The man recreating airplane meals to get by way of lockdown

The man recreating airplane meals to get through lockdown


(Source) — Some of Nik Sennhauser’s earliest reminiscences are of longhaul flights — and of consuming on a aircraft.

“The first time I got on a plane I was about five months old,” he says.

“I grew up between Austria and Thailand, so I’d be on a plane every two to three months or so.

“It was the one place the place, asl a child, I might simply eat the entire meal with out query.

“At home, my mom would have to force me to eat stuff, but on a plane I’d just eat whatever I was given. I remember getting on the plane and looking forward to the food.”

With household all around the world — his mother and father in Thailand, his sisters within the United States and Switzerland, and a brother in Spain — flying has at all times meant “home” to him.

And so a Proustian connection was made. The little boy who was “quite obsessed with plane food” and flying grew up into a completely fledged “avgeek,” or aviation fan. A contract venture supervisor and social media supervisor till final 12 months, he used his freedom to journey the world, withdrawing after flight, and posting movies of his expertise on YouTube.

“I used to spend all my free time on Google Flights, punching in dates, destinations and budgets; looking at videos of flight reports on YouTube; making my own videos as well — my whole life revolved around flying,” he says.

Until the pandemic hit.

Nik Sennhauser (left) has been obsessive about airplanes since childhood — seen right here at Phuket airport in 1988.

SOPLANE

Sennhauser — who lives in Glasgow, Scotland, and used to fly each three weeks or so — hasn’t been on a aircraft since coming back from Japan in February 2020. (Sadly it was an evening flight, so his final aircraft meal was a wrap and a few breakfast.)

And though he is stopped all his different former hobbies — he finds it too tough to think about how issues had been, and of how they’re now — he has discovered a brand new one.

Every weekend, he scrolls by way of his photographs of previous flights, picks a meal he loved onboard, and recreates it from scratch.

So far, he is made all the things from tamagoyaki (a Japanese omelet) to Austrian spaetzle and Thai curries, recreating dishes from the likes of Lufthansa, Thai Airways, Austrian and ANA.

But this is not only a query of discovering and following a recipe on-line. Sennhauser additionally plates the dishes on real airline crockery, and presents it as a correct airplane meal.

A brand new lockdown expertise

It’s a time-consuming venture. Sennhauser has by no means been into cooking, he says — for starters, he would not have had time earlier than the pandemic.

And initially of lockdown, when individuals had been posting footage and movies of themselves having fun with pretend aircraft journeys, regardless of being a prolific poster of life on board, and selfies taken in aircraft bogs, he did not participate.

But then, he says, on week three of lockdown, “I was really bored and just did it,” making an airline-style meal, and posting a photograph.

He shortly discovered a group of individuals doing the identical factor — blogs asking readers to recreate their aircraft expertise, and folks posting photographs of themselves consuming off plastic trays.

“I thought, ‘Oh, lots of people are doing it. It’s not exciting anymore’,” he says. So he stopped it.

He spent the remainder of Scotland’s back-to-back lockdowns ignoring the aviation world. But someday in January 2021, due to a mix of “boredom, being stuck at home, and really missing traveling,” he determined to have one other go.

He already owned a real airline trolley, purchased on eBay together with airline crockery and cutlery: melamine plates, champagne flutes, retro financial system glasses, and china plates and low cups from numerous enterprise courses. Most of it’s purchased on-line — there is a main marketplace for it in Germany, he says — though he admits that, “In turbulence, the odd spoon here and there has slipped off the tray and fallen into my pocket.”

So on this chilly lockdown day in January, he opened up his trolley and acquired his plates out. “And I started plating again, just for fun.”

He began with a random airline-style breakfast: sausages with scrambled eggs, spinach, plus a pot of ham, cheese and gherkins.

Two months on, Sennhauser has a brand new pastime. He goes by way of his movies of previous flights to take a look at what he ate onboard, and recreates whole meals from begin to end. He’ll spend the weekend engaged on Sunday dinner, in addition to throwing a breakfast or brunch into the combo on Saturday or Sunday morning.

