Finnish Your Dinner and Aramark Launches Plant-Based Training

On today’s plate, we have an NBA Hall of Famer franchisee, a famed chocolatier turns 40 and DOCASA comes to America.

Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at

Dining Together on Six Continents 

Thousands of Finns and friends of Finland will be dining together this weekend to celebrate 100 years of Finnish independence. Finnish Your Dinner events will be organized around the globe in public places and private homes. 

The ‘Together’ theme of Finland’s centenary celebration has inspired Finns and friends of Finland to create a truly eventful year. One easy way to join the celebrations is to dine together and even invite guests to your home.

“It is a pleasure to see that so many Finns and friends of Finland around the world have been inspired to invite both friends and strangers to join them for dinner. These dinners will be happy, communal events that will hopefully attract even new friends of Finland,” says Petra Theman, Director of the Unit for Public Diplomacy at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The program for the weekend will be a complete surprise to the guests “We will be arriving at the venue in a very original style, and the menu will be packed with delicacies of the season. The end of summer and Finland’s jubilee year will make the party feeling high enough to raise the roof, or the sky,” Voipio says contentedly.

Finnish missions in five cities around the world will also organise their Finnish Your Dinner events, following the Finnish concept of Dinner in the open air. Dinners will be organised in St Petersburg, Tallinn, Washington, Buenos Aires and Kuala Lumpur. All the missions’ dinners were booked to capacity in a matter of minutes.

“This is a good example of how the centenary year brings together Finns and friends of Finland even abroad,” Theman said.

La Maison du Chocolat Celebrates 40th
In celebration of the international chocolatier’s upcoming 40th anniversary, La Maison du Chocolat is showcasing some of their most iconic creations from the past 40-years. Nestled individually within custom-metallic boxes, the ‘Grands Carrés’ collection features three classic and three more contemporary bouchées.
Born from the vision of its founder Robert Linxe and carried on with the creative precision of Nicolas Cloiseau, La Maison du Chocolat reintroduces six timeless favorites that will be available October 11 and include:
QUITO, intense round flavor
Delicate, full-rounded flavor envelops this silky dark ganache tempered with subtle notes of milk and vanilla. 
SALVADOR, an air of raspberry
An ode to pure fruit and chocolate. The natural acidity of raspberry, brimming with panache, lends character to this dark chocolate ganache with its round, fruity flavor.
BOHÈME, a breath of milk
Airy lusciousness of milk chocolate ganache with its air of chantilly and its deliciously silky character.
POMME D’AMOUR, a nod to country fairs
Compote of apples enrobed in light caramel offers this milk chocolate the inimitable sensation of the cooked sugar of a candy apple.
DENTELLE, a bit of crunchiness, a bit of airiness
All the subtlety of a pure hazelnut delicate Maison praliné with slivers of crispy crêpes.
NÉROLI, the freshness of a flower, the sweetness of fruit
Where sweet Mara des Bois strawberry compote, and orange blossom rendezvous in a dark chocolate ganache. 
NBA Hall of Famer Opens Red Mango

NBA Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon celebrates the opening of Mont Belvieu’s first Red Mango Yogurt Café Smoothie and Juice Bar. The store, located at 9675 Eagle Drive, will be dual-branded with Nestle Toll House Café by Chip.

Hakeem Olajuwon

“I’ve always been a strong advocate for living a healthy and purposeful life. I chose to open a Red Mango because of its fresh, high-quality and flavorful menu,” said Olajuwon. “We have been looking forward to the opening of this location for many months now and are excited to welcome the Mont Belvieu community into the store. In addition, the parent company of Red Mango also owns RedBrick Pizza, Smoothie Factory, and Souper Salad, which provides my company access to four quality brands for future expansion.”

Olajuwon’s location showcases an expanded concept, which Red Mango has been rolling out nationwide, that serves raw, ice-filtered juices and made-to-order cafe meals under 500 calories in addition to the frozen yogurt, fresh smoothies, and parfaits that have made Red Mango famous.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Hakeem be a part of the Red Mango family,” said Craig Erlich, President and Chief Operating Officer for BRIX Holdings, the parent company of Red Mango. “We look forward to continuing to work with Hakeem and we are confident that the community of Mont Belvieu will enjoy Red Mango yogurts, smoothies, parfaits and fresh juices for many years to come.”

Aramark Launches Plant-Based Culinary Training 

Aramark will partner with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to conduct a series of plant-based culinary trainings over the next six months as part of its ongoing efforts to develop strategies that increase plant-based food offerings for consumers. Currently, as part of its Healthy for Life 20 By 20 commitment with the American Heart Association, 30 percent of the main dishes Aramark serves across its dining operations in Healthcare, Higher Education and Business Dining are vegan or vegetarian, and 10 percent feature whole grains as their main ingredient.

