AS SENIOR MANAGER of food and beverage design and executive chef for United Airlines, Gerry McLoughlin ensures all the culinary options on the carrier taste exceptional, even at 35,000 feet, including those served on the airline’s recently launched Polaris business-class concept. Unique touches in the new premium cabin include chef-designed menus, tempting snack options available throughout the flight and an enticing variety of desserts. Mimosa and Bloody Mary carts will delight passengers on morning flights.
McLoughlin followed completion of his culinary degree with a five-year apprenticeship at Dublin’s iconic The Shelbourne hotel. McLoughlin’s more than 30 years of culinary management experience also took him to Chicago’s well-known The Drake hotel and The Metropolitan Club. As a member of the American Culinary Federation, McLoughlin oversees worldwide menu development for United Airlines.
United Airlines is also the official airline of The Trotter Project, working with Trotter alumni to develop exciting menus for flights. The Trotter Project unites budding talent in the culinary arts and hospitality industries through a variety of mentorship programs.
WHICH DESTINATIONS INSPIRED YOU, AND HOW HAS THAT INSPIRATION TRANSLATED INTO YOUR COOKING/MENUS?
One of the best aspects about my job is I have the opportunity to travel the world and taste the cuisines and flavors of the destinations we fly from. Each destination brings new aspects to the table — quite literally — and I enjoy working with the team to incorporate these great new flavors in the onboard menu.
WHOM DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR CULINARY HERO?
My mother — my first culinary experience was at her apron strings. Her passion was to cook with fresh ingredients and the flavors that resonate from them guided me to search for new ingredients to cook with at home and in the air.
WHAT ONE PERSON MOST INFLUENCED YOUR COOKING STYLE, AND HOW?
Chef Charlie Trotter; I can honestly tell you the best meal I’ve ever had was at his restaurant. He took pride in breaking the status quo and was extremely adventurous in his cuisine.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD CITY?
Hong Kong blends the flavors of East and West with a combination of amazing European foods with the diversity of some absolutely fantastic street food. It’s a beautiful blend of cultures.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEXT BIG TREND ON THE FOOD SCENE WILL BE?
People are really moving more toward handheld items they can enjoy on the go — real food with bold flavors where they can broaden their cultural and culinary horizons.
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