A collaboration between Montreal chef Antonio Park and Air Canada was announced July 31, 2019. Park will design meals for the airline’s international flights to Asia and South America.
Antonio Park, the talented Montreal chef who seems to put his heart and soul into whatever he does, whether it’s running his wildly popular restaurants Park and Lavanderia or curating an Instagram account with 116,000 followers, is aiming for the skies — with a new collaboration with Air Canada.The airline will announce a partnership on Wednesday with Park to design meals for passengers on its flights to Asia and South America. His menu will be rolled out starting Thursday with meals on flights between Montreal and Tokyo-Narita.“Where does your excitement start on a trip? it starts on the plane,” Park said in an interview this week.“Obviously, I am very proud that they chose someone from Montreal and very honoured and humbled to be able to represent the Montreal chef community.”Park joins the airline’s panel of Canadian culinary and wine talent: Vancouver-based David Hawksworth, who creates dishes for Air Canada business-class flights worldwide, Gatineau-based sommelière Véronique Rivest, and Vancouver-based chef Vikram Vij, who has been designing a menu for the airline’s Vancouver and Toronto to India flights since 2016.Food, along with in-flight entertainment, are important to Air Canada customers, Andrew Yiu, vice-president, product, at Air Canada, said in an interview. “We were looking for another chef to add to our panel — and we started to look in Montreal to help us accomplish this.”He said they liked “the overall story of Antonio Park,” who was born to Korean parents in Argentina, raised in South America, trained in Japan and who owns “one of the best Japanese restaurants in Montreal.”In a bio for Food Network Canada when he was named one of the judges on Chopped Canada, Park called himself “a Latino with kimchee in his blood who is seriously in love with sashimi.” He speaks six languages, including Korean and Japanese.“We really wanted to create that wow factor,” Yiu said. “What Antonio is known for is his flavours and the way he brings together spices and flavours.” And a meal with flavour is especially important in the air: “You lose 20 per cent of your taste buds when you fly,” he said.“Creating the food is the fun part, the exciting part for me,” Park said. The meals themselves will be prepared by Air Canada caterers and the challenge for him was developing recipes that will remain consistent over thousands of meals, he said.For the Japanese flight, he focused on Canadian ingredients and Japanese techniques. “I want the experience of visiting another country to start on the plane.”In business class the meal will begin with an appetizer of Japanese/Canadian chirashi; ebi shrimp; smoked Canadian salmon; Park-spiced Albacore tuna from British Columbia; homemade tamago, a kind of Japanese omelette; cucumber and shallot ponzu salsa. It will be served with an assortment of side dishes in small vessels, including a salad of green papaya, French shallots, carrots, daikon, mango and cilantro with Japanese plum dressing; fried sweet potato with roasted pistachio, almond and walnuts; a sweet potato roulade, and miso soup.The main course will be a tamari and maple syrup-braised short ribs with shiitake mushrooms, braised daikon, potatoes, onions and ginger.
A main course of tamari and maple syrup-braised short ribs with shiitake mushrooms, braised daikon, potatoes, onions and ginger created by Montreal chef Antonio Park. Photo: Air Canada
The dish to be served before landing in business class is a Japanese beef kare raisu — a curry — on a bed of quinoa, brown rice and wild rice, with carrots, potatoes and sweet onion. For passengers in premium economy and economy, the meal served before landing will be of deconstructed onigiri — a Japanese food made from white rice and often wrapped in nori — with chicken, Napa cabbage and shiitake mushrooms and a yakiniku sauce.A trial flight to Tokyo-Narita with Park’s menus received “excellent feedback,” Yiu said, with 80 to 90 per cent of passengers opting for his options.By spring 2020, menus designed by Park will be among those offered on all Air Canada’s Asian routes. He will also create recipes for a Montreal to Buenos Aires flight starting in December and flights to other South American destinations from Toronto to begin in 2020.On the Montreal to Narita run, dishes by Park will be available to passengers in business, premium economy and economy. For the other destinations, his recipes will be available only in business class, Yiu firstname.lastname@example.orgRelated