60 percent of respondents believe that vegan, vegetarian and plant-forward options are important.

The goal of the new training partnership is to further enable the company’s 1000+ chefs who serve millions of meals daily in hospitals, schools and workplaces to create meals, menus and dining concepts that center on foods including vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. The curriculum will be developed together with The HSUS and Aramark’s culinary leadership, including culinary teams at accounts the company serves. Aramark will also engage with its external advisors, including health & wellness, environmental and animal welfare organizations, to track and report its progress on plant-based food offerings following these trainings.

Recent survey findings of Aramark consumers found that more than 60 percent of respondents believe that vegan, vegetarian and plant-forward (vegetables-as-center-of-the-plate, with smaller portions of meat) options are important. The vast majority of those consumers also believe these options are better for their health, the environment and animals.

“As part of our broad and ongoing commitment to health, wellness and sustainability, we continue to work towards offering more plant-forward menu options and alternate protein sources to Aramark guests,” said Dan Wainfan, who leads health & wellness for Aramark. “We are proud to work on culinary training and menu innovations which provide important health benefits to consumers, while minimizing our environmental impact.”

This builds on the separate alliance between Aramark and the American Heart Association (AHA.) Aramark and the AHA teamed up in 2015 for a five-year commitment to improve the health of Americans 20 percent by 2020. That goal will be achieved by reducing calories, saturated fat and sodium levels while increasing vegetables, whole grains and fruits across menus served in Aramark’s workplaces, hospital cafes and college residential dining halls. The commitment also includes public health education to enable consumers to make healthy food choices.

Aramark also announced its participation in The Culinary Institute of America’s Menus of Change Sustainable Business Leadership Council. Council members advise The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on the design of an annual leadership summit and the overall initiative, including identifying key issues to advance the business of healthy, sustainable, delicious food choices. The culinary trainings and new role on the CIA’s Sustainable Leadership Council will support Aramark’s ongoing efforts to increase plant-forward menus options and concepts across its dining operations.

“In five short years, Menus of Change has set a new direction for the foodservice industry, bringing attention to the role of protein on our menus and recipes, and spurring culinary innovation in plant-forward dining,” said Arlin Wasserman, founder and partner at Changing Tastes, and chair of the Menus of Change Sustainable Business Leadership Council. “The Council’s role is key to this success and its members, including Aramark, provide important insights and guidance from the foodservice and hospitality industry.”

DOCASA Comes to America

DOCASA, Inc, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs Limited, launched its specialty coffee shops securing its first site at 800 Diversy in Chicago.

The new shop is the first of six initial planned shops in the Chicago area, with discussions taking place on a further five throughout the city at this time. 

Shoppers are now prioritizing experience over price in the consumption of coffee. 

People between the ages of 19 and 34 account for the highest coffee consumption in the U.S. Through 2008 to 2016, daily coffee consumption by the millennials has increased from 34 percent to 48 percent. The advancing of cafe culture as a “fashion symbol” is driving the increase of coffee consumption, according to the Mordor Intelligence Report August 2017.

“Our launch in the U.S. is a natural progression following our success and market leading position in the UK specialty coffee market,” said President & CEO Ashley Lopez. “The consumption of specialty coffee is increasing as shoppers are now prioritizing experience over price in the consumption of coffee.  We are the “affordable premium product” and our particular appeal to coffee lovers is reflected in everything we do.  Chicago is a great place to launch into the U.S., being one of the top five cities in the U.S. where people of the “millennial” age live.  By opening shops across Chicago within the coming months, we are laying the foundations, establishing our brand and our values, before launching a completely new concept in the world of specialty coffee that we are all very excited about.”

According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, “Out of an annual $48 billion a year market, for the first time, specialty coffee will represent over 50 percent of that market in 2017 and is set to grow.”

Chairman Professor Stefan Allesch-Taylor CBE said, “We are all excited about launching in the U.S. and have ambitious plans for growth there. Chicago is a world class city and a lover of specialty coffee, it’s a natural U.S. launch city for us. As a group, we remain on track to achieve a 100 percent increase of our portfolio of shops secured and/or opened by the end of the calendar year. Coffee is certainly a “utility style” product in terms of demand but where it is being consumed and the environments being created by specialty coffee shops for customers to frequent are becoming increasingly and noticeably more important to the consumer.  These Chicago shop openings will firmly establish our brand values, quality product offering and customer relationships before we launch our new coffee experience concept in Chicago in 2018, this new concept will mark a paradigm shift how consumers use coffee shops and will prove to be disruptive across more than one sector.”