- Posted April 28, 2014 by
Best Airport Restaurants Around The World
The world's gastronomic masters are now using airports for their new restaurant openings.
Heston Blumenthal is the latest big name chef to open an air hub establishment.
The Perfectionist's Café will open at London Heathrow Airport's Terminal 2 on June 4.
While Blumenthal is best known for molecular gastronomy, his new diner with a wood-fired oven makes it the first British airport kitchen with an open flame.
Fire safety and security are just two major hurdles for the potential airport restaurateur.
Gas can't be used in the kitchens in most airports, food suppliers have to go through security clearance and perhaps most daunting of all, customers sometimes have as little 15 minutes to spend on the meal.
Blumenthal isn't the first culinary superstar to take on the challenge.
Gordon Ramsay opened Plane Food at Heathrow's Terminal 5 in 2008, Spain's Carles Gaig has a modern Catalan joint at Barcelona-El Prat and in North America, Los Angeles International and Toronto Pearson International are just two restaurants that have attracted restaurants from local celebrity cooks.
More people, more stomachs
Air travel has roughly doubled since 2003, with the International Civil Aviation Authority reporting that airlines served 3.1 billion passengers in 2013 compared with 1.6 billion a decade ago.
Airports are an integral part of that experience now, moving away from being mere gateways.
"It's what the airport environment does to you," says Heathrow Airport's head of food and beverage Ben Crowley.
"Eighty percent of our flights are long haul, which means the bulk of the passengers are on a big trip and therefore in the mood for an indulgence."
Advances in kitchen technology mean the no-gas policy is not the obstacle it once was.
"Electric heat is far better than what it used to be 10 years ago," says Sophie Mitchell, executive chef of London's Pont St restaurant and one of the four British celebrity chefs who have collaborated to open The Gorgeous Kitchen, an upmarket restaurant at Heathrow's Terminal 2.
"You just have to think about different ways to add flavor and cook quickly. For example, you can get good caramelization with a heavy-bottomed saucepan on induction hobs, which now have quick reactions and reach high temperatures."
A greater range of food suppliers are now authorized by airports, too.
"We're able to use ingredients from artisanal suppliers -- previously only the big suppliers were able to get through," Mitchell says.
Still, there are additional expenses -- airport restaurants pay higher staff wages to persuade employees away from central locales.
Not a bad way to spend a delay.
Not a bad way to spend a delay.
They also tend to serve smaller parties than city restaurants and diners typically spend less.
"Though individual table checks are lower than on the high street, an airport restaurant gets much more exposure, with millions of people passing by every year," says Sebastian Rotteveel, creator of The Gorgeous Kitchen concept and senior director of marketing at hospitality company HMSHost International.