When you take off for a well-earned break, there’s nothing quite like sinking into holiday mode as you settle in for your flight. And if you’ve flown with Emirates, you’d know that part of that sense of relaxation comes from their outstanding food and wine service.
To find out how Emirates manages to make their catering appear so seamless, we caught up with Joost Heymeijer, Senior Vice President for Emirates In Flight Catering.
Joost is a serious food and wine lover, having trained as a chef and a service professional and he has worked at Michelin starred restaurants throughout Europe. He has won awards for his dedication and has a photographic memory for most of the meals he has cooked and eaten and their accompanying wines.
Joost’s love of hospitality has taken him around the world and having worked in America, Europe and the UAE, he discovered a love for Australia when he was here for the 2000 Olympics and decided to stay. He eventually became naturalised and was appointed General Manager of Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, where he was tasked with its opening.
Since then, Joost has moved to Dubai, where he is driving his enormous team comprising 11,000 employees, who produce and serve an average of 225,000 meals a day, 110 million a year.
The emirates difference
“One of the largest distinctions when it comes to Emirates’ onboard experience,” Joost describes, “is the level of pride that goes into our selection, from beverages to food.”
Part of this process, he explains, involves the Inflight Catering team working with chefs from each destination Emirates travels to, so they can highlight the individual essence of each location.
As an example, he says, over the northern hemisphere summer months, “Sweet tooth travellers heading to India can indulge in the fresh flavours of the Alphonso mango, as we make it the star of the desserts in all our classes. While UK and Irish travellers will be able to sample an iconic Eton Mess, featuring beautiful seasonal strawberries.”
At other times of the year, the seasonal theme continues, Joost says. “Easter, Lunar New Year, Ramadan menus – our passengers really enjoy getting immersed in the spirit for each special moment.”
If you’re keen to see how all this culinary excellence comes together, Emirates has their own food and wine channel on their inflight entertainment system, ice. As Joost explains, “This provides passengers with an inside look into the creation of our renowned culinary strategy, as well as with recipes so customers can have something to take away from their journey.”
With over seven million bottles of wine in the Emirates private wine cellar, there are plenty of options for wine-loving passengers, too.
As Joost describes, “Each month, Emirates’ wine procurement team takes part in a tasting process to ensure that our selection onboard is suited to each Cabin Class and destination route.
To reduce their environmental footprint, Emirates has also pledged to eliminate their inflight plastic consumption, starting with the introduction of paper straws and the replacement of plastic swizzle sticks and stirrers by the end of 2019.
So next time you fly with Emirates, you’ll know that Joost has personally ensured that the quality is exceptional. As he says, “As someone who loves to create experiences around cuisine, I get a lot of satisfaction out of crafting menus and catering options to suit all the classes across our vast network.”