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Salad bowl with Egg, Red Quinoa, Fennel, Kale & Corn Salad, Smoked Almonds


Functional Plant-Based Foods for the Airline Lounge

At Sodexo, our Global Airline Lounge culinary teams are committed to the health and wellbeing of the guests we serve, and our culinary teams work hard to ensure that our menus provide specific nutrients to prepare the body for and speed its recovery from flight. Read on to discover how three of our chefs incorporate these benefits into delicious and innovative offerings using plant-based foods.

Targeting Specific Needs

Research tells us that air travel, especially on long-haul flights, takes a toll on the body and heightens dehydration, inflammation and morei.  

Chef Glynn Laurence portraitUnderstanding how plant-based foods alleviate such challenges, we carefully select the right foods for inclusion in clients’ lounges
notes Glynn Lawrence, Sodexo’s Airline Lounges Global Executive Chef. 

In the UK and Ireland, for example, Sodexo is using blueberries and kale for their anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting qualities. “Globally, we’ve homed in on three functional categories: low-sodium, hydrating and gut-friendly.” 
“We menu low-sodium options for several reasons,” remarks Joe Polanco, Culinary Director for Delta Sky Clubs. “Travelers can lose one-third of their taste buds during flight. We need to have foods with a strong flavor profile, but they can’t contain too much salt because it will cause bloating due to the pressurization of the planes. Using spices and other preparation techniques, we impart deeper flavors into the foods travelers need before and after their flights.”ii

From a functional perspective, water-dense foods hydrate more effectively than most liquids. “Watermelon and cucumbers, for example, allow travelers to hydrate without drinking water,” notes Scott Keats, Chief Culinarian, Airline Lounges North America. In addition, Sodexo is also deploying more gut-friendly foods in lounges. “Travelers need to digest their food properly, and pickled and vinegar-based foods help prepare the body for flight.”

Matching Lounge Visitors’ Commitments

Premium air travelers expect their lounge experiences to reflect their own identities and values; for many, sustainability commitments and beliefs about health and well-being lead to their embracing vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diets. “Guests can expect to see more plant-based ingredients featured in our clients’ global airline lounges,” declares Keats. “It’s important to us to menu the right, trending items—not only the ones that we can source responsibly, but those that positively impact the health and well-being of today’s travelers and align with their personal commitments.”

Implementing Innovation

As plant-based dining continues to gain momentum, Sodexo is staying ahead of the curve. “We know that individuals realize the health benefits of plant-based eating. In fact,” says Lawrence, “as we continue expanding our global footprint, we know that countries in which we will soon operate are encouraging individuals to consume meat only a few times per week. Of course, we consider the cost perspective of menuing plant-based items versus meat as well. We’ve started featuring more tempeh (a plant-based protein made from fermented soybeans), tofu and seitan—basing our items on extensive research of local restaurants while knowing that we can source these products at the right cost.” 

Sodexo also assumes the role of educating its clients’ guests, highlighting key components and ingredients from our plant-based menus, like jackfruit. Educating travelers about how the potassium found in jackfruit aids in rehydration validates our unwavering commitment to their health and exemplifies the continuous deployment of trends, best practices and innovations in food and beverage that are crucial to guest loyalty.

Learn more about Sodexo’s commitment to plant-based dining for a Better Tomorrow. 

Training is key to Sodexo’s implementation strategy. “[In the UK and Ireland, for example], we host briefing meetings to educate our front- and back-of-house teams on the new foods and beverages we serve,” says Lawrence, who notes that this practice will carry on as plant-based items proliferate in airline lounges. “Our one-on-one training with small groups covers recipe specifications, allergen information and how to make the dish. The communication strategy better equips our teams to respond to lounge guests’ needs. Ultimately, we go beyond sharing nutrient profiles; we engage with travelers, connecting them to the foods they desire and the right options for their well-being.” 

Moving Forward, Together

Coupled with nutrition and wellness research, conversations between the culinary teams and your premium lounge guests allow Sodexo to continue aligning our offerings with what frequent business users want today. The more profound our understanding of guests’ needs, the more we can continue deploying innovative, tailor-made menu offerings and staying on the leading edge of culinary innovation in support of all those we proudly serve.

To learn more about how Sodexo can help you meet modern travelers’ needs with innovative food and beverage options for your airline lounge.

i Deutsche Welle, “Lufthansa investigates the science of airline food.” 15 Oct 2010. Web. Accessed 7 Oct 2019. https://p.dw.com/p/Peiy
ii Katz, Brooke Porter, “It’s Not Just You: Why Everyone Gets Gassy and Bloated on Airplanes.” www.thepointsguy.com 13 August 2013. Web. Accessed 7 Oct 2019.  https://thepointsguy.com/guide/its-not-just-you-why-everyone-gets-gassy-and-bloated-on-airplanes/

November 05, 2019

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Lynn Knight, Global Head of Business Development Airline Lounges


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