Chefs seek growth in new venues, healthier menus

Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:30pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Lisa Baertlein

(Reuters) - Growth-seeking U.S. chefs and restaurant chains are using a variety of different recipes -- from new venues and ethnic-inspired flavors to targeting healthier eaters -- in a bid to expand their reach.

Chef Wolfgang Puck, best-known for his Spago restaurant in Beverly Hills, wants his company to resemble "Armani or any of the fashion houses."

Puck has high-end or "haute couture" offerings (Spago and Cut), a more casual "pret-a-porter" or ready-to-wear line (Wolfgang Puck Express and Wolfgang Puck Bistro), and licensing deals that put the chef's soups, pizzas and other grocery items in stores around the country.

Puck -- who was a celebrity chef before many of today's culinary stars were old enough to wield a knife -- said he wants to open more of his casual restaurants in airports around the world.

"I think it's really a good place for us to be. There are a lot of fast-food chains (in airports), but people today demand better-quality food," said Puck, who also sells cookware, small kitchen appliances and other gadgets.

Chef Michael Mina, whose restaurant group includes namesake eateries as well as Bourbon Steak and other brands, said partnerships with hoteliers like Bellagio in Las Vegas and the Four Seasons in Baltimore allow him to leave construction and other development issues to experts in those fields.

That means he can focus on food and restaurant operations.

"That's a huge advantage," said Mina.   Continued...