CT Restaurants to Celebrate New England Kelp Harvest Week with Kelp Dishes and Drinks

For a second year, the Sugar Kelp Cooperative is partnering with local restaurants, breweries, distilleries and cafes in Connecticut and Rhode Island to celebrate the harvest of locally grown sugar kelp.

The promotion, which runs from April 20 through May 1, highlights Connecticut’s native seaweed in restaurant dishes, baked goods, beers and cocktails. A growing list of entrants will be posted online at newenglandkelp.com.

The Sugar Kelp Collective is a group of five ocean farmers “helping sugar kelp find its rightful place on local plates throughout the tri-state area.” The collective was founded by two kelp farmers: Jonathan McGee, owner of New England Sea Farms in Guilford, and Suzie Flores, co-owner and operator of Stonington Kelp Co. off Stonington.

Oyster Club dish of kelp bucatini with sweet kelp aioli and shredded soy halibut.

Courtesy of Idlewild Photo Co.

As the collective planned for the first New England Kelp Week in 2021, McGee said he was thrilled with the chefs’ creativity highlighting the adaptability of kelp and that consumers would learn more about its nutritional values. . The local sweet kelp is high in calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, iodine and magnesium, he said, as well as fiber and omega-3s.

Health sites like Healthline tout the benefits of kelp, noting that it’s rich in vitamins and minerals as it absorbs nutrients from its surrounding marine environment.

Kelp is also regenerative and requires no inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, fresh water or topsoil — “just seawater and sunlight,” McGee said. He called kelp farming “really rewarding,” as a sustainable crop that not only helps filter carbon and nitrogen from waters, but produces a healthy food source.

During the Class of 2021, kelp appeared in Groton’s Outer Light Brewing Company beer (brewed as a stout with Mystic oysters), in bagels at New Haven’s Olmo (with dried roasted kelp), and in form of “fettuccine” with plain butter, bacon and manila. Shell & Bones waterfront clams at New Haven’s City Point. At Mystic’s Oyster Club, executive chef Renee Touponce created a kelp bucatini, served with a seaweed jalapeño aioli, and shredded soy-dried halibut over the pasta.

Oyster Club will also host a special Seaweed Dinner on April 24, a ticketed event with a four-course meal featuring seaweed from various cooperative farms. White Gate Farms in East Lyme is also hosting a ‘roots and sprouts’ vegan dinner that day, with a focus on sweet kelp.

Other organizations involved in the promotion include the Yellow Farmhouse Education Center, the Long Island Sound Ocean Cluster (LISOC), Greenwave, Rhody Wild Sea Gardens and Block Island Kelp.

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