The person recreating airplane meals to get via lockdown

2021-04-08 16:18:05

(CNN) — A few of Nik Sennhauser’s earliest recollections are of longhaul flights — and of consuming on a aircraft.

“The primary time I received on a aircraft I used to be about 5 months previous,” he says.

“I grew up between Austria and Thailand, so I would be on a aircraft each two to 3 months or so.

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

“At dwelling, my mother must pressure me to eat stuff, however on a aircraft I’d simply eat no matter I used to be given. I keep in mind getting on the aircraft and searching ahead to the meals.”

With household all around the world — his mother and father in Thailand, his sisters in the US and Switzerland, and a brother in Spain — flying has all the time meant “dwelling” to him.

And so a Proustian connection was made. The little boy who was “fairly obsessive about aircraft meals” and flying grew up into a completely fledged “avgeek,” or aviation fan. A contract challenge supervisor and social media supervisor till final yr, he used his freedom to journey the world, retreating after flight, and posting movies of his expertise on YouTube.

“I used to spend all my free time on Google Flights, punching in dates, locations and budgets; movies of flight reviews on YouTube; making my very own movies as properly — my entire life revolved round flying,” he says.

Till the pandemic hit.

Nik Sennhauser recreates airline food at home

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


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 have been, and of how they’re now — he has discovered a brand new one.

Each weekend, he scrolls via his images of previous flights, picks a meal he loved onboard, and recreates it from scratch.

To date, he is made every little thing from tamagoyaki (a Japanese omelet) to Austrian spaetzle and Thai curries, recreating dishes from the likes of Lufthansa, Thai Airways, Austrian and ANA.

However 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 is a time-consuming challenge. Sennhauser has by no means been into cooking, he says — for starters, he would not have had time earlier than the pandemic.

And at the beginning of lockdown, when folks have 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.

However then, he says, on week three of lockdown, “I used to be actually bored and simply did it,” making an airline-style meal, and posting a photograph.

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

“I assumed, ‘Oh, a number of persons are doing it. It is not thrilling anymore’,” he says. So he stopped it.

He spent the remainder of Scotland’s back-to-back lockdowns ignoring the aviation world. However in the future in January 2021, due to a mix of “boredom, being caught at dwelling, and actually lacking touring,” 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 economic system glasses, and china plates and low cups from varied 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 right 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 received his plates out. “And I began plating once more, only for enjoyable.”

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 passion. He goes via his movies of previous flights to have a look at what he ate onboard, and recreates complete meals from begin to end. He’ll spend the weekend engaged on Sunday dinner, in addition to throwing a breakfast or brunch into the combination on Saturday or Sunday morning.

Nik Sennhauser recreates airline food at home

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


“The superb factor about it’s that I’ve truly develop into a greater prepare dinner, as a result of I needed to go and analysis the recipes,” he says, gleefully.

“The meals aren’t only for Instagram to look good; they must style good, as properly, as a result of they’re truly our Sunday meals, and I’ve to feed my husband. So it must 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 am fairly good at making desserts. I’ve made a bunch of mousses — chocolate mousse, white chocolate mousse, darkish chocolate mousse — they usually style a lot better than what you will get within the retailers. So it has been a little bit of a journey for me.”

Cooking the meals, he says, “helps me cope with my wanderlust”, and permits him to relive recollections of nice journeys previous.

His breakfasts and brunches are his personal invention — primarily omelets and sausages, as you’d discover on a aircraft.

However the dinners are full meals that he is been served onboard previously — not simply the primary course, but additionally the appetizers, sides and desserts.

The schnitzel that made a friendship

Though he is traveled quite a bit in enterprise class, due to a canny use of airline factors, Sennhauser is not above recreating meals he is had in economic system.

Certainly one of his favourite current meals is a recreation of an Austrian Airways meal — vacationers in economic system can preorder a tray made by caterers Do&Co, that includes signature dishes together with a wiener schnitzel.

“Having grown up in Austria, wiener schnitzel is certainly 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 footage of the unique, plus his recreation, on Instagram.

His fellow avgeeks are enthusiastic.

“They all the time say that mine appears higher than the actual deal,” he says. “However then, you understand, 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 will do, particularly in economic system class.”

However within the case of the Austrian Airways schnitzel, Sennhauser realized that one essential factor was lacking: the signature triangular Austrian Airways plate.

