Qantas was threatening to remove its famous steak sandwich from its first-class menu, but its high-flying customers wouldn’t have a bar of being denied their favourite in-flight tucker.
They kicked up such a stink the airline that their pleas couldn’t be ignored.
“The steak sandwich was promptly reinstated to the menu, where it remains a firm favourite today,” the airline relates in its recap of the past two decades of in-flight dining.
As it celebrates the 20th anniversary of its culinary union with Rockpool chef Neil Perry, Qantas names the Rockpool signature steak sandwich with tomato relish as the hero of the partnership — the one constant of Qantas’ First Class in-flight menu for the past 20 years.
Every year, Qantas serves up more than 600,000 of them.
The celebrity chef says employing the attitude that the customer is always right has been one of his keys to success during his time working alongside Qantas.
“Listening to customer feedback, engaging with the crew who prepare the menu in-flight and being sure to create dishes that use the best seasonal produce across each destination that Qantas flies to, are the three vital components to creating a successful menu each season,” Perry says.
Reflecting on the journey with Qantas, Perry notes how Aussies’ tastes have changed over the 20 years.
“Twenty years ago, we put tagine on the menu and had to call it Moroccan braised lamb, but now we use terms like baba ganoush and garam masala without thinking twice,” he says.
“Australians today are also incredibly food savvy — they understand what’s in season and love exploring food and wine regions around Australia and overseas. They expect to see great produce grown by passionate locals both in-flight and in our lounges.”
Qantas is marking the anniversary by bringing back some “blast from the past” menu items on both in-flight and lounge menus over the next six months.
Popular dishes of the past 20 years set to get a re-run include:
• Stir fried crab omelette with oyster sauce
• Korean style yellowfin tuna tartare with sesame dressing
• Lobster with XO sauce, lo mein noodles, bok choy and sesame seeds
• Grilled salmon with chilli, garlic, cherry tomatoes and squid ink noodles
• Chermoula lamb rack with vegetable tagine, couscous, harissa and coriander yoghurt
• Rockpool Bar & Grill style beef fillet with “mac and cheese” and green beans
• Spice Temple inspired caramel, chocolate and sesame ice cream sandwiches
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says Perry’s influence has become is an integral part of the Qantas experience.
“It’s impossible to imagine food and wine on Qantas without Neil’s influence, which shows you the way he’s made it his own over the past two decades,” Mr Joyce.
“We say that when you step on a Qantas flight overseas you’re already in Australia — and a Neil Perry meal is part of that experience.
“We love the passion and perfectionism that he brings to the job, but also the way he challenges us to experiment and evolve. Qantas has always worked with brilliant Australians, and Neil is well and truly part of the hall of fame.”