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Delta isn’t just an airline. It’s also one of the world’s largest food companies, giving a boost to the bottom lines of more than 35 small farms and artisans around the Southeast. 

National Geographic noticed. This week it featured how Delta’s innovative work with partner Atlanta Chef Linton Hopkins is having an impact on taste buds, small businesses and loyal customers.

Watch Chef Linton Hopkins talk about Delta’s new approach to food.

The article, which ran in the publication’s The Plate online, followed Hopkins through part of his selection process for a new Delta One menu item and featured some of the artisan businesses - Banner Butter, Hope’s Gardens - that have been able to grow as a result of their partnership with Delta through Hopkins.

During the past 18 months Delta and Hopkins have developed processes to scale up artisan and local food for Delta One menus.

“The rigors of supplying an airline can be stressful for small producers,” author Maryn McKenna wrote. “In the case of Hope’s Gardens, a small-batch pesto maker, it may literally have saved their business.

“Leslie and Dave Lennox were making pesto from their back garden and giving it to friends when they were invited to join a prestigious Atlanta farmers’ market in 2007. The pesto was so popular the couple expanded their distribution to retail stores, and the business flourished until 2013—and then Leslie ruptured a disk in her back, and the Lennoxes put the company ‘on pause,’ Dave Lennox said.

“‘And then Linton called and asked if we would partner with him. It has had a profound effect on our business.’”

Allison Ausband, Senior Vice President – In-Flight Service, talked about Delta’s fresh approach to food at a planning meeting with Hopkins and his team earlier this year.

“Our in-flight food experience is about more than putting good food on a plane or having a big-name chef draw up a menu. It’s all about deep-rooted partnerships in our communities that allow us, through food, to better connect with customers and suppliers and have a positive impact on both.”

Hopkins’ dishes are available in Delta One premium seating on routes from Atlanta to Europe.