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Crumbed Margra lamb cutlets with broccolini, brussels sprouts and lemon myrtle celeriac puree

Our national airline has just unveiled swanky new meals in its cabins. JON UNDERWOOD looks at whether the Flying Kangaroo has the recipe for success.

IT USED to provide a staple diet for comedians worldwide, who would dine out on horror stories about airline food.

I mean, who doesn’t love a good joke about food poisoning at 40,000 feet?

Yes, airline food used to be mostly terrible – as plastic as the tray it was served on. The words “chicken or fish” were more a guessing game than an actual product description.

Fortunately – and like the giant metal beasts that carry them – airline meals have come a long way. Fine dining and flying are now on the same menu.

Qantas has just announced a multi-million-dollar investment introducing new dishes and larger portions across all cabins, using high-quality ingredients from premium Australian producers.

It is the single biggest investment in Qantas inflight and lounge dining in a decade and covers regional, domestic and international networks.

Traveltalk was invited along to Qantas HQ to sample some of the new fare and can report that your taste buds will be ready for take-off.

In first, you’ll get to munch on Calvisius caviar, Tasmanian smoked salmon, Queensland spanner crab and seared Glacier 51 toothfish. Business class will chow down on Korean fried Bannockburn chicken, seared snapper with black bean sauce and dark chocolate cream with hazelnut cake.

Premium economy guests will enjoy new dishes including salmon with tomato fennel sauce, red quinoa and brown rice, and braised lamb shank with red wine mushroom sauce and potato puree.

Economy fliers can choose from cajun prawns with spiced rice, Korean chilli and garlic chicken with kimchi and black pepper beef with oyster mushrooms.

Some may find this difficult to stomach but there are those who believe airline food can actually be a way to promote a country to the rest of the world.

“We put upon our own shoulders this responsibility to take the best of Australia to the rest of the world. And what better way to do that with a captive audience on an aircraft?” said Philip Capps, Qantas Executive Manager, Product and Service.

“We want them to really understand what fantastic produce Australia has.”

The new menu items have been overseen by Neil Perry, who has been working with the airline for 25 years and is the company’s Creative Director of Food, Beverage and Service.

“We are spoilt for choice in Australia when it comes to being able to source top quality food from fantastic Australian producers, and together with generous servings and great service, these are the key ingredients to creating an enjoyable meal,” he said.

“We cook onboard, we don’t just reheat, which is really important. And the crew wouldn’t have it any other way because they realise how much our customers love it.”