One of the first observations that ever struck me about Level 8 Private Dining was the meticulous detail and labor intensive work found within their canapé selection. Its rare in the U.S. private aviation landscape to find a Chef and team that truly understands what a canapé is, or rather what it isn’t.
First lets break down what exactly is a canapé, because if you order canapés among different caterers, you are bound to end up with very broad spectrum of what that particular Chef interprets as a canapé.
Technically, they should be 1-2 bites in size, and a true palate opener of taste. They are to stimulate the taste buds with acid, sweetness, umami, or spice so that the mouth is awakened and tantalized to the sensation of flavor for the meal that is to come.
In my opinion, a canapé should not require a fork or knife, and even more so, the true masters of canapé creation make the vessel itself edible and complimentary to it’s compounding flavors. No plastic verrines here, please and thank you.
Although these bites are small, they are super labor intensive to create. From the conception of an idea to implementation alone is a challenge, but there is one more obstacle to throw into the mix for any Chef providing canapés to an inflight dining experience
“Will it travel well? Will it hold up? Can a Flight Attendant re-assemble this promptly and swiftly?”.
As you can probably gather by now, its not an easy feat to conceptualize and deliver an ever-rotating roster of delicious palate openers.
So why do we do it? Why is it important to serve canapés?
….Well let me explain why they are my secret weapon with the #FlightessPhilosophy
Every Flight Attendant can relate to the heart-pounding-pressure induced service flow of your onboard guest’s meal. It can be nerve-wracking to ensure that the flow of your dining experience is executed perfectly. You’re balancing oven-cooking times, a microwave, setting up for a formal dinner table in the cabin, refilling drinks, performing wine service, all while ensuring your galley doesn’t look like a bomb just exploded. There are so many pieces to this puzzle and each one has to be executed with precision and the utmost finesse and grace.
From the time you set your tablecloth, forks, knives, napkins, butter, and condiments; your guests are waiting. They’re ready to eat, and the sight of their table being set without any food to accompany it only exacerbates their hunger more. It’s a critical time for the Flight Attendant in the galley to act with haste in getting the first course out.
This is where the true art of the canapé comes into play.
I never list my canapés on the menu for the guests to see. I want them to be completely and totally surprised by a small serving tray emerging from the galley with bite size, beautiful canapés for them to enjoy while I slip back into the galley with ease to continue preparing their first course.
It is truly the art of distraction.
Not only does it create the sensation of a Michelin styled meal where the 5-star Chef sends out an unexpected amuse bouche to each table, but it creates a threshold of time for you as the Flight Attendant to then take a breath, and thoroughly plate and prepare your first course. It not only sets the tone, but also the pace for the experience you are wielding for your guests.
ProTip: If you know your passengers flavor preferences of dishes they have eaten and enjoyed in the past, work alongside the chefs at Level 8 Private Dining. They are some of the most creative minds in the Inflight Private Dining scene and can create a bespoke canapé made especially for your guests palate.
You see, the distraction you provide with your surprise canapé course sets the rhythm, the pulse if you will, to the overall flow of your service. It may only be an extra 2-4 minutes of buffer time but try sitting in silence for 3 minutes alone. It is indeed a sweet little pocket of seconds! Enough time for you to get a few steps ahead in your galley.
Boom. Game changer.
Try implementing this on your next flight, and watch how your service transforms. The best Flight Attendants in the industry are also, among many other skills, masters in the art of distraction.
Want an easy to assemble and DIY Canapé? These Siljan cups are my favorite!
This article was originally written in collaboration with Level 8 Private Dining and appears here.