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National Restaurant Association - Wolfgang Puck caters to healthy kids

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Wolfgang Puck caters to healthy kids

Food prepared simply and healthfully is often the best recipe, especially where children are concerned, says Scott Irestone, executive chef for Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar in Las Vegas. Irestone, an 18-year veteran of the Puck Restaurant Group, talked about why his company joined the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program.

Why did you become involved in Kids LiveWell?

We believe in eating healthfully ourselves so we wanted to give all of our guests – especially kids – more nutritious options to choose from when they dine out with us.

What are some big changes you’ve made?

The biggest change probably has been in the education of our staff. We wanted them to be aware of our more healthful items and able to speak to our guests with children about our Young Chefs menu, which showcases the options in a very engaging and appealing way. It’s very visual. It features games, riddles and crossword puzzles, and also highlights our nutritious items.

What items on the menu meet the Kids LiveWell criteria?

We have an entree consisting of grilled chicken, broccolini and sliced apples, served with a glass of 1 percent milk. We also offer two side items – baby peas or green beans.

How do you come up with items kids will like?

We’ve found they have simpler tastes, meaning they don’t want to eat foods with too many ingredients. Interestingly, this follows perfectly with Wolfgang’s philosophy – to let good ingredients speak for themselves.

So is the big takeaway that simple is better?

Yes, this rule almost always holds true.

What are the challenges and rewards of offering more healthful items?

One challenge is that not enough of our guests select our Kids LiveWell items. We’d like to change this and think our Young Chef’s menu could be a helpful tool. As far as rewards go, knowing we’re doing something positive to encourage more healthful choices is exciting.

What advice do you have for other chefs planning healthful kids’ options?

Don’t give up – it’s the right thing to do.

Pictured from top right: At Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar, executive chef Scott Irestone is committed to providing more nutritious fare for children; above right: the Young Chefs menu

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