British chef and TV presenter James Martin is set to partner with Virgin Trains as part of the train operator's major transformation of its East Coast services.
Martin has created a new range of seasonal menus for First Class customers which will be rolled out in May. Under the partnership Virgin Trains is also promising "exciting changes" to standard class buffet dining this autumn.
The partnership is part of Virgin Trains' £140m upgrade programme which includes a major fleet revamp, refurbished stations and new routes. The programme also sees 42 additional services launched this year, from May, adding another 22,000 extra seats per week between Edinburgh and London.
Under the programme, Martin's brief is to reinvigorate breakfast, casual dining and, on selected services, evening meals using fresh, seasonal, local flavours and specialist producers along the train operator's route.
For breakfast, Martin has created an exclusive range of jams produced by Yorkshire-based Fruity Kitchen. He has also introduced a premium black pudding which will be served alongside sausages, bacon and eggs, while casual dining features the chef's signature golden sultana sauce as an accompaniment to sausage rolls. Evening meals include lemon and herb roasted chicken, as well as a new chicken curry dish created in the chef's development kitchen.
"I see this partnership as a real opportunity to open people's eyes to the great food they could enjoy as they speed up the iconic East Coast line - and I feel the new menus we're cooking up together will make it a truly enjoyable experience."
Alison Watson, customer experience director at Virgin Trains on the East Coast, added: "This is another step in Virgin Trains' journey of improving every element of our customers' experience when they travel with us. Our new First Class carriages are rolling out on a weekly basis now, we are upgrading our First Class lounges for customers, and we have a totally new fleet of trains in the pipeline, too.
"However, we are also focusing on getting the experience right for our customers today, and a revitalised menu is another important element of that. We're confident the menu James is designing with our team will be the finest dining any UK train operator can boast and will be another step in making our customers' journeys even better."
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