You may have had a Michelin-starred meal – but have you had one in the sky? Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific is taking luxury gourmet dining to new heights by delivering Michelin star dining on flights out of Hong Kong.
A Michelin star home base
Cathay Pacific’s home city of Hong Kong is one of the hottest culinary spots in the world. It may be a tiny country, but it boasts an impressive array of Michelin star restaurants, with 71 restaurants receiving Michelin stars in 2022 alone. You’ll find a delicious blend of Cantonese and South East Asian flavors from the bustling streets to the tops of skyscrapers. But now Cathay Pacific is turning Michelin star dining all the way up – to 30,000 feet.
A gastronomic partnership
Cathay Pacific wanted to create an exquisite gourmet in-flight meal that captures the essence of the Hong Kong culinary scene. They partnered with Michelin star Hong Kong-based restaurant Duddell’s to bring the vision to life. The collaboration produced an exclusive menu of traditional flavors that celebrates Hong Kong’s bubbling culinary scene. Duddell’s is renowned for their stunning Cantonese cuisine and handcrafted dim sums, so excitement is brewing over its newly curated, sky-high menu.
How can I experience Michelin star dining in the air?
The Duddell’s x Cathay Pacific menu is now available to First class and Business class passengers on long-haul Cathay Pacific flights departing from Hong Kong to all destinations (excluding Tel Aviv and Dubai). It will be available throughout the year. If you’d like to experience this one-of-a-kind culinary affair, be sure to secure your seats soon.
What’s on the Michelin star menu?
Guests will be served three luxurious courses during the flight: appetizer, main and dessert. First Class passengers have a choice of chilled abalone and cucumber with black vinegar, or lettuce-wrapped minced pork with vegetables, sweet pomelo and prawn crackers. For mains, First Class guests make the mouthwatering choice between premium Iberico pork belly in a sweet, sticky soy glaze or wok-fried lobster seasoned in ginger with white pepper sauce and fluffy rice. The meal is topped off with chrysanthemum and longan jelly, a spin on two traditional elements in Chinese medicine.
Business Class passengers have a tantalizing choice of drunken prawns in aged Huadiao wine or chicken and jellyfish salad with sesame dressing. The main course delivers steamed halibut with cordycep flowers, aged mandarin peel, and preserved black olives, served with a sour rice noodle soup with barramundi and pickled mustard greens. For dessert, guests can indulge in either a Beijing-style strawberry yogurt pudding or a spiced ginger milk pudding, a twist on a classic Cantonese dessert.
The challenge of Michelin star dining at 30,000 feet
Delivering true Michelin star meals in an aircraft is no easy feat, however Cathay Pacific and Duddell’s rose to the challenge.
High altitude reduces humidity and air pressure which impedes your sense of smell and tastebud sensitivity. If you’ve ever recoiled at bland airplane food, it’s likely because high altitude impairs your ability to detect flavor. The team worked to overcome this by designing the meals to be slightly spicier, saltier and sweeter than they would be in a restaurant on the ground.
You can also forget those square aluminum boxes that airline meals often come in. Michelin star meals must be identically plated with no room for error. With more than 40 meals served each flight through the First class and Business class cabins, the crew are well-versed in beautifully arranging the dishes before serving them to passengers.
A meticulous process
Designing and cooking the dishes was another challenge. Since a full-size kitchen is impossible on a plane, Cathay Pacific mostly prepares the dishes in their kitchens near Hong Kong International Airport. They heat the dishes within about 20 minutes on the aircraft.
The ingredients also had to be fresh with broad appeal and represent the best of Hong Kong cuisine and heritage. With plenty of constraints around the meal design, the menus were tested rigorously. The expert team tasted and revised each dish at least three times before being cleared for takeoff.
With innovative dishes that retain authentic flavors, the Cathay Pacific x Duddell’s partnership has undoubtedly raised the bar for airline fine dining. But does it compare to regular Michelin star dining on the ground? The only way to find out is a First class or Business seat out of Hong Kong.