Review: American Airlines Flagship Business In-Flight Dining – The New James Beard Menus

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“I’m truly humbled to be the first chef chosen to bring this collaboration between the James Beard Foundation and American Airlines to life,” Grueneberg said in a statement announcing the partnership.


On the first evening flight to London from New York with the new menus, the service began once we hit our cruising altitude of 36,000’.  American introduced the option for passengers to preorder entrees in first- and business-class cabins back in 2012 but I had changed my flight several times so I ordered from the printed menu.

The meal started off with a lovely appetizer of Cajun grilled shrimp, accompanied by harissa aioli, broccoli slaw, and pea shoots.  While the shrimp were just ok, the slaw was something to write home about and I would have gladly bought it to have at home.

The salad was an unusual combination of mixed greens, faro, blueberry, and oven-dried tomato.  I must admit I didn’t expect to like the blueberries in a salad setting but, surprisingly, I did.

For a main course, I had a choice of seared red snapper accompanied by white wine risotto; spinach and ricotta chasse rotolo pasta served with pomodoro sauce, basil pesto, and pignoli; a charcuterie platter; and my selection, barbecuechicken breast with hatch chile mac ‘n’ cheese, barbecue sauce, and fried spinach.

To say this dish was extremely satisfying would be an understatement.  The chicken was flavorful and moist, the barbecue sauce rich and zesty, and the mac ‘n’ cheese had the right combination of cheeses and spice.

Grueneberg says that the dishes she designed for the flight “channel the classic Italian approach to cooking by focusing on simplicity, great flavors and quality ingredients” and I believe that she hit that mark if not exceeding it.


The foundation is a non-profit culinary arts organization named in honor of James Beard, who was known as the “Dean of American Cookery.” The foundation offers scholarships to aspiring chefs, operates the James Beard Awards, and organizes guest chef dinners.

As a result, American is tapping into a pipeline of chefs that, one may only hope, will continue to yield interesting and extremely satisfying in-flight menus, if Grueneberg’s is anything to go by.

This should be great diversity to in-flight menus as well as a variety of sustainable practices and should give American an edge up in the menu wars as airlines compete for premium passengers.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)


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