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South African Airways brings restaurant-quality gourmet cuisine to the skies

South African Airways (SAA) is celebrating two new awards and the announcement of its new on-board catering partner, DO & CO Event and Airline Catering Ltd. serving restaurant-quality gourmet meals to customers.  The national carrier for South Africa has announced the launch of new on-board menus in both Business and Economy cabins on all flights from London Heathrow to Johannesburg, serving a selection of high quality international inspired dishes and South African award-winning wines.

SAA has also this week been ranked in the top ten in the World’s Best Business Class Airline Catering at the 2014 Skytrax World Airline Awards. SAA is the only African carrier to achieve this ranking, and the only carrier flying directly between London and Johannesburg to achieve a top ten status.  

SAA Business and Economy customers travelling from London can look forward to experiencing gourmet restaurant cuisine. All meals are handmade from the freshest, locally sourced ingredients, along with a hand-picked selection of award-winning South African wine pairings. Menus will be kept fresh and inspiring with a seasonal quarterly rotation.  

New dishes on offer for Business customers include fresh Loch Fyne Scottish Smoked Salmon, Grilled Cod (MSC approved) from the North Atlantic served with saffron velouté, baby carrots, and mushy peas, or freshly prepared handmade Truffle Tortellini with grilled artichoke and parmesan. For dessert, there’s a choice to please any sweet tooth, including Mango Panna Cotta, Avocado Chocolate Mouse, and Passion Fruit Tiramisu.  

Economy customers can enjoy meals such as Viennese Paprika Chicken with homemade buttered Spätzle and broccoli or Rigatoni with a Rosemary Sauce, rocket and tomato salad, sprinkled with parmesan, followed by a delicious carrot and banana cake with cheese and crackers.  

The new menus will be supported by an award-winning South African wine list, including Spice Route Sauvignon Blanc 2013, and Franschhoek Cellars Old Museum Merlot 2012.  

Selecting the food and wine to be served at 30,000 feet is not an easy task as our palette differs on the ground to what it is in the air. Bongi Sodladla, SAA’s Senior Food and Beverage Manager & Sommelier manages this diligent process by carefully selecting wines which work with the food being served.  The airline receive over a thousand wine entries, which together with the SAA sommelier and independent wine connoisseurs are all tasted over three days, assessed and given a score.  

She says, ‘I assess the ability of the food and the wine to maintain flavour and shine even at 30,000 feet, as our taste buds may be dulled by up to 30% when flying. We taste over 300 wines each day, for three days and rate them out of 100. Only the very best wines from South Africa finally make it on board, with a selection of 60 wines on a monthly rotation. These are the ones with bold flavours that complement the vibrant and delicious menu offerings that adequately reflect our cosmopolitan airline. The new meals must be really captivating and well-crafted in order to delight our customers travelling for both business and leisure purposes.’    

Gary Kershaw, General Manager for SAA UK commented, ‘At SAA, we are always striving to better our customer experience. This past week has seen SAA recognised by Skytrax, winning the award for Best African Airline for the 12th year in a row, as well as being ranked in the top ten for Best Business Class Airline Catering in the World.  This recognition demonstrates our excellent product experience on-board and now looking to the future, we are very excited to be working with Do & Co for providing our customers with a gourmet on-board food experience. We’re exceptionally proud to be able to offer both our Business and our Economy passengers the very best gourmet culinary experience during their journey to Southern Africa.’  

SAA operates the first direct flight of the day from Heathrow to Johannesburg and has built an outstanding reputation for punctuality, winning the Flight Stats Award for the Most on Time Airline in the World twice during 2013.  

The airline, a Star Alliance member, operates double daily flights from Heathrow Terminal 1 (T2 from 22nd October 2014) to Johannesburg and connects to the largest network of destinations within Southern Africa.

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