French cuisine got a galactic boost recently when some of the country's top chefs, Thierry Marx and Alain Ducasse, concocted some special dishes for French astronaut Thomas Pesquet during his missions aboard the International Space Station. So while the famous dish of boeuf bourguignon was in the spotlight for that mission, during the next SpaceX trip, which will be the very first private flight to the ISS, an iconic Spanish dish, paella, will be the featured dish for astronauts to nosh on. But not just any paella, paella concocted by star chef José Andrés.
The history of privatized space travel is about to reach a new milestone. While last September's first-ever orbital mission with no professionals on board was a success, a private flight to the International Space Station is now scheduled for April 3. A collaboration between Axiom Space, SpaceX and NASA, the trip will be shared by four individuals, including Spanish-born former NASA commander Michael Lopez-Alegria. The mission will last ten days in total, and the group will spend eight days on the International Space Station.
When it's time to sit down to dinner, passengers will have a chance to taste the creations of legendary Spanish-American chef, José Andrés. While Andrés is famous around the world for his humanitarian work —he is currently organizing a food distribution on the Polish border with Ukraine through his association World Central Kitchen—the star chef based in Washington DC is also known for his involvement in issues concerning the food of tomorrow. José Andrés has long been working with the education and philanthropy branch of his ThinkFood Group to implement solutions. And meals in space is one of the topics they reflect upon.
During this private mission aboard the ISS, the passengers will share a meal composed of paella, made with chicken and mushrooms, a key recipe in José Andrés' repertoire. Of course, the presentation has been adapted so that this iconic dish of Spanish cuisine can be packaged in soft pouches suited for space travel. But, the chef's goal is to encourage guests to share the paella, in the same way that Spaniards traditionally place the large pan in the middle of the table.
The menu will also include a dish called "Secreto de Cerdo with Pisto," made with Iberian pork, tomatoes, onions, eggplant and peppers. In the passenger's luggage, there will be Bellota Iberian jamón, but also a salchichon, a traditional sausage from the Iberian Peninsula, as well as Marcona almonds, considered one of the top varieties in the world, provided by companies of Fermín and that of another great Spanish chef, Albert Adrià.
On board the International Space Station, astronauts are now pampered by top chefs who work on tasty meal ideas for many months before departure. Last year, Thomas Pesquet ate some gourmet dishes created by François Adamski, during a collaboration with Servair, the subsidiary of the Air France/KLM group dedicated to catering. The French astronaut also tasted Alain Ducasse's recipes, since his Ducasse Conseil team has been working with CNES (France's National Centre for Space Studies) since 2004. Thierry Marx, the Michelin-starred chef from the Mandarin Oriental, was also a partner of Thomas Pesquet during his first mission.
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