The Gate Gourmet test kitchen at Zurich Airport was buzzing with activity on 20 November. The team of cooks had less than 24 hours to put the finishing touches on preparations for the unprecedented project known as “SWISS meets Caminada”. On 21 November the aircraft operating flight LX16 to New York was converted into an airborne pop-up restaurant in which Switzerland’s current leading chef, Andreas Caminada (3 Michelin stars, 19 Gault Millau points), treated guests to meals from the menu at his Schloss Schauenstein restaurant in the canton of Graubünden. As a chef with a sterling reputation on the international culinary scene and an advocate of first-class ingredients and maximum quality, Caminada was the ideal partner for SWISS to offer guests a further culinary highlight in combination with the award-winning SWISS Taste of Switzerland concept, one that on this occasion ranked as truly exclusive.
Prior to the flight, the usual logistics were completely revamped. The full equipment for the return flight from New York to Zurich had to be sent in advance to New York, and every conceivable bit of space in the galley had to be found to accommodate the necessary gear. This meant, for example, doing without duty-free trolleys for once. Andreas Caminada, his ten-member team plus a ten-member team from Gate Gourmet were busy with pots and pans in the kitchen 24 hours before departure, roasting, baking, decorating and wrapping food.
An 11-course meal was prepared for First Class and a 10-course meal for Business Class, while special creations were added to the meal trays for guests in Economy Class. The team was still in action in the test kitchen at two o’clock in the morning on the date of departure. A brief period of rest was then granted. The passengers who began arriving at the gate just after eight o’clock on Friday morning had no idea that they were in for something special on LX 16 as the entire operation had been kept largely hush-hush until shortly before departure. They were therefore all the more astonished to learn that on this flight they would be enjoying dishes created by the star chef.
The first appetisers were served at the gate: quail’s eggs with smoked ham, marinated trout and breakfast cereals with yogurt from the house of Caminada. The special culinary service continued in First and Business Class prior to take-off. In these two cabins, the special service continued throughout the entire flight.
Behind the scenes, and especially in the two forward galleys, it was a case of all hands on deck throughout the eight-hour flight. The Caminada and SWISS crews were busy non-stop, without any chance for a break. Space was at a premium in the galleys at times, as every guest, the members of the media present and a film crew were all trying to sneak a peek “backstage”. The two teams combined to produce a masterful performance with a phenomenal result. Connoisseurs reported that, overall, the meals and service came close to matching the standards of a Michelin three-star restaurant. The guests showed responded with an appreciative round of applause. For everyone involved in making it happen and everyone on board as a passenger this was an unforgettable flight experience.