You don’t have to be New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to take a stand against sugary drinks and processed foods. Hyatt Corporation is putting its money where its collective mouth is by launching an organic and seasonal children’s menu for the mothership brand.
The idea behind the new menu is to provide whole foods that are not just nutritious but also fresh and where possible, locally sourced. It also is the next step in the company’s plan to increase the quality and overall nutrition of food available company wide.
“We are proud of this initiative. We knew one of our major goals for 2012 was to revamp children’s [food] programming because we are being told by customers this is what they want and see the shifting trends to health and wellness for children,” says Susan Santiago, vice president of food and beverage for Hyatt, which serves three million meals a year to kids. “Obesity overall in our country is an epidemic and this is the first generation that has the potential to live shorter life than the generation before it. We feel we have to address this issue. Our goal is to be the leader in industry and put healthful menus in front of guests so we can help to make their choice the easier healthier choice.”
Today Hyatt delivered its three-course organic meal for children developed exclusively for the brand by chef Alice Waters. Waters is recognized as a forerunner in the whole foods and organic foods movement through her famed Berkeley, CA restaurant Chez Panisse.
“All children deserve to eat real food,” said Alice Waters in a press release this morning. “I wanted to do a small, three course meal, within the context of Hyatt’s initiative, that could be sourced exclusively from organic farms across the country. Of course it’s about taste and ripeness and seasonality—but it’s bigger than that, too: it’s about supporting the people who are taking care of the land for our future generations.”
Alice Waters’ menu at Hyatt features:
- Romaine Lettuce Hearts, Carrot Curls and a Radish Rose with Lemon Vinaigrette for Dipping. “Contrary to prevailing beliefs, getting kids to eat vegetables is not difficult. We simply have to meet their most basic impulses: to eat something that is engaging and that tastes delicious,” said Waters. “The aliveness of textures and colors, as well as the ‘do-it-yourself’ nature of this salad, makes this universally appeaxling to kids.”
- Grilled Chicken with Pesto Sauce, Roasted Potatoes and Cherry Tomatoes. “This is a dish of simple grilled and roasted ingredients, served with a pesto sauce. The trick with something so straightforward is to be confident that the ingredients are the best that they can be.”
- Strawberry and Orange Slices served with a Sweet Juice in a Real Orange Cup. “The goal here is to appeal to kids’ imagination about ‘dessert,’ without feeding them unhealthy, sugary food,” said Waters. “A real orange cup filled with a luxurious amount of perfectly sliced ripe fruit feels special, and the juice is made with a touch of honey to sweeten it.”
Additionally Santiago says the company wants to help change children’s habits which would lead to a reduction in childhood obesity. So instead of free refills on soda, the company is giving away refills on milk. Additionally, don’t expect ‘fries with that’ as fruits and vegetables are now the default side items. Kids can also order half-sized portions of adult meals too.
The overall goal for Hyatt menus is to reduce sugars, sodium and calorie count where possible without affecting taste. To collaborate on other menus items Hyatt got its F&B directors and chefs involved in the process and then tested new foods on a cadre of kids.
“We learned children have more sophisticated palettes than ever before they are more apt to try things if they are a part of that process. So we made it very interactive,” says Santiago.
Select menu items include:
- Breakfast: Top Your Own Taco, a whole wheat tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, cheese and fun toppings; Waffle Dipping Sticks with peanut butter, maple syrup and fruit sauces.
- Lunch: Shaken Chopped Salad with roasted chicken, vegetables, brown rice and yogurt basil dressing; Build Your Own Whole Wheat Sub Sandwich with turkey, lettuce, tomato, cheese on a whole wheat mini-sub. (These offerings are also available during dinner hours).
- Dinner: Natural Beef grilled and served with potatoes, roasted vegetables and garden salad; Vegetable and Sesame Rice Noodles with marinated tofu, corn, green beans, basil and cherry tomatoes.
The Alice Waters organic program is rolling out in North America and the Caribbean. The coming in September is the Flavor Journey online experience, an online space Hyatt says ‘kids and parents can learn more about organic foods,’ check the “For Kids By Kids” menu and play games.
“We are very realistic with what we can do. This is really the first step in figuring out how to do these programs more comprehensively in the future. We think it will be easier over time as the leaders in our industry take this approach. We want others in the industry to follow because we know if we create that demand then the economies will be there,” said Santiago.
The Walt Disney Company is also working to add healthier foods to its menus within its theme parks as well and will no longer allow companies to advertise foods it deems unhealthy on its Disney branded television stations.
Additionally, McDonalds has been advertising a “Favorites Under 400 Calories” menu during the Summer Olympics.