Image: NASA astronaut Jeff Williams
NASA astronaut Jeff Williams checks out a food pouch in the international space station's galley. Meals cooked up by chef Alain Ducasse were on board a cargo ship that blasted off Monday for the space station.
updated 10/25/2006 1:11:27 PM ET 2006-10-25T17:11:27

So much for Tang. The crew of the international space station will be dining upscale.

Top chef Alain Ducasse whipped up a little something for them to eat that's worthy of his award-winning restaurants.

Meals cooked up by Ducasse were on board a Progress M-58 cargo ship that blasted off Monday for the international space station, France's National Center for Space Studies said Wednesday.

The menu includes caponata, a Sicilian dish made of peppers, tomatoes and zucchini; roasted quails in a wine sauce from France's Madiran region; smooth celery root puree with nutmeg; and rice pudding with preserved fruit.

Cooking for space isn't like cooking in a restaurant. So the French space center says Ducasse had to do a fair bit of experimenting before the dishes were ready to go.

Ducasse, who has award-winning restaurants in Paris, New York and Monaco, and chefs from ADF, his consultancy and training department, developed recipes to meet the difficult requirements of dining in space, including zero bacteria.

"To achieve the right result, the chef worked like a sorcerer's apprentice, experimenting with textures, seasoning and cooking," the French space center said. "Some recipes were tested five times before getting it right."

German astronaut Thomas Reiter will be the first to enjoy the meals, which are designed for special occasions, while daily meals are provided by the Russians and Americans, Ducasse's office said.

Ducasse isn't the first celebrity chef to cook for NASA. Earlier this year, TV chef Emeril Lagasse made five freeze-dried Cajun dishes for the space station crew.

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