Sea vegetables sprouting in CulinArt menus, offerings - CulinArt Group

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Sea vegetables sprouting in CulinArt menus, offerings

RYE BROOK, N.Y., May 21, 2024—CulinArt operators are exploring the incorporation of sea vegetables into dining services offerings, mostly as seasonings presented in the Find Your Flavor station but also in entrees and salads. Sea vegetables are also figuring prominently in customer engagement activities such as Teaching Kitchens and Wellness Tabling events.

Sea vegetables are a type of aquatic food and include edible algae such as nori (often used to wrap sushi), kelp, and moss that are produced for food service in dried sheets, flakes, noodles, and snack packs, and also come frozen or fresh. CulinArt collaborated with Food for Climate League (FCL), a nonprofit working to promote climate-smart eating, on ways to introduce sea vegetables into dining operations.

To kick off the campaign, three CulinArt accounts worked directly with FCL on a research study that added two to three types of sea vegetable seasonings—furikake (a blend of dried, roasted sea vegetables, sesame seeds, salt, and sugar), wakame, and nori flakes—to their existing Find Your Flavor stations. Surveys conducted during the campaigns endeavored to determine customers’ reactions to each.

According to survey results, diners responded more positively overall to the flavor and versatility messages, though not significantly so. FCL determined that customers enjoyed the seasonings and expressed interest in eating more sea vegetables.

In day-to-day operations at three CulinArt accounts—The Archer School for Girls, in Los Angeles; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York; and George School, in Newtown, Pa.—customers mostly added dried sea vegetable flakes to a variety of dishes including salads, Pan Asian dishes, and even mac-and-cheese. Meghan Lambert-Jackson, director of dining services at Archer School, witnessed “some of the kids occasionally using the nori pieces as a snack, kind of like the seaweed snack packs that are really popular right now.”

The campaign also gathered CulinArt associates’ perspectives on working sea vegetables into menus. While most associates had never worked with sea vegetable seasonings before, overall the CulinArt team was inspired by the trial and viewed it as an entry point for introducing sea vegetables more broadly. “Adding wakame on top of a chicken dish brought an unfamiliar item to a familiar protein,” explained Tim Gober, exec. chef at George School. “It gave the dish brightness, crunchy texture, and a savory umami note.”

CulinArt expanded the sea vegetable awareness campaign with a focused Teaching Kitchen curriculum and an interactive wellness table that invited students at George School to mix and match from five different sea vegetables atop traditional steamed rice. “Educating students on why sea vegetables are good for the planet and good for you was just Step One,” explained Ali Bernardi, VP of Marketing and Strategy for CulinArt. “From there we wanted students to explore what sea vegetables taste like and then learn how to incorporate these superfoods into their diet.”

As with all of CulinArt’s sustainability programs, education and engagement are key. “We work with our onsite teams to determine what is most important to our guests in terms of sustainability,” said Stephanie Dorfman, MS, RDN, CulinArt’s director of nutrition and wellness. “We were excited to present them with this potentially new, for some, sustainability and wellness education on sea vegetables—how to naturally add them to daily meals and why they are sustainably superior.”

Peter Klein, CulinArt’s director of culinary development, notes that the sea vegetable seasonings work well for café operations with rice or noodle bowl stations, and as condiments for virtually any other kind of menu concept. About a dozen CulinArt accounts are regularly purchasing nori flakes, furikake, and wakame for those applications, while others are buying wakame for use in salads.

For a recent company summit, CulinArt and FCL jointly produced a 90-second video that highlighted some of the high points of the campaign and showcased sea vegetables in recipe production and as part of a marketing/awareness campaign.

Click here to view the video, here for the FCL research study, and here for more information on Food for Climate League and its efforts to promote aquatic foods.

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  • May 20, 2024
Corporate News


What our clients are saying

“What a wonderful dinner we had tonight for our international families. The food was delicious and well presented as well.”

“Thank you for including me today in the food waste demonstration/[chef competition] and flattering me with the role of “judge.” I will proudly don the [Stop Food Waste Day] apron the next time I plan an “event” in our own kitchen. I think this is a very worthwhile cause and the statistics you read off are staggering. They, alone, can intimidate a home chef, let alone be the “driver’ for a professional one.”

“Thank you and your staff for all the care and thought you give CSW adults and students. You approach events with such care and elegance- I don’t know how you do it! Especially day after day. Please thank all your staff for their wonderful work and kind manner with all of us. Here is to a great year!”

“Many, and I do mean many, thanks for a great Parents Weekend.  I heard from so many happy parents and you all work very hard to make it happen.  In gratitude and kindness…”

“We are so thankful and so impressed by your immediate attention to our power outage. It was such a relief to see all the equipment and workers coming in within a few hours of the outage. Thank you for serving dinner to all [the] students in a very difficult circumstance. Please extend our thanks to your workers who braved cold weather to grill hamburgers and hotdogs.”

“With all the prep work from Winterim ramping up and classes continuing as usual, it's a busy time to be a Forman teacher. Imagine my delight, tired as I was, when I delved into the upscale-restaurant-quality chicken parmesan our dining hall served last night. Forman is all about support, and providing our students with a dinner of that quality is just as important a measure of support as anything that happens in a classroom.”

“I can’t thank your entire team enough for the outstanding service, food, displays, everything!  You are a master at detail, and because of that Adam and I were able to focus on the parents.  I know what a sacrifice pulling off a weekend like this means, we are so appreciative and grateful to you all for your talent and generosity.”

“I ALWAYS feel spoiled by the meal offerings at CSW (The Cambridge School of Weston) and am entirely grateful for it. As I eat today's delicious and lavish lunch (and think about yesterday's as well), I can't tell you how much I feel so well cared for here, both with the food and by the dining hall staff. CSW cares for us in so many ways, both big and small.”

“Thank You! Chef Budd [and team], you overcame a new online ordering system (and hundreds of labels daily!), provided creative and healthy menus, continued to connect with local farmers to incorporate locally sourced ingredients, and worked tirelessly to serve the school community on three campuses.  While it feels like you are all a little like the Wizard of Oz right now, working behind a curtain in a kitchen far away, we sense your smiles and your passion to deliver the best possible service during these trying times. We are all so grateful!”

“I will say that CulinArt has always been a very collaborative partner to T. Rowe Price, listening to our current needs and future goals and suggesting realistic and achievable strategies to meet those goals.  2020 was obviously no exception.  CulinArt also altered other areas of our OCS and pantry programs to create safer environments for all our associates. We can only thank you for your continued flexibility and innovative ideas through these difficult times.”

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