Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is delighted to present the second SWISS Culinary Innovation Award to one of the top 25 plated chefs in the 2019 JHP Gourmet Guide™.


South Africans flying from Johannesburg to Zurich in SWISS First and SWISS Business have a lot to look forward to on their return flight. Long-haul passengers departing from Switzerland savour the delights of Swiss International Air Line’s award-winning gastronomic concept. The menus change every three months, and are crafted by renowned guest chefs whose first-class restaurants have received Michelin stars and Gault Millau points. The focus is on regional and seasonal specialities that guarantee a culinary flight to remember. The International Travel Catering Association has awarded the SWISS Taste of Switzerland concept its Mercury Award, the most prestigious award in travel catering.


No meal is complete unless paired with excellent wines. When possible guests enjoy wine from the cantons or neighbouring regions of these celebrated guest chefs – discover wines from top producers in limited quantities or new creations, a real treat. The diverse offering on board reflects Switzerland’s wine landscape.


Finishing touches added to pre-cooked specialities produced by SWISS Gate Gourmet take place during the flight. The attentive cabin crew prepares the meals for serving and garnishes them in the galley, the on-board kitchen, before serving the dishes to guests.


Passengers’ sense of taste is affected by the low-pressure environment – this is just one of the many aspects of on-board cuisine that the chefs consider to ensure memorable, magical meals. Every effort is made by professional partner SWISS Gate Gourmet to create dishes crafted by top chefs so that they taste just as sophisticated above the clouds as they do in a gourmet restaurant. Exclusive spices are added to premium ingredients to provide unforgettable fare.


The first winner of the first-ever SWISS Culinary Innovation Award was announced at the launch of the 2018 JHP Gourmet Guide™ in Cape Town, in October 2018. The delighted, unanimous winner was talented chef Chantel Dartnall of Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient Boutique Hotel. Chantel’s prize from SWISS was two business class tickets to Europe for a culinary adventure of her choice. A few months later Chantel and her mother, Mari Dartnall, who runs The Orient Boutique Hotel, flew from Johannesburg via Zurich to Paris on SWISS Business Class, for a trip of a lifetime. Well rested after enjoyable travels and some gourmet in-flight meals, they began their European adventure. A highlight was the personalised cellar tour and tasting of the Taittinger Champagne House in Reims, France, with the Mosaic team. Chantel then went on to spend five days working in Yannick Alléno’s kitchen at his renowned restaurant, Alleno Paris, which holds three Michelin stars. It is no surprise that Chantel combined food and wine in her travels, as Mosaic is renowned for their exceptional food and wine pairings and extensive wine collection. This experience will ensure that Chantel remains inspired to constantly innovate in her kitchen, no doubt winning more global awards. In 2018 she was announced ‘Best Female Chef in the World’, another well-deserved accolade that illustrates that South Africa has become a global culinary destination to be reckoned with.


The SWISS Culinary Innovation Award is truly an extension of SWISS’ well regarded and elegant service offering. It focuses on highlighting fine dining that elevates the customer experience with creativity, effort, efficiency, passion, accuracy, precision and sustainability. SWISS prides itself on these key elements to create a memorable and lasting experience for the traveller. The following elements are of importance to SWISS, and are reflected in the criteria for his award, all culminating in an overall innovative dining experience:

CREATIVITY: Creativity converts gastronomic concepts into top cuisine. The industry professionals create menus with creative specialities using products that are cultivated, inspired and produced in the art of gastronomy. Creativity extends beyond the borders of a plate, into the kitchen and how it is run, the menu dynamics and the business of pleasing the clientele.

EFFORT: Unique touches dominate, matched by attentive service. The sight, smell and taste of each meal must ensure a positive response. Effort is made to refine and redefine classic and contemporary gastronomy into memorable meals.

EFFICIENCY: Both safety and efficiency are the cornerstones of SWISS, and the utmost care is taken in meal planning and preparation.

PASSION: Sophistication and passion flavour the food, recognised by those who are discerning. Use of ingredients and techniques are innovative, showcasing a true passion for premium cuisine.

ACCURACY: Accuracy is the pride of Switzerland, and on-board gastronomy has been elevated to new boundaries with ultra-modern culinary and artful presentation.

PRECISION: Precision is reflected in serving the right food at the right time, with a dash of charm and personal attention, both equally important.

SUSTAINABILITY: Responsible food practices are adopted to ensure that whilst the cuisine is innovative and elegant, knowledge of and a contribution to the community and planet is of paramount importance. Longevity of the business too is a strong consideration.


In the restaurant industry, gruelling and competitive yet hugely rewarding, innovation has many aspects. Innovation is not restricted to producing inventive dishes, it is about running a business that constantly innovates in all aspects, from behind-the-scenes to front-of-house. It’s about inspiring your team to believe in and execute your vision. The judges for the 2019 SWISS Culinary Innovation Award took many criteria into consideration, taking evaluation well beyond what appears to delight the diner in terms of plating, taste, texture, technique and temperature, use of ingredients and service.

Congratulations to chef Luke Dale Roberts of The Test Kitchen, for his all-round innovation so well demonstrated during the droughts suffered in the Cape. When Day Zero threatened, he instituted inventive water-saving mechanisms and launched a delicious and clever drought menu. He took half his team to work in Mauritius at a pop-up restaurant. By doing this he set a fine example to his diners, his staff and his peers in the industry. A trailblazer and pioneer of note.

SWISS continues to support local innovation and talent, and looks forward to seeing the continued growth in the food sector. Dr. Andre Schulz, General Manager for the Lufthansa Group Southern Africa says, “We are thrilled that Luke Dale Roberts has been awarded the second SWISS Culinary Innovation Award and are excited to see how he will incorporate what he picks up from his unique culinary experience overseas into the cuisine at The Test Kitchen. SWISS will continue to support the top chefs in South Africa by showcasing their work and pushing them to reach new heights in terms of culinary innovation, while rewarding them for their outstanding work.”

Dr. Schulz concludes by adding that SWISS takes huge pride in culinary innovation and serving excellent cuisine with the Taste of Switzerland in SWISS First and SWISS Business, and are happy to be able to support similar concepts in South Africa.