Fall ’21 opening season brisk for CulinArt school directors
Sept. 30, 2021—CulinArt Group has opened dining services at eight new independent school clients for the 2021–’22 academic year—with one more coming just weeks from now. Many opened just after Labor Day, though several got going in mid-August serving early-arrival boarding students, faculty dinners, and other special events. The openings followed a busy selling season as clients looked to CulinArt for services and solutions allowing them to move beyond the pandemic era and into a new generation of school food service.
Following are summaries of each new account.
Salesianum School in Wilmington, Del., came back into the CulinArt fold with a café serving 1,000 students, faculty, and staff daily. Options include a carvery, Chef’s Table, grill, pizza, pasta dishes, Quik Piks, composed salads, and full breakfast including fresh baked goods. There is also a new Market retail solution featuring self-checkout that allows students to make purchases with their IDs (MyKidsSpending funds) or credit cards. Jennifer McMilin serves as FSD; she came into the position after nine years with CulinArt about a mile away at Padua Academy in Wilmington.
Stocked with CulinArt Quik Piks, a large variety of on-trend packaged snacks and treats, and bottled beverages galore, SalMart, named by our client, opened on Monday, Sept. 21. It is an adaptation of Compass/Envision Group Market program that combines Market design, smallwares, and graphics with existing structures from a former bookstore at Salesianum. SalMart is trending upwards of $1,000 per day in additional revenue, and primarily focuses on afternoon day-part business as a hub for students on campus for after-school activities and sports.
Also known as The Golf Performance Center, Ethan Allen Preparatory in Ridgefield, Conn., enrolls 20 student-athletes, 13 of whom live in two residence halls, destined to play golf at the collegiate level and beyond. Leslie DiNapoli, chef manager, oversees a staff of two in providing three meals a day, seven days a week. Her objectives? “Thrill customers with food by offering diverse choice and nutritional balance for athletes,” she says, “while creating an engaging and educational dining experience.”
According to District Manager Hilary Ham, DiNapoli is engaged with the students to offer foods that are unique, fresh, diverse, and suitable for the needs of those students with different needs and allergen requirements. “The students and golf pros alike,” Ham adds, “have been thrilled with many of CulinArt’s concepts so far: Bibimbap, Pasta Cocina, Mezze Grill, Noodle Bar, Grill ’n Greens, and the summer barbeque.”
The Golf Performance Center property and grounds are also available for private event rental. Ali Bernardi, CulinArt VP Marketing/Brand Strategy, is working with GPC clients and leadership of the CulinArt Group Catering Collection to launch a concentrated campaign aimed at raising awareness of the location as one of the Northeast’s most unique venues for corporate and social events.
Founded in 1844 as the Virginia Female Institute, today, Stuart Hall School, in Staunton, Va., is home to approx. 150 culturally and ethnically diverse co-ed students in grades 6-12, with one-third of them boarders. One glance at CulinArt’s weekly menu, specifically the Global station, testifies to this diversity—lunches in the first few weeks of school included Harissa Lime Grilled Salmon (Middle Eastern), Pork Tonkatsu (Japanese), Lemon Chicken Shwarma (Israeli), Mexican Vegetable Lasagna, and Brazilian Grilled Beef, not to mention International Tacos for dinner on Saturday.
The school, which survived the Civil War, is rich with history and tradition: graduates include the founder of the Girls Scouts of America; many students sign an Honor Code. The dining hall offers buffet-style breakfast, lunch, and dinner weekdays, with weekend brunch and dinner. Operations Manager Scott Coles oversees the program, drawing upon his upbringing in Virginia farm country where he spent his days chasing cattle, gardening, and cooking. “There is a large focus on international flavors along with local sourcing as much as possible,” he says.
CulinArt took over dining services at Stony Brook School in Stony Brook, N.Y., last June, just in time to support its sports, science/tech, and specialty camps. Three months later, FSD Marty Weil, previously at Teachers College in New York, launched a full breakfast, lunch and dinner program for the school’s 450 students, 222 of whom live on campus, and about 150 faculty, staff, and family members.
Offerings at the school, which celebrates its 100th anniversary next year, include a Global Flavour station, steamed rice bar, Wellness Wednesdays, family-style dinners twice a week, guest-chef appearances, and theme-night dinners. Students, faculty, and parents can access the daily menu on Nutrislice, which allows viewers to filter the menu by allergens, ingredients, and/or dietary preferences.
