““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
Raising the bar for onboard dining
Not satisfied with the food or wine on your flights? Maybe what you need is a chef or sommelier who can accompany you on your trips and tailor everything to your exact specifications.
Royal Jet, a charter operator based in the United Arab Emirates, recently launched such a service. The company, which is owned by Abu Dhabi Aviation and Amiri Flight, the royal flight service, offers a pre-flight consultancy with its chefs, who then are available to travel with clients, said director of services and cabin crew Aubrey Tiedt.
"They prepare and plan the entire culinary side of a guest's journey," she said, "discussing preferences and providing customized menus-not just the food, but also the finest beverages from Royal Jet's cellar."
Half a world away, the Los Angeles-based Classico Group is offering pre-flight and in-flight services of a group of sommeliers. "When I was in the catering industry, I noticed too often that the wine service was an afterthought," said Classico founder Marko Paavolainen. "The client may have spent money on wine, but it was often an inappropriate food and wine pairing, or some other element of proper wine service was lacking."
Classico Group's sommeliers can work with a chef or caterer in the selection of wines or even assist in creating a personalized wine collection for an aircraft owner or flight department. Its sommeliers are available to travel with the client to ensure proper onboard wine service.
"If you would accept nothing but the finest cuisine," said Paavolainen, "why would you accept anything less than the perfect wine?"