Sodexo has announced a master retail license agreement with celebrity chef Mai Pham to bring the fresh Southeast Asian flavors of her Star Ginger Asian Grill & Noodle Bar concept to Sodexo operations across the country. Scheduled to debut this fall at Sodexo-managed college/university and B&I sites, Star Ginger will be Sodexo's first stand-alone Southeast Asian retail platform.
Pham, a respected national authority on Asian cuisine, created Star Ginger based on the flavors and culinary insights she gathered and crafted while operating restaurants, writing cookbooks, teaching, consulting, and conducting research in Asia over the last 20 years. The license agreement grants Sodexo the right to open and operate the Star Ginger concept at its various managed locations for the next 10 years.
"Star Ginger is inspired by the street foods that I grew up with in Vietnam and later in Thailand," Pham says. "It's fresh, Asian food-on-the-run—food that doesn't depend on expensive ingredients yet delivers high-impact flavors. The concept represents how we want to eat today—more healthfully, with a bigger focus on quality ingredients and a good measure of culinary adventure. I am so excited to be working with Sodexo to share this amazing family of flavors with a wider, national audience."
The menu will include the best of Pham's newly opened Star Ginger restaurant in Sacramento featuring fast-casual choices, as well as her nationally acclaimed Lemon Grass fine dining restaurant, which has been operating in Sacramento for more than two decades. Dishes include Vietnamese pho noodle soup, salad rolls, wok-fried rice noodles including pad Thai, aromatic curries and Pham's version of Vietnamese toasted banh mi sandwiches.
The core of the Sodexo Star Ginger menu is built around Vietnamese and Thai flavors, with supplemental flavors added over time from other parts of Southeast Asia, Korea, India and beyond. The concept features three menu options to choose from depending on demography and location; the smallest, "express" menu options range from noodle bowls to Vietnamese sandwiches while the larger, more elaborate menus will also include grilled dishes, salads and rice bowls.
"Consumer data shows that our guests are looking for adventuresome and exotic flavors and bringing the fresh, bright authentic flavors of Star Ginger and Southeast Asia to Sodexo clients fills an important role in our brand portfolio," says John Nappier, vice president of business development for Sodexo's Retail Brand Group. "These on-trend Asian flavors, together with Chef Mai Pham's expertise and ability to inspire others with her passion for the flavors of her native Southeast Asia, create an unbeatable combination to offer our clients."