Last week the flying foodies of Australian Business Traveller broke the news that Virgin Blue had hired Australian chef Luke Mangan to overhaul its inflight menu.
Now we're pleased to bring you the first look at Mangan's Virgin Blue economy class menu and some of the dishes themselves, which the Aussie superchef believes will be “high-quality food that travellers actually want to buy”.
It's a pretty extensive selection for what began as a no-frills airline, although that change of image is exactly what Virgin Blue is hoping for as it moves upmarket and takes on Qantas for both the leisure and business travel markets.
Let's start with the meals themselves, available as both individual items and in 'bundles' containing a drink and a snack.
Those bundles include this Premium Panini Meal ($15) with a panini roll of roast beef, semi-dried tomato, rocket and horseradish or Mediterranean vegetables, Swiss cheese and an olive tapenade; served with a Carman's dark chocolate cranberry and almond bar, and a non-alcoholic drink of your choice.
For a more traditionally Aussie take on food at 30,000 feet, there's a 'gourmet chunky beef pie' with tomato relish and your choice of beer or wine (also $15 for the lot).
Mangan is also designing the menu for Virgin Blue's new domestic business class service to be launched in May, beginning with flights between Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
Here's a sneak peek of what passengers will be enjoying (and included in the ticket price, what's more) at the pointy end of the aircraft.
For mains, how about a Petuna Tasmanian ocean trout with asparagus and a salad of fennel (above) or a small Caprese salad (below).
Followed by a glass of red (or if we're really lucky, a sweet Noble One Botrytis Semillon dessert wine?) and a cheese board.
But those delights are still a few months away: for now, here are the new Luke Mangan economy menus so you can check out the choices on your next Virgin Blue flight.
If you're seeking something on the lighter side, the snack menu ranges from $3 cookies and chocolate bars to $5 slices of banana bread.
To wash it all down there's coffee, tea, fruit juices plus wine, beer and miniature bottles of spirits.
For more on the push for expert chefs to transform airline food from being merely edible to totally enjoyable, read our interview with Neil Perry and our update on what's happening in the galleys of Cathay Pacific, Asiana and Lufthansa.
And if you’re keen for a peek behind the scenes, Australian food blogger Lorraine Elliot reveals how the in-flight food from award-winning Emirates gets from the airline’s on-ground kitchen to your seat as you cruise 30,000 feet above the ground at her Not Quite Nigella blog.