Chef Wan teams up with an airline to bring Malaysian cuisine to the skies

Eating in heaven was once associated with juicy food or being served something that looks (and tastes) inedible. But now the airlines — tired of being a punctured line, no doubt — have upped their culinary game.

These days, it’s not uncommon to hear about partnerships between airlines and celebrity chefs or gourmet restaurants.

Many of these big culinary names often have huge followings, bringing with them not only flair, but also brilliance to the airline.

Near the house, celebrity Malaysian chef Datuk Redzuan Ismail – better known as Chef Wan – has created a souvenir menu with Qatar Airways.

For Chef Wan, the partnership has given him an opportunity to showcase Malaysia’s unique culinary heritage to a global audience.

“Our food has this history and diversity from different parts of the world, especially Asia, and it is something we can show to the whole world,” he said during the launch of the menu at his restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.

The chef gives banana pie a modern twist. – Chester Chen / starChef Wan drew on his Peranakan heritage to create some of the dishes on the menu. Since Peranakan cuisine requires a lot of ingenuity to prepare and serve, this translates to food with exacting standards.

“From the early years of my culinary experience (learning) from my grandmother, I realized how important attention to detail and quality of food is,” he said, adding that a lot of effort went into curating a quality menu for an airline.

Main course to be served on board includes Ayam Bersik with lemon pilaf rice, char-grilled fish fillets with spicy Portuguese sauce and lamb with Terengganu rice.

According to Qatar Airways, the Malaysian meals will give passengers a glimpse into Malaysia’s illustrious dining heritage.

Sure, airline food has improved by leaps and bounds since its crunchy days. Many of these chefs will need to consider the science behind food tasting differently at high altitudes.

According to experts, being at a high altitude has a very real effect on our sense of smell and taste.

In a pressurized compartment, oxygen levels in the blood drop. This reduces the capacity of our olfactory receptors. Added to this is the dry air constantly circulating in the cabin of the plane, which directly affects the nose.

The aforementioned certainly gives a better appreciation for the food being prepared for airline passengers.

We track some other exciting past and current partnerships between airlines and celebrity chefs.

Most of these specially curated menus are only available for First Class and Business Class passengers.

But there are also some synergies that extend to the Economy Class menu.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore’s national carrier has hired not one, not two, but seven world-renowned chefs to curate its on-board menu. Dubbed the ‘International Culinary Plate’, these chefs are constantly creating new dishes for the passengers. Some of the names on their menu today include celebrity Australian chef Matthew Moran, Michelin-starred restaurateur Carlo Krakow, and Kaiseki educator Yoshihiro Murata.

All Nippon Airways

Like Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airways (ANA) also has a team of world-renowned chefs. Collectively referred to as “The Experts,” the team’s specialty lies in a range of cuisines – from Japanese to French and mixed. Some of the names on her current list are Toru Okuda, Yoshihiro Takahashi, Ryuta Iizuka, and Hideki Takayama.

Air France

Being the official carrier of the culinary capital of the world, Air France has courted many famous French chefs over the years. Anne-Sophie Beck, François Adamsky, Jay Martin and Michelle Roth are among some of the big names who design the airline’s meals. These signature dishes are replenished from time to time to give passengers a taste of the most exquisite culinary creations.


Celebrity Australian chef Neil Berry and Qantas have been in a partnership since 1997, making it the longest-running partnership of its kind. As the chef behind revered Rockpool restaurants in many major Australian cities, Berry has served the airline with many innovative dishes over the years. His culinary creations are designed around seasonality and artisanal producers.

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