Last June, my brother, James Griffith, had the honor of working with Santi Santamaría. Jim, who is assistant vice president for Emirates Flight Catering, is very sanguine about his accomplishments and brushes with fame. In May 2010, he sent me a one-sentence e-mail: “I am going to be working with this guy during June to do our Madrid flight menus.” Accompanying it was a thumbnail image of Santi Santamaría and a blurb about the famed Catalan chef’s Dubai restaurant Ossiano.
Two months later Jim sent me the above picture. Emirates hired Santamaría to concoct a menu for its Madrid flights. Jim reports that the celebrated chef was a “very friendly, genuine guy. His food was very homey and full flavored.” I got a food-blogger thrill seeing my brother arm-in-arm with Santamaría, whose Can Fabes restaurant has had three Michelin stars since 1994 (and who was a vocal opponent of what’s known as molecular cooking). Seven months later, on Feb. 19, I read in the New York Times that Santamaría was dead.
Here are some of the in-flight dishes from the Emirates menu crafted by Santamaría and Angel Zapata, chef of Ossiano.