluten-Free. Even though only about 1% of the population has celiac disease, gluten-free meals have had a 30% increase over previous years in what passengers are ordering. The combination of improved quality and variety of gluten-free products with better-trained chefs on gluten-free ingredients has taken these meals to new heights and flavors.
  2. Ancient Grains. From khorasan, faro, and quinoa to chia these ancient grains are popping up on more menus, on more local supermarket shelves, and are being incorporated into more products throughout the world. The ancient grains offer great health benefits lacking in durum wheat, as well as keeping on-trend with gluten-free alternatives for our passengers.
  3. Charcuterie. This is not new, but this year we have seen charcuterie grow throughout the United States, and it is going way beyond the standard meat-and-cheese plate. Today’s caterers and restaurants are putting duck prosciutto, beef heart pastrami, house-made salami and other exotic cured meats on their charcuterie menus.
  4. From the Orient. More and more dishes being ordered have an Asian twist on them. More Asian flavor noodle bowls and rice bowls are becoming more popular in the air. These heart-warming dishes give our passengers more flavors at altitude while relaxing them on their flight.
  5. Non-Alcoholic Beverages. Yes, no alcohol! These drinks are the trend for our passengers who enjoy amazing flavors as they eat healthier. These artful drinks are made of exotic fruit and blends that can satisfy your passengers’ thirst.
  6. Vegetarian Main Course. Alright meat lovers, don’t knock it until you try it! Continuing the health-conscious theme, caterers and restaurants know there has been a surge of people turning to vegetarian dining options, and they are getting bored with the regular seared and sautéed items that are on most menus. Chefs have been busy experimenting with vegetables as the main dish, like corn spaghetti in black truffle sauce or lasagna with tapioca cheese and roasted eggplant. Before ordering a steak next time, try the vegetarian entrée; you will likely be surprised and completely full!
  7. Chicken. Yes, we have all had it, from chicken masala to chicken parmesan. But today’s chefs are offering passengers better choices than the mainstream dishes. Our passengers are now more health-conscious and crave new, bright flavors like sous vide chicken.
  8. Tasting desserts. Say goodbye to the big slice of chocolate cake. This year we have seen more refined, smaller desserts that we call “tasters.” This experience gives passengers a unique blend of healthier, more robust flavors of desserts.
  9. Beets. From their leaves to their roots, these plants are taking aviation by storm. Beets are great for our passengers with the abundant vitamins and minerals they contain. Beets make amazing salads, sauces and side components to main dishes.
  10. Fish. Grilled, broiled and pan-seared have all been popular this year in aviation catering. Fish gives our passengers a great healthy choice with flavors from Asian to Mediterranean dishes. Most fish is forgiving when it comes to reheating, and passengers now are looking for alternatives to red meat.

Next time your passengers are looking for some catering ideas for their flight, ask your local caterer about new trends in your location of departure. This will allow you to offer your passengers something unique, tasty and on-trend. Your reputation as a corporate Flight Attendant and your passenger experience will certainly benefit as a result.

John Detloff is Vice President of Flight Attendant Services at Air Culinaire Worldwide. John is a corporate flight attendant, executive chef and EMT with over 13 years in the business aviation industry.