Erika Wasserman is the Vice President of Marketing for Explore Cuisine, a health minded food brand using high quality, organic ingredients to bring healthy pasta and noodle options to retailers and food service alike. Explore Cuisine was, until recently, Explore Asian however they have changed their name to reflect the wider spectrum of products they now offer. We spoke with Erika about what Explore Cuisine has to offer to the food service industry and what makes their product so unique.
Erika, how did Explore Asian start and how has it evolved into Explore Cuisine?
Our founder Joe Spronz is a food technologist. He was in China doing business and when he was walking the streets of Beijing he stumbled upon a nutrition store. He found tofu noodles and was amazed by the nutritional content and health benefits. So he came back and created the brand Explore Asian with bean pastas.
We just changed our name from Explore Asian to Explore Cuisine because we are exploring more than just Asia as the brand has grown.
What products do you offer for food service?
We offer five products for food service. Our black bean spaghetti and our edamame spaghetti both come in five-pound bags. Then we have our pad thai, rice and brown rice noodles that come in two ounce nests. Those are great for restaurants because they are portion controlled right out of the box.
Pasta products are a huge market. How do you stand out amongst so many companies?
Our pasta applies to everyone and fills every need. It is simple, with only one ingredient in the black bean spaghetti. Our products are also gluten-free, vegan, certified organic, kosher and diabetic friendly. The bean pasta has a glycemic index between thirteen and fifteen so you can have diabetics enjoying pasta.
Our black bean spaghetti also has twelve grams of fiber and twenty-five grams of protein in a two ounce serving which blows away more traditional forms of protein. You can make beautiful dishes and get amazing nutritional value. That is what makes us stand out.
What sort of food service operations do you market toward?
It varies, we are all across the board. Of course we are a slam dunk for regular vegan restaurants. Our product really allows them to expand their menus.
However we’ve also had more traditional restaurants who want to offer gluten-free pasta dishes using our products. Most gluten-free pasta does not hold up well. Ours does.
How does Explore market itself? What are the challenges and opportunities for a smaller company like yours?
We are still a very small company so that is positive and negative. There is a lot of growth potential. People are learning quite a lot about us through social media.
Additionally we are at the big trade shows. We attend Expo East, Expo West, the NRA Show and the Fancy Food Show. We want to do more in food service and will be looking for opportunities to grow.