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.

Is KFC’s Double Down a double whammy?


KFC’s new, artery-choking Double Down sandwich is getting lots of media buzz — but is it helping the brand?

The breadless “sandwich” is just the latest in a long line of decadent dishes from fast-food chains. It features bacon, cheese and “the Colonel’s” special sauce sandwiched between two boneless grilled or fried chicken filets.  It’s a low-carb dream but a healthy eater’s nightmare as it is loaded with calories, salt and fat.

School lunch vs. junk food


School lunch ladies around the United States are fighting to feed healthier food to the nation’s increasingly overweight student body,  but their biggest obstacle is competing with fast-food chains like McDonald’s and junk food like Doritos

lunchboysIn Los Angeles, the country’s second-biggest school district is serving up increasingly nutritious and lower-calorie food (the photo at right shows two Castelar Elementary students’ lunch choices).

Free grilled chicken from KFC


kfcgrilled001KFC introduced its long-awaited grilled chicken on Tuesday and will give away free tastes on April 27.

The fast-food chicken chain hopes the healthier poultry items will boost flagging sales at its U.S. restaurants.

Campbell Soup’s CEO steps up


conantCampbell Soup CEO Doug Conant, who spends his day selling soup, V8 vegetable juice and crackers, wrapped up his appearance at the Reuters Food Summit in Chicago with an exercise tip.

“Our lives are incredibly chaotic,” said the 57-year-old CEO, who says he has found an easy way to step up his exercise and burn off calories from some of his favorite foods, such as Campbell’s tomato rice soup and a grilled cheese sandwich made on his company’s Pepperidge Farm bread.