Launch from the lounge

Published on : 3/28/19
  • When Malaysia Airlines launched the inaugural flight of its A350 airbus last month, it was all hands on deck for our catering and hospitality team in the Malaysia Airlines lounge.

    Departing from Heathrow Airport at 9.30pm on Monday 15 January, the flight to Kuala Lumpur was preceded by an exclusive reception in the Golden Lounge at Terminal 4.

    Hosted by the group chief executive officer (GCEO) of Malaysia Airlines Izham Ismali guests included the Malaysian High Commissioner Dato Ahmad Rasidi and Liverpool Football Club legends Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush (pictured above).

    The Sodexo team responsible for hospitality for VIPs, press and other guests was led by general manager George Swanepoel (pictured above, far right).

    Charged with putting on an array of authentic Malay cuisine, George takes us through the food and drinks the team offered.


    “We worked to a brief of developing a cocktail both along the lines of what we did for the A380 launch and reflecting the fresh approach of the new aircraft. We designed the new A350 cocktail with Prosecco infused with fresh ginger, apple, cucumber and mint syrup.

    “For the non-alcoholic cocktail, the N350, we took inspiration from Malaysia itself and made it tropical: strawberry and black peppercorn syrup with cranberry juice, orange juice and lime juice.”


    “Beef Rendang is a very traditional Malaysian dish with truly unique flavours, and we used this for the canapes. For another canape, we took inspiration from chicken satay with peanut sauce, which is the Malaysia Airlines signature dish in first and business class onboard.

    “We offered Western-style canapes too, catering for all clientele we had on the day. This is always a consideration for us as a large number of the 30,000 Golden Lounge customers each year travel between London and Australia and New Zealand.

    “In Malay, Negaraku means ‘My Country’ (it’s the title of the national anthem). Media and commentators in Malaysia were referring to the new A350 aircraft as Negaraku as it has a Malaysian flag design. For the main menu, we took that on board, looked at the tradition of what’s eaten to celebrate in Malaysia. We served Ayam Masak Merah (a chicken dish), Nasi Tomato (a rice dish) and Soto Ayam (a chicken soup).

    “The feedback we had from guests was very positive about the authenticity of the Malay cuisine on offer.

    “All credit to the kitchen team led by our head chef Nedzly Zulkifli, who brings 20 years’ experience to Golden Lounge customers from such prestigious establishments as the Dorchester Hotel, Harrods London and Satay House London.”

    Sodexo Sports & Leisure has more than 200 airport lounge operations in more than 80 cities across 23 countries.


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