Red Lobster teams up for ocean conservation, launches cedar-plank seafood dishes for summer

Published on
April 24, 2019

In the past week, seafood restaurant enterprise Red Lobster has partnered with the Ocean Conservancy and introduced its new, limited time Cedar-Plank Seafood menu inspired by summer.

The foodservice giant, which operates more than 700 restaurants in the United States and Canada, said it partnered with the non-profit Ocean Conservancy on 18 April to support the protection and preservation of the world’s oceans. Together, Red Lobster and Ocean Conservancy will focus on the promotion of two programs: The Global Ghost Gear Initiative, which works to derive solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear, and the Trash Free Seas Alliance, which seeks to unite leaders to mitigate plastic waste entering the oceans. 

Through its work with Ocean Conservancy, Red Lobster will further expand its Seafood with Standards commitments “beyond sourcing traceable, sustainable, and responsibly-sourced seafood to include efforts to support healthy oceans,” it said in a press release. 

“Our partnership with Ocean Conservancy, and our support for the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and Trash Free Seas Alliance, are important extensions of our unwavering commitment to Seafood with Standards. It's important that we continue to do the right thing for our oceans, for our business and for our guests so there is seafood to enjoy for generations," Red Lobster CEO Kim Lopdrup said. "We've been dedicated to seafood sustainability since opening our doors in 1968, and we plan to continue using our leadership position and resources to drive change.”

Red Lobster’s efforts to raise awareness surrounding the issues impacting global oceans and to encourage collaboration to solve those problems will extend beyond its internal personnel, to its suppliers and guests, the company said. As one of the largest restaurant purchasers of seafood in the world, the foodservice provider intends to strongly encourage its suppliers to support projects that reduce, remove, and recycle the more than 640,000 tons of ghost gear lost or abandoned in the world’s oceans each year. 

Additionally, the company plans to continue evaluating the use of single-use plastics and seek alternatives, as it has already started doing with plastic straws – Red Lobster was the first large fast-casual dining restaurant to commit to the elimination of plastic straws from its locations. Since November 2018, the restaurant enterprise began offering plastic straws only upon request, with the ultimate goal of removing them entirely from the business by 2020.  

Alongside its supplier outreach strategy, Red Lobster also plans to use its Ocean Conservancy partnership to appeal to consumers about the impact single-use plastics can have on the oceans and marine life, and encourage more eco-friendly choices among the restaurant’s guests.

"We're excited to partner with Red Lobster to advance our mission to tackle the negative impacts of ghost gear and plastic pollution in our ocean today," Ocean Conservancy CEO Janis Searles Jones said. "A healthy ocean requires action from companies, individuals, and governments, so we must use our collective impact to fight for conservation efforts and use smart science, effective policies and engaged partners to make a difference."

Summer special

Its partnership with Ocean Conservancy wasn’t the only big announcement Red Lobster made this past week. On 22 April, the franchise introduced its limited-time Cedar-Plank Seafood event featuring five seasonal entrées – an ode to summer and its bright flavors, according to the Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.-headquartered business. 

The event’s menu includes three new cedar-plank seafood dishes as well as “two classic favorites,” Red Lobster said. The new dishes on the menu include: Cedar-Plank Lobster and Shrimp, featuring jumbo shrimp and Maine lobster tails with garlic and Red Lobster’s signature Chesapeake seasoning, roasted on a cedar-plank with smoked sausage and served with fresh seasoned corn and potato wedges; Cedar-Plank Colossal Shrimp and Salmon, featuring colossal shrimp that’s been roasted on a cedar-plank and paired with wood-grilled salmon, served with an orange beurre blanc and a choice of two sides; and Cedar-Plank Surf and Turf, again featuring colossal shrimp roasted on a cedar-plank, then paired with a wood-grilled Sirloin steak and served with an orange beurre blanc and a choice of two sides.

Classic dishes such as Bar Harbor Lobster Bake and Salmon New Orleans are also highlighted for the promotion. Bar Harbor Lobster Bake includes split and roasted Maine lobster tails, shrimp, bay scallops, mussels, and fresh tomatoes served over linguini in a garlic and white wine broth. Meanwhile, Salmon New Orleans includes fresh Atlantic salmon that has been blackened and topped with shrimp tossed in a Cajun butter sauce and served with a tomato-cilantro relish garnish and a choice of two sides.

"We are excited to be featuring seafood cooked on a cedar plank because it adds a rich, smoky flavor while keeping the seafood tender and delicious," said Dustin Hilinski, the executive chef and director of culinary for Red Lobster, of the new menu. "The perfect addition to the upcoming summer season, we've also paired our seafood with bright fresh flavors, like our orange beurre blanc and fresh tomato-cilantro relish." 

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