How does that schnitzel you’re enjoying on your flight today actually get onto the aircraft? How is our multiple award-winning DO & CO catering planned, prepared, transported and then finally served? Today, we’re going to take you behind the scenes and show you how such delicacies get to know life above the clouds – and still taste as amazing as ever!
The Menu Plan: Which Dishes End Up Taking to the Air?
It takes a complex series of small steps to give a menu suggestion wings. Our product management team is responsible for planning and coordinating the menus, making it the touch point between DO & CO and ourselves. Also part of the team are the flight attendants. They are well aware of how the service on board works, they play a major role in developing and updating the loading process. The product management team and DO & CO collaborate skilfully to come up with a continuous line of new dishes, ensuring typically Austrian dishes and seasonal recipes and ingredients – including apricots, Martinigansl or traditionally-prepared goose, and most recently, Zwiebelrostbraten, or Viennese fried beef and onions in gravy – are all given a chance to take to the air.
Take a look behind the scenes: the menu options are changed once a week, in rotations of 8 rounds, on short-haul flights, and the menus are switched completely anything up to twice a year. On long-haul flights, the in-flight dishes are changed every 8-10 weeks.
Airworthiness: when is a dish judged ‘ready for take-off’?
Not every meal or dish is equally well-suited for a high-altitude flight! Thanks to its long years of experience, DO & CO knows exactly which combinations would not work well in the air, or could possibly be problematic when finally being prepared for serving on board. They know how to prepare any dish or meal ready for above the clouds. Our flying DO & CO chefs prepare anything from fried eggs and steak onto our passenger’s plate.
Before the creations are approved be served on regular routes, they have to overcome yet another hurdle, when our team tests how efficiently meals are prepared and served in a recreated aircraft cabin space used for training purposes. The new dishes are also put to the test under the more challenging conditions of a real flight. Once these steps have been completed successfully, the new menus are ready for departure!
Look behind the scenes: until the new dishes are airworthy, they are top secret!
Let’s cook! How the catering is prepared
Only the very freshest ingredients are ever used here, seven days a week, 365 days a year. To ensure in-flight dishes are perfectly juicy and fresh, the kitchens make use a process known as ‘cook and chill’. This involves the meat being seared quickly, giving it its beautiful colour, after which it is transferred to a convection oven and heated to core temperature. Once this temperature is reached, the meat is put straight into the chiller, where the product rapidly cools off. It then stays in the cooling chain on the aircraft, until the time comes for it to be served. All the meals and side dishes are portioned and packaged by hand at the production site.
Take a look behind the scenes: the dishes used in our Business Class are portioned in matching ceramic bowls straight away so they can be served more quickly on board.
Off to the airport
Using a series of clever steps, the DO & CO kitchens then prepare the dishes for transportation to the airport. In the course of this process, individual serving trays are loaded in such a way that crew need only add the main course for warming through once the flight is underway. The trays are loaded onto trolleys and supplied with the relevant flight data (date and flight number) to ensure the right trolleys are also then loaded onto the right aircraft.
Service above the clouds: just savour that flavour!
Eventually, the dishes take up into the air, and sooner or later, depending upon the destination and time zone, the delicious hot meals are served. Our flight attendants ensure passengers’ well-being on short-haul flights. On Business Class long-haul flights, meanwhile, flying chefs from DO & CO come into play, providing the optimum culinary care: taking their orders from Business Class passengers, the chefs put those all-important finishing touches to the dishes being prepared. The menu above the clouds includes soup, a range of different starters, three main courses to choose from, fresh pastries, dessert, a variety of cheeses, and a wide selection of alcohol-free drinks and Austrian wines.
Our Business Class catering has received multiple awards in recent years: in 2018, we won 1st Place in the Best Business Class On-board Catering category from Skytrax!
Another highlight of our Business Class service on long-haul flights is our Coffee House above the Clouds. This lets coffee lovers choose from ten typically Austrian specialities – including the Einspänner, Viennese iced coffee and melange – on their very own coffee menu.
Take a look behind the scenes: after every flight, flight attendants complete what are known as Cabin Voyage Reports. These also include feedback about the catering.
It’s not just in Business Class that you can look forward to culinary delights from DO & CO: all the dishes served on the route network departing from Vienna are prepared by chefs from DO & CO. And if you ever want to enjoy a very special menu in Economy Class too, you can select one of the delicacies from DO & CO à la carte and have it served to you in your seat.