The schnitzel was thin, crispy and juicy but not heavy considering it is a fried piece of meat. Tart lilikoi (passion fruit) juice was drizzled – a Hawaiian twist on the lemon slice – and the acid balances the dish.
Schnitzel is not my favorite, but this time I cleared my plate.
This dish is available when traveling first class on select Hawaiian Airlines flights from Hawaii to the mainland from now through the end of May during their lunch or dinner service.
These include flights from Hawaii to Papeete, Boston, New York and the West Coast. This menu can also be found on flights from Honolulu to Austin.
When you fly first class on Hawaiian Airlines, you can sample a local chef’s recipe with the airline’s Featured Chef Series. It’s the airline’s way of showcasing local talent, but also making it look like you’re dining at a Hawaiian restaurant while in the air.
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The other meal option is just as good. The risotto is inspired by a creamy Venetian dish called risi e bisi – which translates to rice and peas – and is a more velvety version of the classic risotto. Also loaded with zucchini, this risi e bisi is light (thanks the lemon zest) and creamy, topped with a dollop of basil macadamia nut pesto.
The dishes are accompanied by an appetizer salad composed of a roasted garlic vinaigrette and a butter roll. For dessert, passengers receive an opera cake prepared by fellow Hawaiian chef, Michelle Karr-Ueoka, and La Tour Café.
These two dishes are the creation of Robynne Maii, owner and chef of the Fête Hawaii restaurant in the heart of downtown Honolulu. Maii is one of a handful of celebrity chefs tapped by Hawaiian Airlines to help create their in-flight menus.
“The Featured Chef Series is a perfect way to share with guests some of what Hawaii and Hawaiian Airlines are all about – authentic experiences representative of our unique and flavorful island culture,” said Renee Awana, general manager of product development at Hawaiian Airlines. , said.
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Who is Chef Robynne Maii?
Maii, who was born and raised in Honolulu, is a chef who shatters glass ceilings with her locally sourced food.
“I think we were just raised to eat delicious food, that’s how we do things here (in Hawaii),” she said.
After living and working in New York for about 15 years, Maii and her husband returned in Hawaii to open their own restaurant. She felt New York’s restaurants lacked the hospitality she craved.
“We found ourselves having more fun at home and thinking maybe we could do that,” she said. “We wanted to create a restaurant where we wanted to eat.”
Although her farm-to-table menu looks simple at first glance, she said, “It’s all in the details.”
In June, Maii won the 2022 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northwest & Pacific. Not only was she the first Hawaiian chef or restaurant to win in nearly 20 years, she was also the first female chef and woman of Hawaiian ancestry to win.
Maii said she “always treats” the award and receives “accolades with a good sense of seriousness and humility.”
“Even more, we believe that we should maintain a standard and contribute to the community,” she said.
How was the Hawaiian Airlines First Class menu created?
Maii has worked with Hawaiian Airlines since 2018 when she ran their office cafe called Lunchbox until the pandemic. This is the second time she has created an in-flight menu for the airline. “It’s amazing to be part of this family, it’s a growing family but still feels super local, super small,” she said. “It’s something we’re really proud of.”
The in-flight menu took him two full days in the kitchen, testing taste and adjusting recipes. “It’s hard to make pre-prepared, airline-reheated meals,” she said.
She had to consider factors such as what would hold up well, what ingredients were readily available, and what could be created on a large scale. Schnitzel, she says, is “delicious cold, delicious hot.” She used chicken as the protein instead of veal because “chicken is easy, palatable.”
She also thought about people’s diets – risotto, for example, is vegetarian and gluten-free.
First class customers order their meals once on the flight.
In the main cabin, passengers also enjoy a free meal during brunch or lunch service. Although not created by Maii, depending on the flight, it could be a ham and cheese bagel roll, pasta tortellini with creamy tomato sauce, or a hoagie with turkey, Swiss cheese and spinach.
Whether in or out of restaurants, Maii said people often say to her, “We just got back in first class, and it’s delicious.”
Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at email@example.com.