The opening of Qantas' all-new London Heathrow lounge is still one year away but the airline's Rockpool team is already mapping out what meals will be served in the split-level space.
It's testament to how far ahead the Flying Kangaroo's menus are planned, both on the ground and in the air, with seasonal produce and variety for the traveller both taking a front seat in the process.
And in the same way that the design of the London lounge will have a rather British bent – mirroring the US West Coast and Asian influences of its siblings at Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Singapore – so too will the meals offered to Qantas passengers before winging their way to Australia.
"We're bouncing around ideas at the moment" says Rockpool's Roger Barstow, who oversees the planning of Qantas' lounge and inflight menus, "using some of the fantastic ingredients we can get from the UK and Europe, because there's some amazing produce that can be sourced."
The seasonal refresh of Qantas' London lounge menu should also be more marked than that of its counterparts because "the seasons are more pronounced in Europe than in Australia, you have that really true feel of seasons within the UK."
The British-born Barstow, who trained in restaurants in London and the UK before moving to Australia, also has his eye on a few old favourite dishes but adds "there are lots of ideas floating around" in this early stage.
"We will potentially have a few signature dishes," he tips, and with Qantas' A380 flights to Sydney and Melbourne leaving at different times of the day – Melbourne's QF10 at noon and Sydney's QF2 at 8.30pm – "the offering could possibly be different" to reflect lunch and dinner dining.
But planning the London lounge menu also takes into account what's served on the flights themselves, Barstow explains.
"We don't have any control over what Emirates is serving within their Dubai lounges, but flying out of London we need to ensure that the food will be different in the Heathrow lounge as to what will be on the first Qantas flight from London to Dubai and then on to Sydney or Melbourne."
This is an increasing area of focus right across the Qantas network, Barstow says.
"If you live in Perth and are flying business class to New York you're going to fly Perth to Sydney, Sydney to LA and then LA to New York. So you’ve got three inflight experiences and also three lounge experiences, and what we want to ensure is that you don't see the same dishes along the way."
Barstow's team has already written up the inflight menus through to February 2017.
"The next phase of menus that we will be working on in a few months' time will be the 20th anniversary of the Rockpool and Qantas partnership, so that's pretty significant, and we also have the Boeing 787 aircraft coming."
"We always have to work far in advance to ensure that upon time of delivery everything is seamless as possible."
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