Hyatt debuts healthful kids' menu items

Hyatt debuts healthful kids' menu items

The new items are part of the hotel chain's plan to move toward offering more healthful, sustainable food

Hyatt Corp. on Tuesday began offering new kids' menu options that are part of a comprehensive plan to move toward offering more healthful and sustainable foodservice options throughout the chain’s hotel properties.

The Chicago-based hotel chain’s new initiative, dubbed “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served,” includes ambitious mandates that take step-by-step shifts toward the use of all-natural meats, cage-free eggs and sustainable seafood throughout roughly 400 foodservice outlets in more than 300 full-service properties worldwide.

Susan Santiago, vice president of food and beverage for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts’ North America operations, said the company began developing the program about 18 months ago after hearing increasing requests from guests and meeting planners looking for better dining experiences.

Hyatt’s research included beta tests comparing the consumer response to various healthful or sustainable dishes when listed on menus next to a more conventionally prepared version. Santiago noted that guests choose the healthful or sustainable option 30 percent of the time — even when it was priced at a premium. “We would have considered it a success if they chose it 10 percent of the time,” she said.

As part of the program, new menu options for kids are available throughout Hyatt’s full-service hotels in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, which include about 115 properties.

Among the new kids' options is a three-course organic menu for kids developed by renowned restaurateur Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif. Waters’ menu includes a romaine hearts, carrot curls and a radish rose for dipping in a lemon vinaigrette; grilled chicken with pesto sauce, roasted potatoes and cherry tomatoes; and strawberry and orange slices served with a honey-sweetened juice in a cup made from a real orange.

The larger kids initiative, dubbed “For Kids, By Kids,” includes dishes developed with input from children, such as 11-year-old Haile Thomas, who hosts an online cooking show called “Kids Can Cook.”

Dishes include Top Your Own Taco at breakfast with scrambled eggs and cheese in a whole-wheat tortilla with various toppings. At lunch, there’s a chopped salad with roasted chicken, vegetables, brown rice and a yogurt-basil dressing served in a container that kids can shake up themselves at the table.

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Dinner might include a small, all-natural grilled beef fillet with mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables and a salad; or vegetables and sesame rice noodles with marinated tofu — a nod to the increasing sophistication of the hotel’s young guests.

Kids can also order half portions off the adult menu. And, to make mealtimes more fun, kids with smartphones can use QR codes on the menu to link to a website with activities.

Notably not on the menu are the typical kid menu standards: chicken nuggets, hot dogs and burgers — and kids no longer get free refills on soda.

“Parents love it,” said Santiago. “They don’t have to tell their kids they can’t order the chicken nuggets because it’s not even on the menu.”

Hyatt’s menu moves come as a growing number of hotel chains are taking steps toward offering better-for-you and better-for-the-planet dining options in response to customer demand.

Santiago said Hyatt wanted to take its initiative further by installing a more holistic program that would eventually be woven into every aspect of the chain’s dining operations. The challenge, however, was finding suppliers that could meet the demand for products like cage-free eggs, organic produce and all-natural meats, she said.

Because of those sourcing challenges, noted Santiago, the expectations for compliance from hotels within the system will vary by brand even though the mandates are in place. Hyatt’s higher-end Andaz and Park Hyatt brands, for example, will be expected to meet all of the foodservice mandates by the end of the year. By then, most hotels systemwide should be able to say all eggs used throughout foodservice operations are cage-free, for example, and all restaurants and in-room dining menus should offer an all-natural beef burger.

Though the mandates won’t apply to existing restaurants not operated by Hyatt within the hotels, future contracts will require restaurant partners to comply with the standards, Santiago said.

Susan Terry, Hyatt’s vice president of culinary operations for North America, said the mandates are considered a starting point. “Some of our hotels are doing more,” she said. “It’s the beginning of a journey.”

The hotel chain has also set goals for reducing calories, sodium and sugars on foodservice menus over the next decade as part of a program associated with anti-obesity group Partnership for a Healthier America.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected] [7].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout [8]