A New Taste Of the Islands

American Airlines calls on Hawaiian chef

By: Kenneth Shapiro

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Macadamia nut pancakes
It used to be that the vacation began for travelers the minute they stepped on the plane. These days, with all the headaches that can arise in transit, air travel is more often something to get over with before the real experience starts. Well, now American Airlines is attempting to start the vacation earlier by bringing a taste of the islands onboard for the journey literally. First-Class passengers on flights to and from Hawaii can enjoy the flavor of the Hawaiian Islands with new menu offerings created by renowned Hawaiian chef, restaurateur, author and TV host Sam Choy.

“Through the expertise of chef Sam Choy, American is providing a pleasant mix of authentic Hawaiian tastes to our passengers flying to and from the Islands,” said Lauri Curtis, American’s vice president of onboard service. “We believe they are in for a real treat with our new menu offerings.”

The new menu incorporates the many flavors of Hawaiian food, which is strongly influenced by the Pacific Rim, California and Europe. Selections will rotate monthly.

On a recent flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu I was able to try a couple of the new items.

The macadamia nut pancakes were fantastic, but the best part might have been the mouth-watering smell of mac nut and coconut syrup warming. Best of all is that it didn’t leave me stuffed and uncomfortable with three more hours to go before landing.

For dinner, I was able to sample the island braised short ribs. They were a big hit not just with me but with my fellow passengers as well. As far as I know, none of them were aware that it was a new menu, but I did overhear a few passengers marveling at how much better the food was on our flight than on other routes.

This is hardly surprising considering that Choy, a native of Hawaii, was recently named Hawaii’s official culinary ambassador. He is a four-time nominee for the coveted James Beard Best Pacific Regional Chef award and is the author of 10 top-selling cookbooks. He also hosts the TV show “Sam Choy’s Kitchen,” and has four restaurants that bear his name, including one in Tokyo and one in Guam.

“It is an honor working with American Airlines to bring a true taste of Hawaii to their in-flight meal program,” said Choy. “Hats off to American Airlines for making in-flight dining once again exciting!”

American Airlines offers regularly scheduled service to the following Hawaiian cities: Honolulu (HNL), from Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW); Kahului, Maui (OGG), from Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth; Lihue, Kauai (LIH), from Los Angeles; Kona (KOA), Big Island, from Los Angeles.



Macadamia nut pancakes: Silver-dollar pancakes topped with macadamia nuts and macadamia honey butter with coconut syrup on the side; served with a slice of grilled ham and seasonal tropical fruit.
Macadamia French toast: French toast stuffed with mascarpone cheese topped with macadamia nuts and pineapple papaya marmalade; served with seasonal tropical fruit.

Wasabi salmon: Grilled salmon topped with creamy wasabi, served warm with shiitake butter orzo.
Hibachi chicken: Teriyaki-glazed grilled chicken breast served over sweet potato mash.
Island braised short ribs: Tender short ribs topped with soy-ginger sauce and sauteed shiitake mushrooms, served with skin-on mashed potatoes.
Mixed green salads: Mixed mesclun greens topped with fresh vegetables and island garnishes. A choice of new salad dressings include miso cilantro, spicy oriental and ginger vinaigrette.

starters Tropical mixed nuts: American’s signature warmed mixed nuts with a Hawaiian flair.
Signature sundaes: Vanilla ice cream with a variety of toppings, including hot fudge, strawberry and a seasonal tropical topping such as mango or crushed pineapple.
Baked onboard cookies: White chocolate macadamia nut cookie.
(Note: Should passengers prefer a more traditional meal, a pasta dish is available for lunch and dinner, while cereal and fresh fruit are available for breakfast.)