I’m a huge fan of American Express Centurion lounges. They’re orders of magnitude better than what’s offered by US airlines. They’re stylish and offer good (complimentary) food and beverages. They even pair with a local celebrity chef for each lounge, as well as with a celebrity mixologist.
I was fortunate to attend the pre-opening dinner of the San Francisco lounge back in November. Unquestionably the food presentation was going to be at the top of its game, three-Michelin star chef Christopher Kostow was there supervising.
SF Eater reports that Kostow and American Express have split after the lounge had been open only a few months. (HT: Daniel W.)
According to a statement from American Express, the decision to depart the project was ‘mutual’ so that “he can focus on other projects.”
Kostow declined to comment on the reason for the severed ties, but some industry types assume that the differing desires of a Michelin-starred chef and an airport food service provider have something to do with it.
Here’s why it’s so hard to create decent food inside an airport. The challenges are truly mind boggling, and much greater than you’d realize at first blush.
In my view the food was very good, at least at the pre-opening, but I really like the LaGuardia lounge offerings a bit more. My favorite Centurion lounge dish was the original brisket from the Dallas lounge’s opening.
Chef’s — especially Michelin-starred chefs — can be tough to work with and uncompromising. This chef’s food in San Francisco was a bit less popular than the other lounges.
American Express deserves real kudos for going farther than anyone else has in the U.S. to deliver a top culinary experience across a variety of airports despite the challenges. This news does not surprise, although I wouldn’t have guessed it necessarily either.
Here’s what you need to know:
- American Express plans to team up with a new chef for the San Francisco lounge.
- The existing Kostow menu will be served until a new chef is onboard.
- The real highlight of this lounge is less the food anyway and more the ‘wine wall’ with premium offerings that I actually want to drink.
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