Today, Aeroflot and the Russian Restaurant Festival have held the first High Flyers culinary competition to develop a menu for the airline’s business- and comfort-class menus. Held at the Chefshows by Novikov culinary school, the contest was a pilot project – part of Aeroflot’s future bigger one aimed at discovering new names in gastronomy to boost the carrier’s in-flight catering.
Following a preliminary selection from dozens of applicants, eight chefs from five cities – Moscow, St Petersburg, Sochi, Novosibirsk and Vladivostok – competed in the final. Each participant was to prepare three hot meals for Aeroflot business class passengers including a fish dish, a vegetarian dish and a final dish of either meat or poultry.
Recipes had to comply with a recommended list of products and requirements for on-board catering. The results were evaluated by a professional jury, including restauranteurs Boris Zarkov and Ilya Tyutenkov, culinary critics Alexander Ilyin and Svetlana Kesoyan, and Russian Restaurant Festival organiser Alexander Susov. The jury blind-tasted each of the dishes, which were identified only by numbers and did not indicate the name of the chef. Dishes were assessed for taste and appearance on a ten-point scale, with the winner determined by the highest number of points scored over the three dishes.
Top prize went to Evgeny Vikentev, head chef at Wine Cabinet and Hamlet + Jacks in St Petersburg. Second place was awarded to Igor Grishechkin, also from St Petersburg and head chef at COCOCO. Third place was awarded to Vitaly Istomin, head chef at Technikum in Moscow.
The overall winner won two business-class tickets from Moscow to any destination served by Aeroflot. Second place prize was one business-class ticket from Moscow to any city in Russia or Europe. Third place prize was one economy-class ticket from Moscow to Russia or to Europe.
Aeroflot became the first airline in Russia to receive 4-Star airline status for the quality of its service from Skytrax, the authoritative global ratings agency. Aeroflot has repeatedly been named one of the world’s top airlines for on-board catering, ranked in the top 10 by US travel magazine Global Traveller. In June, Aeroflot won two categories of High Taste awards by Business Traveller Russia/CIS.
Internationally acclaimed chefs, including Michelin-starred ones, have traditionally participated in developing Aeroflot’s menu. The airline is now enhancing its pursuit of new and creative ideas from new Russian talents.
“The first Russian Restaurant Festival revealed that gastronomy is robustly developing in the regions,” said festival founder Alexander Sysoev, marketing director at Afisha Restaurants. “Chefs from all cities demonstrated a very high level of skill, and more and more new names are appearing every year. We are pleased that Aeroflot has entrusted us to develop High Flyers, which we believe will help talented chefs express themselves in Russia and globally.”