Cabin crew turn short-order cooks, preparing gourmet meals for Qantas First and Business passengers.
If making perfect scrambled eggs in your own kitchen is a challenge, try doing it in the galley of an aircraft. How about whipping up roast duck with Asian greens, seared blue-eye, or spaghetti with prawns and sautéed zucchini? When the crew are busy in the galley, chances are that’s what they’re up to.
The scrambled eggs served in Qantas First and Business are made with two ingredients: fresh eggs and real cream. Cabin crew cook them on board to the exact specifications of Qantas creative director of food, beverage and service Neil Perry, who decreed the mixture be stirred just twice. The result? Creamy, café-worthy eggs with sourdough toast.
Some menu items change but the eggs remain – and there’s always at least one Rockpool Bar & Grill signature dish in First (for example, roast rack of lamb with mint jelly and vegetables).
Every meal served in Qantas First, international Business, domestic Business and airport lounges is the result of a collaboration between Perry, Rockpool chefs and consultants, thousands of food producers, the Qantas Food and Beverage team, catering centres around the world and cabin crew.
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Fourteen elements go into the steak sandwich (a mainstay on the First menus for 20 years), which is constructed on board. And those scrambled eggs? As there are no cooktops on planes, they are cooked in the galley ovens. When Rockpool chefs first tested the recipe, the eggs turned green from a reaction with the aluminium dishes. But rather than put the eggs in the too-hard basket, they devised a cardboard ovenproof dish. Ensuring the food is fresh is an important consideration when translating Perry’s dishes to the air. The freshness required just isn’t possible when food is pre-cooked and reheated so the team came up with a new method. “We cook using fresh produce – cooking and blanching inflight – and don’t simply reheat like other airlines,” says Perry. That’s how guests can have their lamb medium through to well done and their green beans squeaky with freshness.
As food and wine are vital elements of the Qantas experience, when cabin crew begin working in First and Business, they undergo a specialised, intensive five-day training program that includes preparing, cooking and plating food in real working galleys. They learn everything they need to know, including how to mix Perry’s palm-sugar salad dressing and, importantly, how to cook scrambled eggs on a plane.