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Delta Cooks Up Luxury 'Airline Food' Brand

Vera Gibbons and Andrew Fisher
Wednesday, 3 Oct 2007 | 12:11 PM ET

One block from Carnegie Hall, four blocks from posh eatery Le Cirque, at the intersection of wealth and style, New York City has a new restaurant.

The menu? Airline food.

But Delta Air Lines says it's like no airline food you're likely to remember.

Yes, that Delta Air Lines , the one that was flying in bankruptcy for most of the last several years.

"There's a new Delta that has come out in the last few months," airline spokesperson Joan Vincenz tells CNBC, "and we want to get people in to experience it on the ground, so they want to experience it in the air."

"You've really got to talk to people and interact with them face to face. It's not about just ads any more, or advertising or posters. They really want to interact with the product," said Vincenz.

The interaction is taking place for the next five weeks at a public lounge in Manhattan called SKY360, and the upscale menu of in-flight meals is the work of celebrity chef Todd English.

The menu includes Mediterranean salad with grilled shrimp, roast beef Cobb sandwich, chilled black olive spaghetti salad, cheddar-turkey bacon-apple butter croissants and Nutter Butter sandwiches. "We're gonna use organic greens, tomato, cucumber, onion, some feta cheese," English promises.

The meals will be introduced next month, and by next spring, they will be available on all flights of approximately 750 miles in the contiguous United States. Items will sell for between two and ten dollars.

Delta has also hired Andrea Robinson, a master sommelier, TV host and author, to oversee its wine offerings, and nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber to create distinctive onboard cocktails. "We have everything with martinis, margaritas, mojitos, about seven or eight different specialty drinks now, and going forward, we'll add more to the collection," Gerber tells CNBC.

Delta is not alone in bringing good taste to the skies. Air France's wine selections are overseen by Olivier Poussier, named the world's best sommelier in 2000, and its first-class meal menu was designed by renowned Paris chef Guy Martin.

Jimmy Canora, whose NYC Culinary Events has catered the U.S. Open, the Tribeca Film Festival and the Grammy awards, consults for Continental Airlines. On a recent episode of Bravo's Top Chef show, which is sponsored by Continental , Canora helped judge a contest in which the challenge was to cook a meal fit for Continental's first-class passengers.

The airlines may have some distance to go in coping with weather delays and baggage diversions, but at mealtime, things are certainly looking up.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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