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Molecular gastronomy: Fiji Airways' new in-flight menu reaches new Pacific heights

Fiji Airways has launched its inaugural in-flight Business Class menu from multi-award-winning chef Richard Cross, taking the airline’s mile-high dining to new heights. Just reading about it is making us hungry.

Fiji Airways has launched its inaugural in-flight Business Class menu from multi-award-winning chef Richard Cross, taking the airline’s mile-high dining to new heights. Just reading about it is making us hungry.

Available onboard all Fiji Airways international flights, the debut Business Class menu from renowned Kiwi-Fijian Chef Richard Cross offers fine-dining techniques at 35,000 feet.

A highlight of the new in-flight dessert menu includes the signature kava and cinnamon ice cream and cookies and cream banoffee parfait with bittersweet chocolate panna cotta.

A new menu cycle will launch every quarter with Molecular gastronomy and house-smoked produce set to feature on upcoming menus.

Grilled tiger prawn cutlets with sriracha mayo and crispy noodles on a caramelised pineapple bed

What on earth is Molecular gastronomy, we hear you ask?

Molecular gastronomy is apparently “a cross between cooking and science, using scientific experimentation to deconstruct food to its simplest elements, only to reconstruct it in new and unexpected ways.”

“Those who delve into it are in part mad scientists and gourmet chefs, but the best molecular gastronomy chefs are those that find the perfect balance between flavour and artistry without neglecting the showmanship that comes with this type of cooking. The premise is exploration, expanding the boundaries of food by using a scientific approach to cooking.”

Fiji Airways’ part mad scientist and gourmet Executive Chef Richard Cross explains, “Airline catering has its challenges, but I’m looking to change that. My vision is to use cooking and presentation techniques like dehydrated vegetable garnishes, molecular gastronomy, and house-smoked produce that you would expect to see in fine dining restaurants and serve them 35,000 feet in the air.”

Business Class on Fiji Airways Airbus A350

Business Class passengers can now enjoy gourmet meals such as grilled tiger prawn cutlets with sriracha mayo and crispy noodles on a caramelised pineapple bed, grilled aged tenderloin in a creamy peppercorn sauce and mashed potato, herb-crusted chicken breast stuffed with feta and creamy spinach, mash potato, broccoli and grilled carrot ribbonettes.

Modern cooking and preservation techniques have been used to showcase indigenous vegetables in a new light and transform the likes of cassava, sweet potato (yellow kumala), dalo and plantain banana into edible garnishes you’d expect to enjoy in a fine-dining restaurant.

Fiji Airways’ Executive Chef, Richard Cross

Cross will also be introducing house-smoked local produce as a regular feature on the airline’s Business Class menu, including smoked walu fish and smoked beef tenderloin. 

Passengers will be treated to dessert and salad dishes in bowls resembling a tanoa, traditionally used to prepare the ritual drink of kava.

Fiji Airways also utilises eco-friendly Food For Thought packaging, particularly in Economy Class, which will save up to half a million litres of water a year and remove up to two tonnes of plastics annually from onboard.

Cross’ inspiration derives from his 28 years of experience as Executive Chef at various international luxury resorts and his wealth of travel across America, Europe, the Maldives and Australia.

After living in Fiji for over nine years, Cross likes to champion local Fijian ingredients in creative ways and also draws on his Kiwi heritage with the inclusion of ingredients such as lamb and seafood, as well as inspiration from the classic Kiwi BBQ.

Grilled aged tenderloin in a creamy peppercorn sauce and mashed potato

And he has big ambitions for the airline. “I like to stay ahead of the curve and experiment with new ideas, so I am really excited to be able to implement a range of innovative techniques across our Business Class service,” says Cross.

Cross was appointed Executive Chef of Fiji Airways in December 2021 to oversee all catering functions of the airline. Cross’ previous roles include Executive Chef at luxury resorts such as JA Resorts & Hotels in the Maldives, Sheraton Hong Kong, Vomo Island Resort, Radisson Blu Resort and Mana Island Resort in Fiji, Millbrook Resort Queenstown New Zealand, amongst others.

He also runs regular workshops in the airline’s Aviation Academy in Nadi, Fiji, providing hands-on training for the crew to ensure they can confidently execute the new techniques. He is also working directly with the crew onboard to guarantee the finest quality is implemented across all flights.

Business Class on Fiji Airways Airbus A350

Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO Andre Viljoen stated, “Chef Cross and his team have created an in-flight dining experience for our Business Class guests that is equal parts phenomenal and uniquely Fijian.

“Our new menu is one of the dozens of ways we plan to wow our guests when we welcome them home to Fiji – our returning flyers will love the fresh additions and new guests will certainly get the taste of Fiji they’re looking for.”

Are you planning a trip to Fiji? Australians can fly with the national airline for just AUD$559 per person in economy and from AUD$1,841 per person in business class.

Fiji Airways operates twice-daily flights from Sydney, five flights per week from Melbourne and five flights per week from Brisbane to Nadi, Fiji.

Fiji Airways is also offering exclusive package holidays via fijiairways.com