Every airline has its iconic dishes, those perennial favourites of high flyers – meals which have become so intrinsically linked with that airline’s travel experience that removing it from the menu is out of the question, and even tinkering with it comes at great risk.
For Singapore Airlines, that signature dish is of course the Lobster Thermidor offered in business first class through the carrier’s Book The Cook service.
“The Lobster Thermidor sits at number one” on Singapore Airlines’s Book The Cook menu says Antony McNeil, the airline’s Global Food & Beverage Director, with almost 13,000 portions of the succulent shellfish served this year.
Changing up the crustacean recipe was therefore not something McNeil approached lightly, but something which needed to be done in light of a broader trend towards healthier eating.
“During Covid we ran through some of the Book The Cook dishes to refresh them, lighten them up a little bit, to make them a little bit more health-conscious while maintaining the integrity of the dishes” McNeil tells Executive Traveller.
“With the lobster, we stripped the recipe back and looked at the key components – it was quite heavy on cream and very heavy on cheese, so we removed a little bit of the cream and we reduced the cheese content – those elements still there, they are just not as heavy as previous.”
“But during the cooking process, we’ve taken a little bit more of the lobster stock and a little bit more cognac to enrich the base.”
“We also removed the saffron rice and replaced it with a fondant potato, which is basically grilled or caramelised and slowly simmered in the lobster stock so it takes up that enriched lobster flavour.”
“As for the veggies, the traditional asparagus remains, but then we have a balance of seasonal veggies that will rotate during the course of the year.”
For something with a more local flavour, Singapore Airlines continues to showcase a series of popular local dishes from the city-state’s renowned hawker centres.
One of these – a deceptively simple chicken rice from Boon Tong Kee – was so popular, it replaced Singapore Airlines’ own vision of the dish at the beginning of this year.
“The sauces and condiments are made by the restaurant, so we’ve adapted the recipes here with their blessing to make sure it’s accurate and authentic to their original recipe of the restaurant.”
The chicken rice joins other hawker centre favourites in the Book The Cook “menu bank”, McNeill says, “and we are now putting these on a more frequent rotation.”
“So previously we might have updated Book The Cook once every six months, now we're looking to update it every three months or so.”
As previously reported, Singapore Airlines has also tweaked its first class caviar service offered to passengers in its Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 suites.
“Each passenger will receive an individual jar of caviar (instead of) the crew dishing it out,” McNeil explains.
These are 30gm jars of Oscietra Caviar, into which travellers will now delve using an elegant Mother of Pearl caviar spoon.
“We’ve just changed the presentation slightly to put the emphasis on more of an individual service, and part of that process is enjoying that caviar with a beautiful Mother of Pearl spoon,” McNeil says.