Delta in-flight menu

Image via Delta Air Lines

APEX Insight: Renowned LA chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo explain the process of adapting their iconic recipes for Delta One’s in-flight menu.

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo

Image via Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines has tapped two of Los Angeles’ most popular chefs to ramp up its in-flight grub game. Delta One business-class passengers flying from Los Angeles International Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport or Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport will discover that partners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (of Los Angeles restaurants including Animal, Son of a Gun and Jon & Vinny’s) are Delta’s latest chefs in the sky.

“It’s such an amazing time to be involved with Delta,” Shook and Dotolo told APEX Media. “They’re really looking to evolve their food program and putting customer satisfaction at the forefront of their priorities. They’ve allowed us the freedom to try some really great things with the menu offerings and we’re excited to be able to offer new menus ever few months.”

Shook and Dotolo’s first menu arrived on December 1, 2017, and features “local, seasonal ingredients sourced from LA-area farmers and purveyors,” including main courses of marinara braised meatballs or pumpkin ravioli and a dessert of Tamai Farms strawberry bread pudding. The menu will change over every three to four months as the chefs’ collaboration with Delta evolves.

“They’ve allowed us the freedom to try some really great things with the menu offerings.” – Chefs Jon Shook & Vinny Dotolo

It wasn’t easy for the award-winning cooking duo to come up with their initial menus, having never before created food to be eaten at 30,000 feet: “We felt really strongly about meeting Delta’s standards as well as our own…Creating a menu for the air comes along with a variety of requirements and restrictions that must be met. So there was definitely a learning curve there,” the duo admits.

It didn’t take too much tweaking to make their iconic dishes work in the air, but it did take a lot of planning. “Our dishes already boast pretty bold flavors,” they explained. “But we needed to make sure that this food could withstand the process from initial creation to the final moment, when the customer is enjoying the meal. That means the food has to be made, cooked, brought through the airport facility, onto the aircraft and then heated and served. We needed to ensure that the food we served could stand up to this test from both a quality and presentation perspective. It took a lot of time and lot of testing to figure this out, but we are very happy with the final product.”

So is Delta, as their so-called farm-to-tray-table approach to mile-high food is really taking off. “The Delta culinary model is built around creating authenticity by partnering with chefs and their teams to actually source, prepare and cook the meals – and then deliver them to Delta to board,” says the airline’s vice-president, On-Board Service, Lisa Bauer. “That, coupled with the chefs’ connections to the food community and their ability to source local, fresh ingredients and support those businesses, is what sets Delta and our chef partners apart.”