Airplane food's getting the Union Square Cafe treatment. Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group and Delta Air Lines' partnership, which started in 2013, has now expanded for Chef Carmen Quagliata to serve Union Square Cafe food on planes, as the Times first reported. The menu will only be available on select international flights with Delta One, new luxury cabins with amenities like flat-bed seating. "We want passengers to say, 'This is great food' — not, 'This is great food for an airline'," John Harenda, vice president of operations for USHG's catering arm tells the paper.
Quagliata's menu includes the cafe's classic roasted chicken breast, shrimp and polenta, beef short rib stracotta, and a baked paccheri basil cream pasta, according to Delta. Flight attendants follow instructions from training videos to serve the food, pouring sauces and garnishes from small paper cups onto plates, according to the Times. Already, Blue Smoke and Marta have been serving their version of airplane food.
Airplane food is notorious for being bad, partly because modern pressurized cabins numbs taste buds and reduces a sense of smell. Other airlines have also partnered with celebrity chefs like Alain Ducasse and Charlie Trotter, but the food hasn't matched restaurant quality. USHG and Delta is hoping to be different, the Times reports. "We really want to change the conversation around what airline food is," a Delta rep says. The menu will launch on March 1, making luxury Delta flights the only place to eat Union Square Cafe food until it reopens on Park Avenue South.