On December 1, we will begin serving an all-new menu for our United PolarisSM business class and United Polaris global first service featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients and bold flavors from around the world. The dishes will rotate every three months, so customers will continue to have new flavors and dishes to experience on board.
"We have some amazing new menu items including Thai-style lemongrass shrimp on a bed of papaya mango salad, and smoked duck with cranberry pumpkin farro salad and whole grain mustard," said Jeff Pelch, senior manager of product strategy and implementation for United's Food Services team. "And those are just the appetizers."
This menu is the culmination of nearly a year of work between United executive chefs and chefs affiliated with The Trotter Project, a nonprofit organization, committed to mentoring and internship programs for youth interested in the culinary arts. The Trotter Project chefs bring their expertise in different global cuisines to make inflight dining a memorable experience for United customers.
"From a food perspective, this is one of the largest launches we've ever done," said Chef Gerry Gulli, United's menu development manager. "It's not just the launch of a new menu, but an entirely new experience. We've conducted 28 menu workshops in 16 cities on 5 continents to ensure that we are developing cuisine that showcases the flavors of the destinations we fly from."
When creating the new United Polaris menu, chefs and design teams focused on fresh, bold flavors and regional ingredients. It all started at a design workshop, where The Trotter Project chefs and United team members developed menu concepts. After the workshop, United Executive Chef Gerry McLoughlin and his team worked to translate the concepts into inflight dining selections based on what he knows will resonate onboard.
"We want to maintain the overall concept," Chef McLoughlin explained. "But we have to consider temperature variances, how the food will get plated, and how it will hold up in the operation. It's very different than serving at a restaurant on the ground. Our restaurant is traveling at 500 miles per hour at 35,000 feet above the ground."
Then the team had the opportunity to taste a lot of food. The chefs also used feedback from customers before making the menu decisions. The reimagined entrees that made the final cut include poached salmon with lentil chili and broccolini; braised short ribs with bordelaise and creamy polenta; lemongrass-infused chicken in a coconut ginger soup; and Shahi paneer with vegetable jalfrezi and basmati rice. The new seasonal salads feature ingredients like baby spinach, strawberries, red seedless grapes, oranges and pumpkin seeds.
"We placed a priority on bold flavors, since you lose about 30 percent of your sense of taste in the air," explained Chef McLoughlin, who has worked in prestigious kitchens at the Drake Hotel and the Palmer House in Chicago. "We decided to really push the envelope with our new menus."
Creating the best inflight dining experience for customers involves more than just picking the right ingredients and recipes. The chefs even worked with the new custom dinnerware, including plates, bowls and serving dishes, that will be used in flight during the meal service. This helped them decide on the right portion size for each dish and allowed them to make sure the presentation of the dishes on board resembles the presentation that would be used at a restaurant.
"Every element of every menu item was scrutinized," Chef McLoughlin explained. "And every detail of the service was examined. We set the bar high and I'm confident that we're going to deliver a memorable experience."
Customers will even have the option to enjoy a meal at a United Polaris lounge before their flight. Travelers can indulge in a full multi-course meal service or choose from a variety of small plates, in case they'd like to get right to sleep once on board.
Get a sneak peek of the full experience before United Polaris takes off on December 1, 2016.
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