This Airline Has More Than 4,000 Recipes in Its Vault and Grows Its Own Kale

Emirates' menus are as global as the destinations it flies to, with ingredients like tofu from Japan, chocolates from France, and curry paste from Thailand.

<p>Courtesy of Emirates</p>

Courtesy of Emirates

Juice, mocktail, or Champagne? Sparkling or still water? The meat, fish, or vegetable dish? How about some calming tea, like the Moroccan mint, before-turndown service? You know what? Why not all that and more? Because that's just the beginning of the choices served up to you on a literal silver platter onboard Emirates, which was just named the best airline for food and drinks in this year's Global Tastemakers awards.

Emirates has a longstanding history of excellence when it comes to dining, and not just by 35,000-foot standards. In July 2023, I boarded a long-haul trip from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lusaka, Zambia, with a quick layover at the airline's home base in Dubai. Even before I buckled my seatbelt, I was presented with the option of a complimentary glass of Champagne but opted to wait for a refreshing mocktail instead. (Don't worry, I got the Champagne on the second leg of my journey, which was later in the day). I went for the Virgin Cucumber Gimlet, which set up my tastebuds for the culinary journey to come in my Business Class seat. But it's not just those in the airline's more expensive seats that get to experience high-flying tastes.

In 2022, Emirates revealed its culinary team has created close to 4,600 recipes. Each year, more than 100 of them are put on rotation on its flights across all its cabin classes. And, in 2024, the airline announced it's adding more than 300 vegan dishes to its rotation to answer the growing demand for more plant-based foods. The menu now includes dishes like chickpea crepe stuffed with carrot, peppers, mushroom and tomato concasse, pumpkin frittata, and tofu tikka masala in Economy Class, jackfruit curry with basmati rice and squash chestnut stew in Premium, and roasted cauliflower with ancient grains in Business. Those lucky enough to fly the airline's ultra-luxe First Class can also dine on vegan specialties like creamy polenta cake with thyme mushroom ragout, aubergine curry with charred rice and turmeric potato, and desserts like rhubarb tempered with strawberry charlotte.

It's a menu that is truly as global as the destinations it flies to. The airline's culinary team sources items from across the globe, including Beyond Meat products out of California, tofu from Japan, chocolates from France, and curry paste from Thailand. Emirates sources plenty in Dubai where it’s based, too, like its locally grown kale and lettuce from Bustanica, the world’s largest hydroponic vertical farm, which the airline helped bring to life through a $40 million investment.

On my flight, I got to try all of the fresh veggies and sourced ingredients, kicking off with a hearty mezze plate, which came with an expertly rolled dolma alongside hummus and baba ghanouj. For my main, I went with the prawn biryani, made with spices and paired with slow-cooked rice, fried cashew nuts, raisins, and onions. And, as someone who will absolutely never forgo dessert, I dug into the chocolate truffle cake, a vegan treat made with hazelnuts and pistachios. It was all so excellent that I could have happily circled the airport for seconds. Luckily, I still had all the return flight meals to look forward tol.

Global Tastemakers is a celebration of the best culinary destinations in the U.S. and abroad. We asked more than 180 food and travel journalists to vote on their favorites, including restaurants and bars, cities, hotels, airports, airlines, and cruises. We then entrusted those results to an expert panel of judges to determine each category’s winners. In many categories, we’ve included a judge’s pick, hand-selected by our expert panel, to shout out more culinary destinations we don’t want our readers to miss. See all the winners at

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