Etihad Airways’ in-flight chef, Francois Van Zyl, and Nadeem Farooq, from Abu Dhabi In-Flight Catering Company, have triumphed in the prestigious 2012 Asia-Pacific Onboard Travel Chef’s Competition.
The competition was held in the Korean city of Incheon as part of the annual Asia Pacific Onboard Travel Forum, hosted by the International Flight Services Association and the Airline Passenger Experience Association. Francois Van Zyl and Nadeem Farooq were up against five other teams from Korea, Australia, Singapore, Japan, and Vietnam. Competitors received a mystery box of ingredients to use in their dishes, including items like eel, fresh ginseng and sesame leaves.
Francois said: “The competition was very challenging, especially given the unique ingredients and we were in a different kitchen environment. We had to showcase our skills and knowledge and come up with the best onboard menu using what we had in the mystery box.
“Nadeem and I worked well as a team and focused on presenting a unique world-class menu. We used the main ingredients in various forms and went a step further by creating pasta and tuile. We also used techniques like spherification, the culinary process of shaping a liquid into spheres, to create fruit caviar.”
Francois and Nadeem’s winning menu offered a starter including eel variation, eel terrine with asparagus, eel paupiette with herb salad and squid ink tuile, and eel ravioli with sage butter. The main course included deboned beef flank rolled with olive and fresh herbs accompanied by sweet potato creation, fresh garden vegetables and sesame leaves stuffed with exotic mushrooms and beef jus. For dessert, mango Pannacota was presented accompanied by a homemade ginseng ice cream and caviar of grape juice and blue caracou (blue orange syrup) finished off with fresh berry coulis.
Etihad Airways’ Vice President Guest Services, Aubrey Tiedt, said: “The Asia Pacific Onboard Travel Forum is an excellent opportunity to promote the position of Abu Dhabi as a prestigious gastronomic destination.
“We are very proud of our in-flight chef, Francois Van Zyl who exposed the creative guest services that our in-flight chefs offer at 35,000 feet in the air. Francois and Nadeem demonstrated the spirit great of a winning team.”