Nik Sennhauser recreates airline food at home

His meals are recreated from scratch, together with appetizers and sides.

SOPLANE

“The amazing thing about it is that I’ve actually become a better cook, because I had to go and research the recipes,” he says, gleefully.

“The meals aren’t just for Instagram to look nice; they have to taste good, as well, because they’re actually our Sunday meals, and I have to feed my husband. So it needs to be edible.

“So I truly needed to go and seek the advice of cookbooks and the web for all these recipes, and I’ve discovered to prepare dinner all these various things. And I’ve realized I’m fairly good at making desserts. I’ve made a bunch of mousses — chocolate mousse, white chocolate mousse, darkish chocolate mousse — and so they style a lot better than what you may get within the outlets. So it has been a little bit of a journey for me.”

Cooking the meals, he says, “helps me take care of my wanderlust”, and allows him to relive memories of great trips past.

His breakfasts and brunches are his own invention — mainly omelets and sausages, as you’d find on a plane.

But the dinners are full meals that he’s been served onboard in the past — not just the main course, but also the appetizers, sides and desserts.

The schnitzel that made a friendship

Although he’s traveled a lot in business class, thanks to a canny use of airline points, Sennhauser isn’t above recreating meals he’s had in economy.

One of his favorite recent meals is a recreation of an Austrian Airlines meal — travelers in economy can preorder a tray made by caterers Do&Co, featuring signature dishes including a wiener schnitzel.

“Having grown up in Austria, wiener schnitzel is considered one of my favourite dishes of all time, so I recreated that, together with a potato salad, cucumber salad and chocolate mousse,” he says.

When he makes a meal, he plates it on airline-appropriate crockery and posts pictures of the original, plus his recreation, on Instagram.

His fellow avgeeks are enthusiastic.

“They at all times say that mine appears to be like higher than the true deal,” he says. “But then, you recognize, I get to spend a complete day cooking this, plating it in my kitchen, whereas on a aircraft, within the galley, there’s solely a lot they’ll do, particularly in financial system class.”

But in the case of the Austrian Airlines schnitzel, Sennhauser realized that one crucial thing was missing: the signature triangular Austrian Airlines plate.

He posted his before and after photos explaining that he didn’t have the right plate — and then something wonderful happened. He received a message from another avgeek — David Pauritsch who runs channel Simply Aviation — offering him four of the Austrian plates as a present.

It meant that the next time Sennhauser came to make the meal, he could serve it as the real deal.

“It reveals how social media works,” says Sennhauser, who says that those triangular plates are now his favorite airline crockery.

“It brings individuals who have the identical pursuits collectively and permits you to do stuff like this, the place any individual in Vienna picks up a few plates, places them in a field, sends them off and so they arrive in Glasgow, the place any individual else can prepare dinner and plate meals from that flight, after which take an image and put it up on social media.”

It’s this sense of community that he’s been missing during lockdown — and he says that making the meals “provides me a function.”

“The meals has helped me to consider journey and the nice occasions I’ve had with out getting upset — there is a function now to go surfing, watch my previous movies and have a look at the previous footage. And it provides me pleasure throughout this time after I cannot journey. It’s helped me take care of it.”

Reliving a honeymoon flight

Some of the meals have reminded him of major life events. To celebrate five years since their honeymoon, last month Sennhauser recreated a meal from his honeymoon flight to New York.

He and husband Graham had flown on SWISS — “in enterprise class as a result of it was our honeymoon” — and were served spaetzle with beef stroganoff and a side salad, plus chocolate mousse with a raspberry coulis.

As he does with all his meals, Sennhauser created it all — right down to the spaetzle — from scratch, taking half a day to make it. “It was a pleasant strategy to rejoice our honeymoon anniversary,” he says.

The magic of airplane food

Of course, few people are as fond of plane food as this — in fact, for most travelers, it’s a running joke. But Sennhauser thinks that’s because most of us aren’t giving it a fair go.

“I believe individuals who hate it most likely have unrealistic expectations,” he says.

