Jamie Gibson, Planet 9 Cabin Service Representative, is breaking down the history of food trends and sharing her tips and tricks for taking inflight meals to the next level.
Did you know that we get the name “Hollandaise” from World War II era when France had to import butter from Holland? We can thank the French for our beloved Five Mother Sauces but Holland surely pulled thru in supplying enough butter to inspire Julia Child to hopelessly fall in love with French cooking.
Hollandaise is essentially a butter sauce, clarified butter slowly whisked into egg yolks over a double boiler, and we love to enjoy it over Asparagus, Eggs Benedict, and for me personally, smothered on absolutely anything. But we’ll dig, or rather pour, into the sauces further down in this post.
Food is constantly influenced by the world we live in, it affects the trends, the fusion, the ingredients. We’re lucky to be living in a time where we have the access to heavenly Whole Foods, and other worldly and out of season ingredients . Our culture is undoubtedly continues to influence the world of food. From the inception of a menu, to the procurement of ingredients ( trust me, Farm to Table was not a buzz phrase in the 90’s), to the way that very same food is presented and plated to the consumer are all direct nuances of influence from current cultural trends.
So what are these new trends? We’re not in the 1950’s where sheer lack of accessibility is the singular contending factor of determining trends.
I’ll tell you one thing, if Applebees is offering “Dessert Shooters”, you better believe they are in tune with one of the most recent business-to-consumer food trends.
Big Desserts? They’re out.
The underlying message of the average restaurant go-er is, “ Listen, we want something sweet, we’re not disciplined enough to swear off a dessert menu entirely, but we want something that wont make us feel too guilty”
So how does this tie into what we do on a private jet, or rather how and what we serve?
Unless your guest’s profile explicitly states “GIVE ME A BIG SLICE OF CHOCOLATE CAKE!” (Ms Trunchball vibes from Matilda).
Consider how you can create a perfect portion of sweetness to toast the meal or rather, more poetically “kiss” the end of their meal to ensure we avoid a look similar to the poor gentlemen featured above.
I recognize there is nothing inherently wrong with slices of cake, but the old adage remains true “too much of a good thing, is still in fact, too much”
So how can we reintroduce these beloved desserts in a less-guilty, European inspired way?
1) Biscuit cutters, and 2) Shot glasses. Using your biscuit cutters, stamp out smaller, miniature round cakes from the original cake or allocated portion
3) Don’t be afraid to disassemble your cake entirely! Get messy with it! Stuff it into a transparent small glass or shot glass. Technically, this is a dessert shooter, but we are too sophisticated to call it that. Let’s pivot, rebrand, and debut a “Deconstructed Cake”.
Remember I said we would poetically pour into what the new sauce trends are? Well lets check It out.
Let me tell you, the Mrs of your plane or charter trip probably isn’t ordering a Mornay sauce ( one of our five beloved mother sauces béchamel, but with cheese) on her lamb as she travels to the South of France. Why? Because as a culture we now care VERY much about what we put into our bodies and the effect it has on our appearance.
Which isn’t a bad thing! But as far as sauces go we have to be that much more mindful of how we design a menu.
Remember we discussed those five mother sauces that France gave to the world? Well why do you think they had to design such meticulously delicious but calorie-ridden sauces? Because their meat was terrible! It was a way to disguise the pigeon and poor quality meat they were consuming. It was a different time and place where access to quality proteins didn’t exist and they did the best they could and somehow still became a powerhouse on the world’s culinary stage despite it all.
Luckily, we all have unlimited access and resources to procure gorgeous proteins. We don’t need to hide their quality. In fact we can celebrate it by not disguising it with thick unnecessary sauces.
When menu planning, think of how you can incorporate good-fat-high- acid sauces to your plates. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) with a squeeze of lemon and flaky Maldon salt is all you need on a filet of seabass. No thick creamy sauces here, let’s allow the high quality of the fish to enhance the sauce, rather then the other way around.
Sauces are a great way to disguise food that has been dried out so I understand their need in the world of a private jet galley as flight attendants are constantly re-heating food in dry environments. If a sauce comes with an entree, I will use it, but tactfully.
When we receive a gorgeous petit filet mignon from our catering, what is the texture like? It has beautiful grill marks on it indicating its freshness, right?
As opposed to dumping my red wine reduction sauce all over the top of that filet, maybe instead I could place it at the base of the dish to then have my food layered upon it. The flavor and ingredient still exists on the plate in a cohesive way, and the filet gets to still be the star of the show without hiding behind an opaque brown sauce.
There are a ton of saucing techniques trending right now from the swoosh, to the dots, to the smear and as lovely as they can look, they can also look pretty terrible if not executed properly or with the right viscosity of sauce.
If plating for more than one person, a flight attendant should be able to execute the same sauce technique on multiple plates with ease and haste. I personally have never been able to execute the dotting method perfectly on more than two plates without unnecessarily stressing myself out to ensure they were equally mirrored in likeness.
As much planning that goes into the way we design a menu and procure special treats from the cities we visit, the same amount of planning should go into how you intend to plate each one of your dishes. Think about timing, passenger count, colors, viscosity, and portion to achieve the utmost success from the dining experience you provide your guests.
Food trends are constantly changing and evolving as far as the generation’s span of whomever our guests may be onboard. This span also reflects their food preferences and style. It’s our job to find that rhythm of culinary expression between trend and traditional that satisfies the client. We can deconstruct a cake and EVOO our sauces all day, we can find the exotic edible flowers to decorate our plates with Michelin like finesse but ultimately, the best memory for a client is a flight attendant who is happy and eager to serve them and never sets a dish down without the accompaniment of a smile.
Because good service never goes out of style.