He posted his earlier than and after images explaining that he did not have the appropriate plate — after which one thing fantastic occurred. He obtained a message from one other avgeek — David Pauritsch who runs channel Merely Aviation — providing him 4 of the Austrian plates as a gift.

It meant that the following time Sennhauser got here to make the meal, he may serve it as the actual deal.

“It exhibits how social media works,” says Sennhauser, who says that these triangular plates are actually his favourite airline crockery.

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

It is this sense of neighborhood that he is been lacking throughout lockdown — and he says that making the meals “offers me a goal.”

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

Reliving a honeymoon flight

A number of the meals have reminded him of main life occasions. To have fun 5 years since their honeymoon, final 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 have been served spaetzle with beef stroganoff and a aspect salad, plus chocolate mousse with a raspberry coulis.

As he does with all his meals, Sennhauser created all of it — proper all the way down to the spaetzle — from scratch, taking half a day to make it. “It was a pleasant solution to have fun our honeymoon anniversary,” he says.

The magic of airplane meals

After all, few persons are as keen on aircraft meals as this — the truth is, for many vacationers, it is a operating joke. However Sennhauser thinks that is as a result of most of us aren’t giving it a good go.

“I feel individuals who hate it in all probability have unrealistic expectations,” he says.

“You need to take note of that you simply’re in a steel tube at 40,000 ft being catapulted via the air, and the flight attendant is heating up a meal in an oven — there’s solely a lot they will do. Additionally, I feel folks do not wish to be given simply two choices.

“Individuals examine it to what they will get in a restaurant, but it surely’s a very totally different species, aircraft meals. There’s solely a lot you are able to do, and I feel persons are unrealistic of the circumstances.

“I am not saying it is higher than what you will get on the bottom, in any respect — however in case you take note of the quantity of labor and energy that goes into, it from the one that designs it to the to the crew that checks it, the cooks who prepare dinner it, the individuals who package deal 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 is a totally different beast to what you get in a restaurant, and I take that into consideration. I imply, more often than not it is not so good as a restaurant, however you are in a aircraft! And that is what makes it magical.”

That mentioned, 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 simply pasta with beef and tomato sauce that wasn’t excellent in any respect — and all I keep in mind about the remainder of the flight is that I used to be very uncomfortable having eaten that meal” — however provides that “it is in all probability not truthful on them anymore as a result of the airline was going via a tough time.”

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

“I actually appreciated a croque monsieur that they’d, however then they modified the suppliers, I feel. And yeah, it wasn’t ok. However the unique was ridiculous — it was enjoyable to have the ability to look ahead to flying easyJet.”

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

“Asian meals works very well on a aircraft as a result of it is flavorsome by default. Certainly one of my favourite meals in economic system is Thai Airways, as a result of there’s all the time a curry. The very best meal I had was on Singapore Airways, and I had Singaporean hen curry for breakfast.

“It got here in an enormous 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 though he says a normal rule of thumb is to by no means choose steak, a signature steak dish on SWISS enterprise class he as soon as had, was “not solely probably the greatest meals I’ve had on a aircraft, it was in all probability the most effective steak I’ve had in my life — tender, juicy and nonetheless uncommon inside, not rubbery and grey because it often is on a aircraft.”

Easy methods to DIY airline meals

Sadly, Sennhauser does not see post-pandemic aircraft meals being fairly as particular.

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

“Austrian Airways and Swiss have now minimize their economic system class meals on shorter flights and sometimes scratch their pre-order meal service. So all of the meals that I might all the time look ahead to are literally not obtainable anymore, which may be very, very unhappy, but it surely’s comprehensible.”

He does 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. However that journey apart, he says his preferrred post-pandemic aircraft meals journey can be to Tokyo on ANA in enterprise class.

“I’ve seen footage of their meals in enterprise and first-class, and it is simply out of this world — we have flown twice with them in economic system and the meals was superb.”

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

Feeling impressed? Sennhauser suggests beginning with economic system class meals, and making an attempt a Thai curry.

“All it’s a must to do is prepare dinner some rice and make a curry with curry paste, coconut milk and a few meat. And also you want a pleasant little dish to place it in, and there you go. The one concern is plating — I take advantage of a small spoon and do it very fastidiously, little by little. Do not rush it — assume it out beforehand, perhaps even draw a bit of image of the way you need 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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