“You need to keep in mind that you just’re in a steel tube at 40,000 ft being catapulted by way of the air, and the flight attendant is heating up a meal in an oven — there’s solely a lot they’ll do. Also, I believe individuals do not prefer to be given simply two choices.

“People compare it to what they can get in a restaurant, but it’s a completely different species, plane food. There’s only so much you can do, and I think people are unrealistic of the circumstances.

“I’m not saying it is higher than what you may get on the bottom, in any respect — however in the event you keep in mind the quantity of labor and energy that goes into, it from the one who designs it to the to the staff that exams it, the cooks who prepare dinner it, the individuals who bundle it, wrap it up, put it within the trolley and onto the aircraft, the flight attendants who then take it out, put it within the oven and serve it with a smile.

“It’s a different beast to what you get in a restaurant, and I take that into account. I mean, most of the time it’s not as good as a restaurant, but you’re in a plane! And that’s what makes it magical.”

That stated, not all his experiences have been good. He picks out an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Chicago in 2012 as a low level — “it was just pasta with beef and tomato sauce that wasn’t very good at all — and all I remember about the rest of the flight is that I was very uncomfortable having eaten that meal” — however provides that “it’s probably not fair on them anymore because the airline was going through a rough time.”

And earlier than you assume he is a aircraft meals snob, he additionally mentions easyJet’s earlier catering as considered one of his favorites.

“I really liked a croque monsieur that they had, but then they changed the suppliers, I think. And yeah, it wasn’t good enough. But the original was ridiculous — it was fun to be able to look forward to flying easyJet.”

His common aircraft meals tip is to plump for the Asian possibility, if there may be one.

“Asian food works really well on a plane because it’s flavorsome by default. One of my favorite meals in economy is Thai Airways, because there’s always a curry. The best meal I had was on Singapore Airlines, and I had Singaporean chicken curry for breakfast.

“It got here in a large bowl with rice and candy bread rolls, and I couldn’t cease consuming. I actually wished I hadn’t stuffed my face beforehand within the lounge.”

And although he says a general rule of thumb is to never pick steak, a signature steak dish on SWISS business class he once had, was “not solely among the finest meals I’ve had on a aircraft, it was most likely the very best steak I’ve had in my life — tender, juicy and nonetheless uncommon inside, not rubbery and grey because it normally is on a aircraft.”

How to DIY airline meals

Sadly, Sennhauser doesn’t see post-pandemic plane food being quite as special.

“So a lot has modified over the previous 12 months with meals on planes clearly, due to restrictions and precautions. The pre-order meals, which had been at all times nice enjoyable to reap the benefits of, lots of them have disappeared as a result of not as many individuals are touring and airways have to chop prices.

“Austrian Airlines and Swiss have now cut their economy class meals on shorter flights and often scratch their pre-order meal service. So all the meals that I would always look forward to are actually not available anymore, which is very, very sad, but it’s understandable.”

He would not have any flights booked proper now, though he is determined to go to his mother and father in Thailand, who he hasn’t seen since 2019. But that journey apart, he says his perfect post-pandemic aircraft meals journey can be to Tokyo on ANA in enterprise class.

“I’ve seen pictures of their food in business and first class, and it’s just out of this world — we’ve flown twice with them in economy and the food was amazing.”

For now, there’s a complete group on-line, sharing his love of aircraft meals — he ideas Nik Loukas, who’s turned his love of aircraft meals right into a enterprise, Inflight Feed, as one to comply with.

Feeling impressed? Sennhauser suggests beginning with financial system class meals, and attempting a Thai curry.

“All you have to do is cook some rice and make a curry with curry paste, coconut milk and some meat. And you need a nice little dish to put it in, and there you go. The only issue is plating — I use a small spoon and do it very carefully, bit by bit. Don’t rush it — think it out beforehand, maybe even draw a little picture of how you want it to look.

“It takes me three to 4 hours making these meals, however with the restrictions there’s nowhere else to go so I’d as properly spend 4 hours within the kitchen and put out a banging meal.”



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