January 16, 2019
Daniel Vézina has been at the heart of the Québec culinary scene for more than 35 years: he’s the co-owner of the Laurie Raphaël restaurants in Québec City and Montréal and last May opened a health-food counter called La Serre.
Author of six cookery books and a household name in Québec, where he hosts several cooking shows, in summer 2017 he was invited to create a main course to be served in Air Transat’s Club. The feedback was so positive the airline asked him to take care of the cabin’s entire inflight tray.
The Chef’s Menu by Daniel Vézina is inspired by his signature recipes, but even an award-winning chef admits that transferring ‘a refined gastronomy experience’ to 30,000ft is a challenge.
“You simply can’t replicate a restaurant’s excellence in the sky, but you can offer a quality experience by preparing and choosing the right ingredients for your menus and by being as authentic as you can be. “I try to provide quality comfort food, the sort of meals I would cook myself on a cold weekend in Québec,” he added. Daniel works with Fleury Michon, based in western Montréal.
“It’s a big factory and when they make one of my dishes they produce around 10,000 of them at a time, so the most important challenge is one of achieving standardisation and consistency. I go every three months or so, to work with them to create new dishes, working with the produce they have sourced and I have suggested. Usually I create four or five plates.”
Despite the big scales involved – each year Air Transat carries some three million passengers to around 60 destinations in 26 countries – Daniel will source Canadian suppliers where practical. The airline’s current winter menu includes braised leg of lamb; pork filet mignon with Québec blueberries and artichoke; spinach lasagna with ricotta; gnocchi with bolognese sauce; chicken blanquette ragout with lemon zest and seasonal vegetables; plus a range of desserts and breakfast dishes.
The menu is complimentary to Club passengers in Economy while the meals and their accompaniments are available for $25 for lunch/dinner and $15 for breakfast. Vézina says: “Air Transat is a big and exciting challenge for me. What we have created onboard is already good but in a few years it is going to be very, very good. Watch this space!”