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Fiji Airways Launches “Chef’s Table” Fine Dining at Nadi Airport

For $66, travelers can enjoy a four-course authentic Fijian meal before departing on one of the airline's flights

by Lauren Smith

May 28, 2024

Photo: Courtesy of Fiji Airways

Fiji Airways invites passengers from any airline to sample elevated local cuisine right in the airport terminal through a new lounge-based dining concept its CEO says is worthy of a Michelin star.

The Chef’s Table dining experience is hosted in a private room within the airline’s Premier Lounge in the archipelago’s Nadi International Airport (NAN).

Photo: Courtesy of Fiji Airways

Up to three times a day (at 1:00 PM and 6:30 PM, with a third seating to be announced shortly), ten guests will take their seats for a unique journey through Fijian cuisine, lasting between 60 and 90 minutes.

The meal isn’t included as standard with entrance to the Premier Lounge but is purchased separately for a fee of FJD$150 ($66), an offer open to any traveler. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance using a form on Fiji Airways’ website.

The meal “celebrates the essence of Fiji and redefines the expectations of airport lounge dining,” Fiji Airways CEO and managing director Andre Viljoen said.

The four-course menu will change seasonally, with ingredients drawn from local produce. Local chefs have designed the dishes and “combine Fijian cooking methods with modern culinary techniques,” Viljoen said.

Photo: Courtesy of Fiji Airways

Currently, diners will begin with a tasting platter celebrating coconut, “the tree of life,” including lolo rice arancini; bu (young coconut) noodles with smoked ivi (Tahitian chestnut) and coriander pesto; vara (coconut apples) with sea salt, bush lemon, and chili flakes. Guests will also receive a coconut water shot in a glass designed to be difficult to drink, just like a coconut.

The appetizer seeks to satisfy kusima, a Fijian concept meaning the desire to eat seafood. It plates up lumi, a delicacy of spiced seaweed and coconut jelly; nama tempura (sea grapes); spice-rubbed Pacific yellowfin tuna; wild-caught ocean water prawns, ginger and wasabi espuma; tomato caviar; and pumpkin fronds.

The main course, dubbed Fire & Smoke, is inspired by Fiji’s traditional open-fire home cooking and roadside barbecues. The lounge kitchen has used portable coal barbecues to achieve a smoky taste in an airport.

The course features lamb prepared in two ways: a flame-grilled backstrap served under a smoke-filled glass cloche and a six-hour braised lamb shank.

Photo: Courtesy of Fiji Airways

Lamb is prepared two ways: lame-grilled, braised, and smoked for six hours. Accompanying are a cassava pavé, braised cabbage puree, and balsamic onion mousse.

Dessert references Fiji’s Indian population, with a house-made curry leaf, cardamom ice cream, spiced purini, and a Fijian coconut caramel pudding, all washed down with mango lassi.

The meal begins with a cocktail or mocktail, and each course is served with wine pairings from New Zealand.

The concept was devised by Fiji Airways Lounge Manager Anish Lal, who said he wanted to pay tribute to local people and produce.

“We wanted to tell a story about our people growing up and using ingredients that the average tourist wouldn’t see,” he told New Zealand news site Stuff.

“We often joke and say our lounge is Michelin star level. No other lounge, not Air New Zealand, not Qantas, matches this lounge, so why shouldn’t we be Michelin-starred?” CEO Viljoen said.

A meal reservation includes access to the rest of the lounge, with a bar, comfortable seating, a media room, office spaces, showers, and a children’s area.