It is a truth universally acknowledged than an airport must be in want of fresh, delicious food for any price. Even the godfather of the celebrity-chef concept, Wolfgang Puck, has allowed his brand to become so diluted that his name on your pizza box guarantees little besides the requisite thin crust. But as the new generation has swept in to our ever more Food-Networked world, they’ve started taking up real estate in the terminals that deserve some attention.
Rick Bayless has managed to create a deep respect among his fans for both Mexican cuisine and the Chicago culinary scene, so it’s no surprise that Tortas Fronteras serves up its giant (and we mean giant) tortas and open-face sandwiches at O’Hare, in Terminal 1. Across the pond, London Heathrow tapped Gordon Ramsay to create Plane Food in their Terminal 5, offering everything from blini and Sevruga caviar to sea bass and braised lamb — and you can even get it packaged to take on your flight.
A different kind of English cuisine is happening at Boston’s Logan Airport, where Todd English’s Bonfire is grilling up steaks from around the world in a mix of Argentinean, European and American steakhouse traditions. And though customers may stumble into Las Vegas’ McCarran with nothing more than a Bloody Mary in mind, David Burke’s Burke in the Box offers up a wide selection of gourmet American offerings, like not-so-traditional prosciutto and arugula pizza and pretzel panini. But if we’re being honest, our favorite celebrity chef airport joint isn’t run by a celebrity chef at all — it’s celebrity butcher Pat LaFrieda, whose Custom Burgers joint in New York’s LaGuardia airport turns out beef so tender, you won’t even need your dinky plastic knife.