Credit: © Ball & Albanese

Brooklyn Lager–braised short ribs, caramelized-carrot risotto, duck prosciutto: no, this isn’t a Top Chef challenge; it’s a sampling from entrées now served to first- and business-class passengers on select Lufthansa flights. The new menus were dreamed up by the Ritz-Carlton Group, which turned to its hotel chefs worldwide for culinary inspiration. “I tried 45 different recipes,” says chef Jacques Sorci, speaking of his quest to create meals that taste as good in the air as on the ground (even after they’ve been sitting in warming carts for hours). To ensure that his food retains its flavor at 30,000 feet, he’s chosen dishes such as short ribs, which pack more gusto the longer they simmer, and reengineered classics like risotto, allowing it to rise prior to cooling so that it keeps its fluff in the air. In an era when airlines are pulling back, in-flight food has reached surprising new heights.