I adore Donal Skehan. We met years ago when we were part of a very small band of food bloggers in Ireland (back when everyone knew each other and there weren’t thousands of bloggers, blah blah). He went on to create a hugely popular YouTube channel and make incredible cooking shows for RTE and the Good Food Channel, as well as hosting Saturday Kitchen, and now lives in LA full time with gorgeous Sofie and his adorable son Noah where he’s a TV presenter. He’s also got a brand new cookbook out called Donal’s Meals in Minutes. All this obviously makes me feel like a massive underachiever, but I’ve followed his success over the years and we’ve kept in touch but never actually met, so I was delighted when Donal and Virgin Atlantic invited me to London yesterday to unveil their new project. Read on to find out how you can dine with Donal on your next Virgin Atlantic flight!
Donal has been secretly working with the team from Virgin Atlantic over the last year to totally shake up in-flight dining, creating a gorgeous range of new dishes that’s going to completely transform your next meal at 38,000 feet! I chatted to Donal about the challenges of creating dishes, which, surprisingly have taken him on a massive journey of discovery – from researching how in-flight meals are created, to the challenges of how flying alters your taste buds (it dulls your taste receptors, so food needs to be especially flavoursome).
I even got the chance to chat with candle chandler and fragrance expert Rachel Vosper, creator of Virgin Atlantic’s bespoke fragrance, AIR, which you’ll experience everywhere on your Virgin flight – from check in to boarding.
I was delighted to find that all the dishes are light, fresh and healthy with plenty of flavour and all of them have been created with sustainable sourced fish, meat and vegetables. Dan Kerzner from Virgin told me that their aim is to always be one step ahead and be the airline that doesn’t serve ‘airline food’. In fact, in another first, Virgin has been working with the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) to introduce the world’s first framework to address the challenges of sustainable in-flight catering.
Initially, you’ll find Donal’s new creations in the Upper Class cabin, and we tried a few of the new dishes, inspired by his travels around the globe. The roasted squash starter is delicious, with sweet, slow roasted squash combined with salad leaves and served with a zingy, chilli-laced lime dressing. I also tried the charred cod with spicy mango salad and a nam jim dressing. The cod has a dried spice rub which adds a ton of flavour and the accompanying cucumber and mango salad features a dressing that’s sweet, sour and spicy all at the same time. There’s also a delicious dish with chicken thighs and a soft, creamy baked feta that’s a total game changer.
As well as getting the opportunity to dine with Donal on your next Virgin Atlantic flight, you’ll be able to sample Donal’s new dishes in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (look out for the sweet and spicy chorizo, fennel and tomato stew). Ooh and don’t forget you can now experience Master Pâtissier Eric Lanlard’s heavenly “Mile High Tea” at the Clubhouses and all the cabins onboard too.
So, if you’re lucky enough to be flying Upper, or visiting the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses, you’ll be able to dine with Donal on your next Virgin Atlantic flight, but don’t worry, Donal’s creations will be available in Premium and Economy cabins next year.