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From paddock to plane

02 May 2019

A partnership between MLA and leading airline caterer Gate Gourmet is showcasing the quality of Australian beef and lamb to high-flying consumers all over the world.

Culinary menus covering everything from snacks to main courses and both business and economy class have been developed following an extensive process of creating, fine-tuning, costing and tasting.

From slow-cooked lamb shoulder with roasted garlic mash to Texan-style barbecue beef brisket, the mouth-watering meal options recently received a big tick of approval from a group of travel agents invited to visit Gate Gourmet’s Sydney kitchen.

Heading the menu overhaul has been Gate Gourmet’s regional executive chef for the Asia Pacific region, Jeremy Steele. Gate Gourmet is part of the global gate group, which services end-to-end airline catering from 200 facilities in 60 countries. Gate Gourmet produces 22,000 meals a day out of its main full service hot kitchen in Mascot and Jeremy leads 19 kitchens in 10 countries from the Middle East to North East Asia.

Recipe development

MLA Corporate Chef Sam Burke explained an extensive behind-the-scenes process to developing airline meal options has to tick many boxes.

“We have to meet cost-of-goods targets, be able to guarantee cuts are readily available into all Gate Gourmet’s kitchens, be on trend with the celebrity chefs employed by airlines and our Studio Culinaire team, create options that are easy to prepare by cabin staff at 30,000 feet, taste great and answer passenger demands in terms of provenance and sustainable production of food,” he said.

“Australian red meat is trusted, natural and delicious, so it allows us to deliver on just that.”

Chef Jeremy said Gate Gourmet Sydney’s 52 qualified chefs were passionate about fresh food.

“Working with MLA means we can have confidence our meals are backed up by a quality ingredient we know eats well every time,” he said.

“The airlines we work with are talking about meeting all customer demands, including the desire to know more about where their food comes from. We’re looking to take the initiative and show provenance, show that it meets all their demands for issues like sustainability.”

Virtual reality

As part of the visit, the group of travel agents, invited by Gate Gourmet’s client Singapore Airlines, were treated to a tour on-board MLA’s virtual reality Paddock to Plate bus, which gave them an understanding of Australia’s red meat production systems.

Travel agents are important influencers and food is increasingly becoming a differentiator for airlines.

Sam told the travel agents red meat was an integral part of Australian life and our beef and lamb was marketed all around the world.

He explained that for more than 200 years, Aussie producers have passed their knowledge down from generation to generation, creating a proud and professional industry that has become famous for producing some of the world’s best quality red meat.

MLA staff were on hand to discuss the natural environment to raise cattle and sheep that Australia boasts, the excellent reputation it enjoys for quality assurance, food safety and traceability systems and world-leading eating quality system Meat Standards Australia.

Chef Matthew Morgan, development chef at Luke Mangan & Company, looks after Virgin Australia business class and Luke’s restaurants on P&O Cruises, and described the Paddock to Plate virtual reality concept as progressive.

“I haven’t seen the paddock to plate process before and it was extremely informative,” he said.

“Everyone – from home cooks to airline passengers – want to know more about where their food comes from and that it is produced sustainably.”