United States Lines and the heydays of trans-Atlantic travel on the last two great American ocean liners, the S.S. America and United States.
Boeing stratocruiser dinning
In the early days of transatlantic flying (the 1950’s) competition for passengers did not depend so much on the fares (they were all high) as it did on the quality of the food and service. In that regard, Air France established a radiant reputation for airborne cuisine. The American carriers, TWA and Pan Am envied the French airline’s stellar reputation and were not about to be left behind.
TWA sent an airborne culinary spy on board Air France flights. Borrowing from the Air France expertise, TWA introduced what it called the ‘Royal Ambassador Service.’ The airline bragged that “There hasn’t been anything like our Royal Ambassador First Class menu since Henry VIII invented banquets.” Passenger favorites included Roast Sirloin of Beef, Sauce Bordelaise, Charbroiled Filet Mignon, with a choice of Parsley or Roquefort butter. All washed down with the best wine and limitless quantities of Mumm’s Cordon Rouge champagne and vintage wines. Not to be outdone Pan Am took a different approach to the French connection. The airline partnered with the renowned Paris Restaurant Maxim’s the restauranteur of tycoons, presidents, and show biz luminaries. The arrangement united Maxim’s 60 years of French gastronomic experience and Pan Am’s latest technological improvements in food preservation and distribution. This Franco/American marriage provided a cuisine defined by the airline as international in character with the universally accepted French accent in preparation. Pan Am introduced its upgraded ‘Presidential Serice’ in 1957 on the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser flights between New York, London, and Paris. Check out the menu below
Pan American’s food officials have found in their surveys that prime charcoal-broiled steak still rates a three to one favorite as an entree and note, a little wistfully, that it remains and will remain on every first-class menu despite the airline’s claim that it offers the only choice of three entrees in transatlantic service.