There is also The Jetty, a retail snack bar where students can treat themselves to smoothies, bubble tea, milkshakes, flatbread pizza, and hot snacks.
Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, N.Y., was one of three new CulinArt schools opening this day, and is arguably generating volume rivaling our largest, more established accounts. FSD Scott Richter, previously executive chef at Stony Brook University, and a staff of 15 are feeding more than 3,000 students in grades 6-12 in three meal periods. An Odin point-of-sale system is helping move students along, including three self-checkout stands that find students using a barcode reader to purchase items with MyKidsSpending debit funds (with occasional help from staff). They are also beating a path to the newly installed Market retail operation, in which approx. 1,150 of them are purchasing grab-and-go items daily.
The Market at Kellenberg is a 10’x10’ store with some exterior merchandisers that stock Jack & Olive sandwiches, salads, snack packs, fruit cups, a larger variety of packaged treats, quick-grab breakfast fare, and bottled beverages. With the original intent of off-setting the lunch rush with a variety of grab-and-go options from The Market, sales are extending from early morning till early evening. During off-peak hours, The Market is self-checkout with a dedicated cashier and Odin register during the busiest times of the day.
Not far from Kellenberg is St. Martin de Porres Marianist School, where CulinArt introduced new meal plan offerings for approx. 200 students in grades Pre-K through 8. Offerings include a daily entrée with two side dishes, alternative entrees, beverage, and dessert, with all meals delivered to Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms. CulinArt also provided food for a back-to-school barbeque, enjoyed by the youngster at left and many other students and families.
Like other new and existing accounts, St. Martin de Porres opens this year with a new retail solution which accepts MyKidsSpending funds, allowing students to purchase snacks and Quik Pik items until late afternoon. Bagels, salads, and assorted chips are selling well, according to Jackelene Aviles, a CulinArt manager temporarily overseeing the account along with Carlos Rivera. Bagels and salads are also popular in the café, as are entrees such as Pasta with Vegetables and Spaghetti with Meatballs, as well as Greek yogurt, Rivera adds.
How supportive of its new dining services partner is St. Martin de Porres? Click on its home page and a pop-up menu promoting CulinArt’s meal plans appears. The school is that supportive.
With COVID-19 still a concern among administrators and parents, pre-ordering of meals is effective in helping students stay safe. That is one goal of the new CulinArt dining serv ices program at Holy Child School at Rosemont in Rosemont, Pa., where about 20% of parents use the new Nutrislice app to pre-order and pay for their child’s meals while the students pick up their meals in the cafeteria. Daily choices include two or three Chef’s Table entrees, a couple of sides, four UpMarket sandwiches, pizza, soup, and Quik Pik salads and snacks.
St. Mary’s Home for Children in North Providence, R.I. is more an “educational and therapeutic residence” than an independent school, comparatively speaking. Yet daily meals play just as important a role to the children of St. Mary’s, many of whom are enrolled in its Campus School.
It is a relatively small group of customers—ranging from 35 to 50, plus up to 100 staff—and food is key to the home’s mission. “Students are newly admitted or discharged regularly,” says Chef Manager Amanda Allard, a Johnson and Wales graduate. “Our goal is to show these students compassion and feed them healthy options. We are also very proud to introduce them to new foods, especially fruit and vegetables. We are honored to be here making a positive difference in their lives.”
Allard has worked in food service since her mid-teens and joined CulinArt while working at an independent school. “I was so thankful CulinArt took over and transformed it,” she adds.
The Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro, Mass., far from South Bend, Ind., is closer to Nashua, N.H., than it is to Boston. Its 200-acre campus is as picturesque-New England as a school can get: leafy tree–lined lanes, pristine fields, foreboding four-story brick main building, religious statues in serene settings, all set on the banks of the Merrimack River. Next month, a new CulinArt menu debuts for the nearly 400 students and 50 faculty and staff at this co-ed, Pre-K–12 Catholic school.
Chef Manager Martin Porto, already on-site making preparations, will oversee a hot lunch buffet for nearly 400 students and 50 staff. District Manager Hilary Ham notes that students had been brown-bagging for a year with minimal options available at school. “They are looking for healthier, more balanced options and want to be active participants in the new dining services plan,” she adds.