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Sir Kensington’s  

Monday, January 30, 2017
filed under: Utilization/Trade

     College classmates Scott Norton and Mark Ramadan don’t have a background in the food industry.  Still, they are making their mark in the industry, one condiment at a time. The two started Sir Kensington’s in 2010.  Headquartered in New York City’s SoHo district, the company’s products, including mayonnaise made with sunflower oil, can be found in stores across the country.
       Scott Norton of Sir Kensington’s visited with Jody Kerzman about the company’s history, future and why sunflower oil is such an important ingredient.
Explain the idea behind your company.
       Sir Kensington’s mission is to bring integrity and charm to ordinary and overlooked foods. We realized that as food in America was changing for the better, condiments had been left behind. We started with ketchup, a quintessential American condiment, and have since brought better versions of mustard, mayo and eggless mayo to market. We all share a love of food with our customers and fans, who have embraced our distinctive flavors and ethos of clean ingredients.
What makes your products stand out?
       Most important, our products taste better. This sensory experience is what creates love for all food, and it’s our guiding light as we develop new products. We say that if we don’t love it, we don’t launch it; and we don’t make it unless we can make it better.
       We’re here to create something that’s different and unique that will inspire people’s cooking and eating. We choose the highest quality, natural ingredients, with an understanding of their health and nutritional impact. While it’s often out of sight for eaters, food is something that’s part of a much larger ecological and economic system; and as leaders in the space, we have a responsibility to the health and resilience of this system.
Can you tell me a little about the history of your company?
       From the beginning, starting with ketchup, we have taken a very collaborative approach.  It all started in college when we made six different batches of ketchup, assigning them all random numbers, and tested them on our friends by slipping invitations in their campus mailboxes that said, “Sir Kensington invites you to a ketchup tasting party.”  From then on, we realized that our quirky spirit and ability to take feedback by collaborating with potential customers were going to define us for the better.
What kinds of challenges have you faced along the way?
       In starting a business, especially a food business, nothing is easy.  There are unexpected challenges from all angles — from production, to people, to financing, and especially getting the word out there in a way that makes people comprehend your value in a way that compels adoption. Every business is vying for attention in order to survive, and it takes a lot of coordination, creativity and boldness to cut through the noise.
Why sunflower oil?
       In our recipes, we take a lot of inspiration from history and tradition. The first mayonnaises in Mediterranean France were made from sunflower oil, so that was our natural starting point:?to go back to the roots of this noble condiment before it was shaped modern industry. Sunflower oil has a neutral taste that supports the taste of rich egg yolk in the case of our classic mayonnaises, and the savory combination of kombu and aquafaba in our Fabanaise. It’s also never been genetically modified, and as we source all non-GMO ingredients, this is important for us.
Approximately how much sunflower oil do you use each year?
       We use one to two million pounds of sunflower oil every year.
What market segments do you supply?
       Our business is split between selling to the leading grocery retailers and distinguished restaurants. You can find our products in both natural grocery stores like Whole Foods, select mainstream supermarkets, and restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta and Denver.
What are the latest trends in the market segments you serve?
       People are embracing real food more and more, understanding that it can be both healthy and delicious. This is a great thing.  Being all natural, non-GMO verified, and produced with consideration to both process and final quality, you can definitely count us as supporters of this trend.                                       
       If you're going to have a grass-fed beef burger or a free-range deviled egg, why not dress it with the best?  Condiments are food too!
What is your customer’s perception of sunflower oil?
       Candidly, this is one we can't answer with much accuracy. There is so much confusion, misinformation and pseudo-science about oil out there.  Are there really “good fats” and “bad fats” that are the same across every metabolism and physiology?  There is so much education that can be done about nutrition in America to make us a healthier country, since health really depends on our understanding of what we’re putting in our bodies. 
       We also welcome more ways to talk about the benefits of sunflower oil through a compelling story, rather than simply its taste and clean non-GMO pedigree.
Are there any new offerings, new products at Sir Kensington’s?
       Our latest product, Fabanaise, is probably the most compelling new condiment of ours which features sunflower oil, though we’ve got a number of recent innovations that we invite people to try.  Our avocado oil mayonnaise is excellent, and we just redesigned our ketchup bottle to be more ergonomic and easy to use.
Are you doing advertising, PR, social media or grassroots efforts to promote your product? If yes, what?
       Last year we created a mobile frite shop in the form a food truck featuring our Fabanaise which we drive up and down the eastern seaboard.  That was met with tremendous embrace—somehow people like you a lot when you're giving out free french fries.  Our fans connect with us on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook on @sirkensingtons for recipe ideas and new restaurant recommendations.
What does the future hold for your company? New products? New promotions or marketing strategies?
         Yes, you can count on all of that.  I can't say too much, but follow along for new innovations and to see our story evolve.
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