Ritz-Carlton Beijing and Air China team up to offer gourmet in-flight meals

By Tom Wadlow
Chinese carrier Air China has unveiled a new in-flight catering partnership with the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Beijing. It forms part of the company's stra...

Chinese carrier Air China has unveiled a new in-flight catering partnership with the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Beijing.

It forms part of the company's strategy to transform its gourmet in-flight offering, though the cuisine in question is Italian, and not Chinese as might have been expected.

Barolo, the Italian restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Beijing, is named after the famed winemaking region in northern Italy, and forms the inspiration for the new menu and matching wines. Among the dishes desired by Air China include spiced prawn salad, tomato and basil soup, braised beef tenderloin with prosciutto, and panna cotta for dessert.

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The biggest obstacle was that, due to the nature of the industry, airline catering is subject to a whole host of requirements and restrictions in terms of production, storage and transportation.

For example, airline food is part of the cold chain and needs to be re-heated up on the plane. Affected by high cabin pressure, a passenger's senses of taste and smell are less sensitive in the cabin, which means that the same food will taste differently in the air than it does on the ground.

The choices of possible ingredients are even more restricted in high-altitude enclosed cabin environments, so Air China is enlisting the help of Beijing Air Catering, specialist in aviation food and drink for nearly 40 years.

The new gourmet Italian dining option will be available in all first class cabins on routes between China and North America from 1 August.

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