July 12, 2024

Fiji Airways launches new dining concept

Fiji Airways has launched its inaugural inflight Business menu from chef Richard Cross, taking the airline’s catering to new heights with innovative cooking techniques it claims are rarely seen in commercial aviation. 

Available onboard all Fiji Airways international flights, the debut Business menu from Kiwi-Fijian chef Richard Cross offers fine-dining techniques at 35,000 feet and includes new signature dishes such as kava and cinnamon ice cream and dehydrated vegetable garnishes. A new menu cycle will launch every quarter, with molecular gastronomy and house-smoked produce set to feature on upcoming menus.

Business passengers can now enjoy gourmet meals such as grilled tiger prawn cutlets with sriracha mayo and crispy noodles on a caramelised pineapple bed, grilled aged tenderloin in a creamy peppercorn sauce and mashed potato, herb-crusted chicken breast stuffed with feta and creamy spinach, mash potato, broccoli and grilled carrot ribbonettes. 

A highlight of the new inflight dessert menu includes the signature kava and cinnamon ice cream, as well as cookies and cream banoffee parfait, and bittersweet chocolate panna cotta.

Showcasing indigenous vegetables in a new light, modern cooking and preservation techniques have been used to transform the likes of cassava, sweet potato (yellow kumala), dalo and plantain banana into edible garnishes. 

Cross will also be introducing house-smoked local produce as a regular feature on the airline’s Business menu, including smoked walu fish and smoked beef tenderloin. 

To elevate the Business experience further, passengers will be treated to dessert and salad dishes in bowls resembling a tanoa, traditionally used to prepare the ritual drink of kava. Fiji Airways also utilises eco-friendly Food For Thought packaging, particularly in Economy, which it claims will save up to half a million litres of water a year and will remove up to two tonnes of plastics annually from onboard. 

Richard Cross, executive chef of Fiji Airways explains, “Airline catering has its challenges but I’m looking to change that. My vision is to use cooking and presentation techniques like dehydrated vegetable garnishes, molecular gastronomy, and house-smoked produce that you would expect to see in fine dining restaurants and serve them 35,000 feet in the air.” 

Cross has big ambitions for the airline. “I like to stay ahead of the curve and experiment with new ideas, so I am really excited to be able to implement a range of innovative techniques across our Business Class service,” he says. 

Cross’ inspiration derives from his 28 years of experience as executive chef at various international luxury resorts and his wealth of travel across America, Europe, the Maldives and Australia. After living in Fiji for over nine years, Cross likes to champion local Fijian ingredients in creative ways and also draws on his Kiwi heritage with the inclusion of ingredients such as lamb and seafood, as well as inspiration from the classic Kiwi BBQ. 

Fiji Airways managing director and CEO, Andre Viljoen, said: “Chef Cross and his team have created an in-flight dining experience for our Business Class guests that is equal parts phenomenal and uniquely Fijian. Our new menu is one of the dozens of ways we plan to wow our guests when we welcome them home to Fiji – our returning flyers will love the fresh additions and new guests will certainly get the taste of Fiji they’re looking for.” 

Cross runs regular workshops in the airline’s Aviation Academy in Nadi, Fiji, providing hands-on training for the crew to ensure they can confidently execute the new techniques. He is also working directly with the crew onboard, to guarantee the finest quality is executed across all flights.  

Cross was appointed executive chef of Fiji Airways in December 2021 to oversee all catering functions of the airline.