This year, for the first time, the retail deli segment will be the focus of the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission as it sets out to encourage the use of grapes in foodservice, said Courtney Romano, foodservice consultant to the commission.

“We think grapes are a natural for retail deli venues,” Romano said.

“They can be offered as a fresh grab-and-go item and can also be used as a healthy, signature ingredient to upgrade salads, sandwiches and more.”

Grapes work well in salads of all kinds, from leafy greens to grains to proteins, she said.

They also pair well with cheeses, seafood and poultry, other produce and an array of global spices.

CIA partnership

The commission also will continue its partnership with the Culinary Institute of America this year, and the ProChef website “Grapes Make the Plate” will continue to be prominently featured and promoted, supplementing the commission’s own website,, Romano said.

The commission will continue to contact chefs and menu developers to provide new menu concepts and ideas, she said.

Regional chain Eat ‘n Park is promoting a California chicken salad sandwich with grapes through September.

In the fall, the company will bring back a seasonal harvest salad featuring chicken, grapes, pears and bleu cheese.

The commission is working on a number of other potential menu placements as well, Romano said.

Chefs, menu developers and operators can learn more about grapes from the commission’s newly released foodservice guide, she said.

Titled “Trends in Foodservice: Featuring Grapes from California,” the guide is a free, full-color booklet featuring tips and ideas on how grapes can “enliven the menu, elevate the fun and accent the plate.”

The commission also publishes a free full-color booklet called “Presenting Fresh Grapes from California for Catering Professionals” for those involved with catering,

The guides are available by calling the commission or by e-mailing