Red Lobster Wraps Up Successful Integration Into “The Next Food Network Star”

August 7, 2008 at 5:47 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. (August 7) – A first-ever promotional initiative between Red Lobster and Food Network was termed “very successful” by restaurant brand executives. In its most extensive integrated partnership to date, the company participated in season four of Food Network’s hit reality series, “The Next Food Network Star.” As part of the promotion, Senior Executive Chef Michael LaDuke appeared as a guest judge on this season’s fourth episode, helping select the winner of a fresh fish challenge that resulted in a unique and hot-selling new selection on Red Lobster’s “Today’s Fresh Fish” menu.

In the promotion’s first week, more than 680 Red Lobster restaurants in North America collectively sold 31,820 of contestant Kelsey Nixon’s Macadamia Crusted Tilapia with White Chocolate Beurre Blanc, surpassing projections for the company’s first partnership of this kind.

“For the first week after the episode aired, Kelsey’s dish immediately exceeded our expectations,” said Red Lobster President Kim Lopdrup. “Six weeks later, the dish continues to drive preference consistent with the other selections on Red Lobster’s chef-inspired ‘Today’s Fresh Fish’ menu.”

Kelsey’s innovative fresh fish dish has landed her a spot on Red Lobster menus until Sept. 1, and announced this week that Kelsey was also voted the “Season 4 Fan Favorite,” with 37 percent of the fan vote.

Kelsey’s Macadamia Crusted Tilapia with White Chocolate Beurre Blanc has not only been a big seller on Red Lobster menus, but it is also receiving rave reviews from food writers, bloggers and guests alike.

“This was a huge success from a culinary perspective,” said Red Lobster Senior Executive Chef Michael LaDuke. “Working with Kelsey and Food Network exemplifies our passion for translating innovative ideas into exceptional menu items for our guests as we continue to enhance our menu with a renewed emphasis on freshness and culinary expertise.”

In addition to featuring Kelsey’s dish in more than 680 restaurants, featured behind-the-scenes video from “The Next Food Network Star” Episode 4 and blog entries about Chef LaDuke’s experience as a guest judge. The site also featured a consumer recipe for Kelsey’s Macadamia Crusted Tilapia with White Chocolate Beurre Blanc and a video demonstration of Kelsey and Chef LaDuke preparing the dish.

To see more from “The Next Food Network Star” Episode 4, visit


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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."


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