It’s no secret that airline food is terrible, even though we are often told it’s developed by top chefs. It’s also no secret that takeaways are generally bad for you; so what makes new startup ‘Epic’ think they're any better, and if they are can they change perceptions?
After 6 months of beta testing under the guise of meal.fi, where they collected vital information about the meals that worked and those that didn’t, epic.fi launched earlier this week. With a fleet of 5 biogas cars and a daily menu of three meals - a warm option, a salad and a soup, and these choices also encompassing a daily gluten free, lactose free and vegetarian option - they have the majority of Helsinki, Finland covered. As well as having a list of daily clients, they also load enough onto the cars to honour incoming orders, that can be delivered faster by assigning the nearest car.
Arriving in branded biodegradable packaging and packed and prepared by the chefs each morning, the offering has the distinct look and feel of airline food. In fact, like many airlines, Epic have commissioned award winning chefs to develop the dishes. Marko Laine, team leader of the Finnish Bocuse d'Or team, with stints at Restaurant Savoy, Palace Gourmet and Kämp along with Petteri Luoto, Internationally acclaimed chef and former Finnish Chef of the year have created a modern, attractive and well balanced range of meals; but so did Heston Blumenthal for British Airways.
A lesser known fact however, is that when wonderful culinary creations are propelled 35,000ft in the air, something strange happens. The Fraunhofer Institute, a German research organisation in association with Lufthansa, conducted tests where food was consumed at sea level and at 35,000ft in a pressurised cabin; what they found was very interesting. A combination of cool air, cabin pressure and altitude has serious consequences for the tastebuds: they are effectively numbed as if you have a cold. Perception of salts and sweetness was also found to be reduced by up to 30 per cent at high altitude. Which can only lead us to the conclusion that before airline food leaves the ground, it’s often potentially award winning.
Now Epic’s cars are fantastic, but luckily for us they can't fly, and unless you work in an extremely tall building, the chances are these dishes - from a menu put together by chefs of such high calibre - are going to taste pretty amazing. They may well be the healthy, well-balanced option you're looking for. This is certainly no Saturday night takeaway, and 35,000ft away from airline food.