Japan's largest airline, ANA, has just announced the addition of two renowned master chefs to its “THE CONNOISSEURS” program: Takeshi Kikuchi, Head Chef of TOKYO SHIBA TOFUYA UKAI, and PATINA Restaurant Group Founder and Executive Chef Joachim Splichal. This brings the total lineup of THE CONNOISSEURS to 22 members.
December will also mark the expansion of desserts overseen by Pierre Hermé Paris. Offered seasonally on a limited number of flights, the desserts will now be offered year-round on a steadily rising range of flights including those from Narita and Haneda to Singapore. ANA first launched THE CONNOISSEURS in 2013 to empower globally-acclaimed chefs and other celebrated professionals to produce outstanding cuisine and beverages exclusively for meals in ANA lounges and on its international flights departing from Japan. Over the past three years, these exceptional menu choices have consistently earned stellar marks from passengers both in Japan and around the world.
Both Takeshi and Joachim are prominent specialists in their field who have collaborated with ANA to produce brilliant in-flight dining on the airline’s flights originating from overseas destinations. Takeshi Kikuchi, has an established career in Japanese cuisine, and assumed his current role as Head Chef at TOKYO SHIBA TOFUYA UKAI in 2016. The restaurant is known for fastidiously crafted homemade tofu and seasonal flavors served in elegant private rooms or traditional tatami-mat space steeped in the ambience of Edo (Old Tokyo). In addition to manifesting his stupendous culinary skills, Takeshi is also driven by the desire to expand the joys of cutting-edge Japanese gastronomy to overseas markets. From December 2016 to February 2017, passengers on ANA Business Class flights from Japan to the United States and Europe can enjoy TOFUYA UKAI specialties such as “deep fried lily bulb and maitake mushroom tofu dressed in snow crab kudzu sauce” – a fusion of soft and flaky lily bulbs with crisp maitake, and “tosui tofu” – a tofu tour de force prepared to savor with a special soup concocted from soybean milk.
Chef Joachim Splichal forged his reputation as the top chef at a noted restaurant in the south of France, and relocated to the United States in 1981. Since opening the PATINA flagship in Los Angeles 1989, he has struck a commanding presence as the Group’s Executive Chef, expanding to 50 specialty restaurants concentrated on the West Coast, and its devoted patrons including a long list of Hollywood stars, politicians and other celebrity gourmands. In 2002, Joachim was recognized as a legendary chef by Bon Appetit magazine, epitomized by his coveted selection as “Restaurant Owner of the Year,” and has been nicknamed the “King of California Cuisine.” From March to May 2017 ANA will serve an international cuisine menu produced by Joachim on its Business Class flights departing Japan to the United States and Europe.
ANA takes pride in its distinction as the only Japanese airline to earn five-stars, the highest rating in the commercial aviation field. ANA has continued to achieve this honor for four consecutive years, thanks to its innovation on initiatives such as THE CONNOISSEURS to constantly improve services for its passengers.