Photo: Nick Lee

Frank Sinatra once crooned “Come Fly with Me” — crafting visions of luxury in the skies. And in addition to comfort, what’s more alluring than a memorable meal to go with it?

Enter Air Canada, whose partnership with revered Chef David Hawksworth of Vancouver’s Hawksworth Restaurant, sought to create a quintessentially Canadian menu for its International Business Class and Maple Leaf Lounges.

Poached chilled prawns, tomato puree, celeriac horseradish, grilled zucchini

Poached chilled prawns, tomato puree, celeriac horseradish, grilled zucchini

 

And it seems obvious why the desire to do so was present. Craig Landry, Vice President of Marketing, cites the importance of representing its proud Canadian roots through its cuisine. This is especially pertinent for would-be jetsetters, where food is typically the initial foray into discovering a country’s identity.

Beginning October 1st, 2015, Chef Hawksworth’s dishes will be offered on Air Canada flights in International Business Class and its Maple Leaf Lounges. They will showcase Chef’s ability to procure fresh, local ingredients and skilled cooking techniques. Coupled with stellar service, these “enhancements” as they are dubbed, will be rolled out on Air Canada’s Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner fleets.

Chef David Hawksworth enjoyed tackling the challenges of creating dishes fit for dining in the skies. For someone who toiled in Michelin- starred kitchens (Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, L’Escargot and The Square) before helming his own restaurant in 2011, his countless and varied experiences have bolstered his abilities as a talented visionary. He was cognizant of many logistical issues– from cooking in confined spaces to execution of dishes on board the plane. If anything, the experience in overcoming these obstacles has imbued him with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

To combat the issue of potentially muted taste buds at 35,000 ft, food is given a mélange of textures and tastes. Appetizers such as crispy puffed rice sprinkled on top of creamy Yellowfin Tuna Tataki is a prime example. Scallion ginger vinaigrette lends the perfect amount of acidity. Also glorious is the Smoked Ontario Duck Breast– it is unctuously soft on the tongue. It sits a top of a lacy wafer and invigorated with refreshing Waldorf salad and mustard apple puree. For mains, Tamari Roasted Sablefish makes eyes roll back with pleasure. The sweet fish is an umami wonderland; it hits all the happy zones on the palate. For dessert, a creamy dark chocolate fondant whispers with hazelnuts. Tart blackberry compote provides a tangy refresher from the richness.

Dark chocolate fondant with blackberry compote for dessert | Photo: Air Canada

Dark chocolate fondant with blackberry compote for dessert | Photo: Air Canada

 

In respecting the seasonality of ingredients, every quarter, new dishes will be presented on the menu. Which is to say– a welcome bonus for frequent flyers and having something to look forward to. It would appear that “Airline food” just got an upgrade to something refined and sumptuous.

Photos by Tiffany Leigh and Nick Lee

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