During our adventures @Taste of Hong Kong 2017, we met Chef Yazan Abu Ghazaleh, the in-flight star chef of Etihad Airways.

Q. The air pressure and humidity in the air cabin affect our sense of taste. How do you accommodate this?

A: We aim at preparing healthy airline meals, so adding seasonings such as salt and pepper in excess can be inappropriate. I would use a variety of different ingredients that pair well to enhance the flavour instead. For example, squeezing lemon juice onto seafood can enhance the flavour.  Since I will be travelling every day, I’ll be able to visit many different food markets in several different countries. I’ll have great access to a variety of spices and sauces. These new flavours will inspire me in thinking of new flavour combinations.  

Q: What are the challenges of being an in-flight Chef?

A: There are some cooking limitations in the cabin. For example, we’re unable to use any fire when cooking. Also, slow-cooked meals such as stews are not recommended as meals must be provided swiftly, especially since most passengers want a quick meal before their rest. Fresh ingredients and beautiful plating are also crucial.You have to be creative when designing in-flight menus but you also have to understand the limitations, and be wary of the safety hazards. Besides cooking skills, safety is a priority.

Q: How do you deal with jet lag?

A: Haha, I don’t have this problem because I eat healthily and I get enough sleep. I also recommend eating less bread and corn. eating more vegetables and drinking water. Basically, keep your meal light before going on board. Working in a cabin, you need to have good discipline. For example, not drinking any alcohol before or during cooking duty. We also don’t serve any food cooked in alcohol but we do serve meals with food and wine pairings.

 

Angela Kwon & Ron Chiu

CC: Drawing Holiday