Moi accepted without batting an eyelash the invitation of Singapore Airlines’ marketing manager Rita Dy to join 36 other media people in checking out the food and beverage innovations of Singapore Airlines.
We were all booked at the newly renovated Pan Pacific Hotel on Claymore Road, in the middle of Orchard Road, which has, would you believe, a mineral-water swimming pool.
First we had a customized series of tours of airline operations guided by Annabel Tan and Jill Ng. Then we had our tour of the food and beverage operations guided by Maggie Lim.
Different kitchens whipping different cuisines cater to 50,000 passengers a day. The cuisines cater to the specific countries where Singapore Airlines have destinations, dahlings.
We appreciated the process of ensuring quality standards to fulfill rules of hygiene and safety.
We found out the altitude affects one’s taste buds. So food processing and meals must take into consideration the altitude.
At the Training Kitchen, airline food and beverage manager Hermann Freidanck said the common notion that airline food is bad is a fallacy. “Airline food is not bad! It’s the airline that’s bad,” he said.
We moved on to the economy-class meals in the Western Kitchen. Here, he explained, “The food one gets is the exact portion of the tray.”
“We put great importance in quality standard, making sure everything is fresh,” Freidanck said. “We at SIA are proud to say that we do not serve cold food for our economy-class passengers, including the 6,000 omelettes we serve on our flights every day.”
We watched chefs going through the menus in different sections, before they were cooked by the kitchen staff and presented for approval by the master chef.
We made a stop at the Masize Blower tunnel that disinfects one’s body. All the dry items placed onboard an SIA flight must go through this area. This again is a measure to ensure hygiene.
What we witnessed was an intricate and painstaking process that over 1,500 employees in the Singapore Airport Terminal Services building undertake to ensure the best meals during flights, dahlings.
Later, we attended the book launching of Singapore Airlines’ chef Sam Leong’s “The Book the Cook,” after which we had a delectable lunch.
Leong was named the Chef of the Year at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards. He’s the chef and co-owner of Forest at Singapore Resorts World Sentosa. He’s known for his grasp of classic Singaporean Chinese cooking, making use of Asian and Western ingredients, and for his eye-popping presentation.
“It’s the freshness, the look and taste of what you are serving that are the key notes of what pleasurable dining is about,” Leong told us.
For appetizers, we had Seared Japanese Tuna with Sesame Sauce; Thai King Prawn with Green Mango Salad; and Scallops with Conpoy Chinese-style.
For soup, served was Cream of Potimarron and Mushroom Soup.
The main course we ate: Stuffed Morel with Chicken Mousse, Sautéed Wild Mushroom with Crushed Pink Peppercorn and Chives.
For dessert, we had White Chocolate Mousse layered with Almond Sponge, Chocolate Sacher Cake, Swiss Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Raspberry Coulis.
Later we visited a cabin mockup where airline hostesses and stewards were trained.
We found out that the outfits of the airline stewardesses and stewards were designed by Givenchy.
At the makeup room, we learned that experts determine which color would go with a trainee’s skin tone. They also gave instructions on the proper hairstyles.
“When the training is over, and they become regulars, men and women are kept at the right weight; and they are [enjoined] to be well-groomed at all times,” said the instructress. “We emphasize the use of moisturizers before they go onboard, and they are urged to drink less water while airborne, to prevent their body from bloating.”
Trainees also undergo a wine workshop.
Later, at SIA’s commercial supplies division, we attended “Walking with the Masters,” SIA’s in-flight wine-selection event featuring three of the airline’s wine consultants.
Steven Spurrier is the author of the best-selling “Guide to French Wines” and winner of the Prix de L’Academie Internationale de Vin.
Jeannie Cho Lee is a wine critic and said to be the first Asian to be awarded the Master of Wine title. She won the Vinitaly Award in 2009 and holds a Certificat de Cuisine from Cordon Bleu and her love for food and wine inspired her to found AsianPalate.com, a site that celebrates the confluence of Asian foods and wines.
Michael Hill-Smith is the first Australian to pass the rigorous “Master of Wine” examination; he was awarded the Madame Bollinger Tasting Medal for his “outstanding wine-tasting skills.”
These three world-class wine-tasting and pairing masters make up Singapore Airlines’ prestigious panel of wine consultants; they are tasked with the selection of all wines served on SIA flights.