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Fine dining in the sky |


Fine dining in the sky

RENDEZVOUs - Christine Dayrit - The Philippine Star
Fine dining in the sky
At the 82nd anniversary celebration, PAL launches a special Anniversary Menu that elevates the overall flight experience of passengers: (from left) PAL senior vice president and general counsel Atty. Carlu Fernandez, vice president for marketing Ria Carrion-Domingo, chef Vallerie Archer-Castillo, president and COO Capt. Stanley K. Ng, vice president for corporate affairs Josen Perez De Tagle, assistant vice president for brands Howard Uyking, and manager for corporate marketing Fernand Yoshio Yoshida.
Photos courtesy of Philippine Airlines

As a film aficionado, one memorable film for me is Up in the Air because it’s about an American executive, Ryan Bingham, who flies around the country with a goal to accumulate 10 million frequent flyer miles.

Enjoying the luxurious first-class or business-class service — these privileges are what a lot of us aspire to experience. Exquisite cuisine and free-flowing wine, personalized service and many other customized perks await the fortunate traveler.

This film came to mind when I received the invite to the launch of Philippine Airlines’ 82nd-anniversary menu served in a festive celebration.

Honestly, more often than not, airplane food’s reputation is not too favorable for a number of reasons: the way the food itself is prepared and stored, the environment in which it is served onboard, and the flight conditions all combine to affect the way the meals taste.

However, with the introduction of the newly curated meals for the 82nd-anniversary menu of our national carrier, Philippine Airlines, little did I know that this perception was about to radically and pleasantly change.

This March, business-class passengers traveling from Manila to North America and Australia will be treated to delicious discoveries that meld local and global culinary inspirations with a distinctly Filipino brand of service.

PAL’s newly appointed corporate chef and head of catering operations Vallerie Castillo-Archer and PAL’s professional catering team put together the anniversary menu, which is an artistic expression of the best of Filipino food and hospitality. The menu will reflect her Ilocano roots and groundbreaking stint as the first Filipino-American executive chef of Yamashiro, an iconic Hollywood restaurant in Los Angeles.

Our media group had the privilege of sampling the newly curated menu serving gourmet cuisine, which is an amazing collaboration between PAL and chef Vallerie. As the Philippines’ sole full-service airline, PAL masterminds a complex operation of catering teams and partnerships. This is the latest development in a continuing drive to whip up new creations to spice up PAL’s inflight menu offerings all year round.

Prior to the anniversary menu media banquet, PAL also organized a rare inflight center tour, which showcased their amazing and impressive state-of-the-art equipment and facility for high standards of food preparation for inflight services.

PAL celebrates 82 years with a redefined in-flight dining experience of delectable creations. “As a Filipino-American chef, it is my pleasure to enable passengers from all over the world to get a taste of Filipino flavors and renowned hospitality,” said chef Vallerie.

Capturing the taste of home is the delicious vegan cauliflower adobo with string beans and garlic rice.

At the anniversary banquet, we enjoyed a sumptuous smorgasbord of dishes like beet-cured salmon on toasts garnished with fish roe and gold leaf, succulent tiger prawn sinigang, tuna tataki salad, miso sea bass, tender filet mignon, truffle mac and cheese, and the very innovative Ilocano cauliflower adobo.

For a sweet ending, we had curated desserts, a cheese plate of herbed kesong puti, mango chèvre, and gouda with dried apricots and almonds.

Travel Update’s Divine and Buddy Recio raved about the tapsilog bowl with boiled egg and garlic fried rice. JC Lo of Fine Dining Club Philippines and I liked the miso sea bass with potato puree and adlai champorado with crispy dulong and cream.

After the dinner, I can proudly say that PAL serves delicious, innovative cuisine. In fact, it is among the best inflight cuisines.

Charming chef Vallerie takes pride in creating nostalgic Filipino dishes from childhood, like sinigang, adobo, and champorado, which reminds passengers — especially balikbayans — of home.

Choice champagne, white and red wines, liquor, beer, cocktails and juices are beverages to look forward to as well. She also announced that PAL has its own patisserie and passengers will be able to savor different products like bread, cakes and pastries.

In retrospect, PAL has also had collaborations with other excellent chefs recently, like JP Anglo and Tina Legarda. To launch his special collaboration with PAL, chef JP flew from Manila to Los Angeles and prepared his signature dishes like chicken inasal and bangus ala pobre.

I was fortunate to have tried the cuisine of chef Tina, who prepared heirloom-inspired home-cooked meals like Crab Mie Goreng, Boeuf Short Ribs and Banana Budino Trifle that gave a sense of nostalgia that reflected both her Filipino and Spanish roots. Her recipes are heavily inspired by her family's repertoire and extensive professional training in Italian, French and Asian cooking under renowned culinary experts here and abroad.

It was mouthwatering to witness such delicious changes that creatively modify and improve PAL’s services. Gracious Ria Domingo, PAL vice president of marketing, said that “this collaboration with Filipino culinary experts will showcase food for the global community.”

These partnerships with the country’s premier chefs support PAL's thrust to become a more customer-centric brand that upholds the highest standards of service, safety, and security to travelers.

PAL’s dynamic COO, Capt. Stanley K. Ng, shared the exciting developments and new changes in the dining menu, not only for business-class passengers but for economy class as well. He said that passengers like overseas Filipino workers can also expect delectable cuisine innovations on their inflight menu.

He concluded that chef Vallerie and PAL operate with the same mission in mind: to create a remarkable experience and provide a unique, "very Filipino" service to all PAL’s customers: “We invite more and more travelers from all over the world to fly on our direct flights to and from the Philippines. Drawing from chef Vallerie’s innate passion and global experience, our expert catering team will ignite positive developments that will bring new delights to our customers’ overall flight experience.”

I left the event with happy memories of a delightful new menu. With excitement in my heart and a satiated appetite, I looked forward to my next trip on PAL to North America and Australia and confirmed my goal to elevate my PAL Mabuhay Frequent Flyer miles status.

“Travel now” ought to be our motto. Many years from now, we will be held responsible not just for the destinations we took but for those that we did not. Remember, it’s not just enough to travel but how we travel that counts.

See you “up in the air.” Aboard Philippine Airlines, dining has never been so good.

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