Qantas frequent flyers will be swapping boarding passes for chopping boards over the coming weeks in a series of virtual cooking classes with chef Neil Perry.
It’s the latest initiative to help temporary grounded frequent flyers remain engaged with the airline, while also burning off some of their points and having a bit of fun along the way.
With most international flights grounded since March 2020, and domestic travel hamstrung by a series of lockdowns and border closures, Qantas has turned to creative outlets such as scenic flights to nowhere (including high above Sydney, to observe the supermoon lunar eclipse), destination-themed flights to somewhere, selling fully-stocked Boeing 747 bar carts, and auctioning off everything from Airbus A380 business class seats to time in a Boeing 787 flight simulator.
This month, across three consecutive Saturdays starting September 11, frequent flyers will prepare a dinner for two with Perry’s expert guidance beamed live into their kitchen.
For 25,000 Qantas Points or $199, participants receive a box of pre-prepared ingredients and recipes covering five dishes, along with two sets of Qantas business class pyjamas.
Online classes take off
As more people are cooking at home during lockdown, they’re becoming a bit more adventurous in stepping outside their comfort zone and looking to “break the boredom” of their go-to meals, Perry suggests.
“I think more and more people are going to the markets, buying fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch,” Perry tells Executive Traveller.
“But they’re also doing things like meal kits or getting boxed food where they are involved to a certain extent in the cooking.”
The growth in online classes encompassing just about every skill has also seen people eager to hone their cooking skills.
For Perry, however, this isn’t just a one-and-done session. “On the Tuesday night there’s an introduction where I tell people what to except and we talk about some of the produce that’s in the box.”
“For example, the first box for our classic roast dinner has amazing Cobram extra virgin olive oil and a block of CopperTree Farms salted butter which we’ll turn into spiced butter, some incredible and sustainable Spencer Gulf king prawns , and some beautiful gourmet potatoes grown in rich earth out of Robertson NSW.”
“Then I do a video on how the spiced butter is made, how to butterfly the chicken, so they can get themselves prepped and confident.”
“The box of produce arrives on Friday, some of it’s prepared and some you get to prepare in the lead-up to the class, and on Saturday evening we all go onto Instagram Live and we cook together, we plate everything, and we all sit down and enjoy a beautiful meal.”
This approach also simplifies the shopping experience. “Sometimes it’s really hard to buy just four dried long red chillies or a teaspoon of coriander seeds, so everything in the box is portioned.”
From Sunday roast to exotic Morrocan dinner
The classic roast dinner on Saturday September 11 is followed by a unique Neil's Memories dinner, which he says contains a few ‘retro dishes’ inspired by his youth such as Steak Dianne.
“There are all these dishes from the past which are often forgotten, so you need to be reminded sometimes that a lovely cream sauce on a great steak – we use CopperTree Farms steaks, which come from the most amazing six-year old dairy cows – is not only acceptable in the modern world, it’s still delicious.”
Saturday September 25 sees Perry share his love of middle Eastern food with a ‘Moroccan Experience’. “I’ve been cooking and mucking around with Moroccan food ever since the mid-80s,” he says.
This dinner features two tagines – one of lamb, pumpkin and chickpea, the other of chicken, olive and date.
The first comes prepared “because it will be too complex to make two tagines at the same time, but you’ll still get the recipe and we’ll make the chicken, olive and date tagine together on the night, plus the fattoush salad, the friend middle Eastern bread, and the orange, almond and date salad.”
To finish off, each dinner includes two desserts which are also delivered ready to enjoy, “but during the week I’ll run through how to make that, so you can make it later on any time you want.”
For more on Qantas’ live Niel Perry cooking classes, click here.