Can Lufthansa Change the Sky Food Game with Umami?

Posted in In the Air, International, Lufthansa

A few weeks ago, Condé Nast Traveler published a “Daily Traveler” piece about the efforts Lufthansa’s consulting chefs are making to infuse their in-flight meals with flavor without resorting to the old tricks of pumping up the sodium and spices to turn the food into salty spice bombs. Wait. No. I didn’t mean bombs. You can’t say bombs in regards to airplanes. I meant salty spice… nuggets. Moving on.

During a test of some of Lufthansa’s new dishes for First and Business Class travelers at David Bouley’s Tribeca test kitchen, writer Barbara Peterson finds out that the new secret plan of LSG SkyChefs (the culinary arm of Lufthansa) revolves all around flavor. The fifth flavor, that is. In addition to balancing the four traditional taste profiles of salty/sweet/sour/bitter, they also must highlight umami.

What’s umami, you ask? It’s the so-called “fifth taste,” the embodiment of that savory flavor you can’t quite put your finger on when you’re enjoying roasted tomatoes or mushrooms or fish sauce (or MSG, which is specifically engineered for umami). LSG SkyChefs is deploying umami in a number of new dishes including:

Firecracker shrimp marinated in garlic, chiles, and cumin with tomato salpicon and green gazpacho vinaigrette

Potato-encrusted salmon with a Cabernet cream sauce and micro greens

Beef tenderloin with ginger-spiked enoki mushrooms and shiso leaves

While I don’t support beef tenderloin on planes, I do think that shrimp dish sounds mighty good and that salmon would work just as well at 35,000 ft. as it would at the next wedding you attend. Good work, Lufthansa. I’ll have to book a flight to test out the new stuff soon.



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  1. Not saying there’s nothing to this, but having flown Lufthansa many times in business class and a few times in first both before and after when this was written, I think Lufthansa could do a lot more to improve their catering – and more easily – by just switching to the Do&Co catering used by their subsidiary Austrian.

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