Breaking Bread with ...

Jimma Canora sheds some light on cooking at 35,000 feet.

Oct 10, 2007

5. OK -- what's Robert De Niro (Tribeca Grill co-owner) like? Ha!

Bob is a genius! He is not only an actor, producer, director, real estate mogul and restauratuer, he is a visionary among many other talents. He hardly gets a free moment in his life, and when he does, he prefers to be left alone with his family, very private. Can you blame him?

6. How did you get involved with Continental Airlines and the Congress of Chefs? What's the group's goal and why is it important to you?

Chef Don Pintabona was their Celebrity Chef before me, and I went many times with Don to menu creation and development at Continental's headquarters in Houston. After Don moved on from Tribeca Grill, they naturally gave me the title. The congress's goal is to provide the best possible product that we can to our clients, and it is important to me because the Airline trusts my judgments, decisions, and ideas, and really respects and appreciates our input.

7. We only saw a glimpse on Top Chef into what goes into creating reputable "plane food," What does it really take? How's it changing?

It takes a lot of planning and skill to serve "quality food" on a large scale on any vessel ( boat, train), but especially in the air. You have a small budget (in coach class), small storage space, small ovens, and a lot of room for mistakes from the time the food leaves the catering kitchen until the time it is served. Our food service staff are highly trained professionals, and more importantly, our flight attendants are highly trained and take much pride in the food they plate, especially in the first class cabin. It is the flight attendant that can overcook or undercook your meal once it is on the plane, so in the end, they make all the difference in it's presentation and appeal. They do a really great job.

8. What do you wish people knew about plane food? That a lot of time, money, and thought goes into the process of what food will actually work at 35,000 feet, (like for instance, nothing fried), and that we are constantly evaluating and changing our food to keep our menus current with the trends and to satisfy our clients tastes depending on the domestic or international destination we are flying to.