Airline Holds Cooking Competition to Find New Chef

PHOTO: George Mendes attends New York Taste A World of FlavorsBrian Ach/Getty Images
George Mendes attends New York Taste A World of Flavors at Skylight SOHO, Nov. 7, 2011 in New York City.

If you thought airline food had become, well, an afterthough, think again. Delta Air Lines is partnering with Food & Wine magazine on an original culinary competition video series, called "The Cabin Pressure Cook Off," to find its newest chef.

The winning chef will consult with Delta on menus for flights departing Atlanta.

Four former Food & Wine Best New Chefs winners will compete:

Hugh Acheson of Empire State South in Atlanta and Five & Ten and The National in Athens, Ga.

Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch Public House in Atlanta.

Kelly English of Restaurant Iris and The Second Line in Memphis, Tenn., and Kelly English Steakhouse in St. Louis.

George Mendes of ALDEA in New York..

Not every airline takes in-flight food so seriously. Click here to see photos of the World's Worst Airline Meals.

The four-episode series will launch in October, airing on Delta's in-flight entertainment, and The new chef will join Delta's culinary team, which includes Michelle Bernstein, Michael Chiarello, and master sommelier Andrea Robinson.

"We have been very focused on culinary design and the manner in which we provide more than 110,000 sophisticated, tasty meals each day on our flights around the world. This opportunity allows us to try something truly unique," Joanne Smith, Delta's senior vice president – In-Flight Service said.

The Cabin Pressure Cook Off will feature "culinary challenges" and will be filmed at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York.

Television personality Jackie Tranchida will serve as the host, and judges include Bernstein, Robinson, Union Square Hospitality executives David Swinghamer and Mark Maynard, and Food & Wine Publisher Christina Grdovic.