Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Seasons 52 chef says fat does not equal flavor


CliffPleauDoes food have to be full of fat, sugar and salt to taste good?

Clifford Pleau, executive chef for Darden Restaurants’ Season 52 chain, where every menu item is 475 calories or less, doesn’t think so.

“I haven’t touched butter in 10 years. You don’t need it,” said Pleau, uttering words that would make the late, great, butter-loving Julia Child roll over in her grave.

“I know there’s a slogan that says fat is flavor. Scientifically that’s not necessarily true.”

Pleau says fat is a flavor “transitioner”. For example, the fat in short ribs can enhance the flavors of a rich, bold wine by taking it to different parts of your mouth. On the other hand, he said, a mouthful of butter or olive oil would desensitize the palate.

Check Out Line: Never-ending bowl of sales?


Check out what Americans like to eat. Apparently, it may be an endless bowl of pasta. OLIVEGARDEN-ILLNESS/

Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants posted a weaker-than-expected increase in same-store sales in the most recent quarter.

Olive Garden owner goes Green


olivegardenDarden Restaurants, owner of restaurant brands like the Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse, has joined the Sustainability Consortium — a group of scientists, academics and industry leaders working to “green” consumer products. 

Darden, an 1,800-unit restaurant chain considered one of the industry’s best performers, has set a per-restaurant goal of reducing energy and water use by 15 percent by the year 2015. Long term, it aims to send zero waste to landfills.

Check Out Line: Have a helping of earnings


Check out the latest raft of earnings and outlooks kicking off the holiday-shortened week in the consumer world.

kraftKraft Foods, which makes Oreo cookies and Velveeta cheese, posted quarterly revenue that fell short of expectations, but said its recent acquisition of British chocolatier Cadbury would accelerate long-term growth.