• Pizza Executive Summit to explore healthy menu items as marketing tool

"Healthy" is a recurring topic and consideration in the restaurant industry, especially with recent menu labeling legislation and people's resulting heightened awareness. But there are many faces of what constitutes "nutritional" food, from calorie counts to sourcing to organic. Put this complicated rubric over the cheese-laden pizza industry, and you have a recipe for confusion.
 
This dilemma is the focus of the 2010 Pizza Executive summit Q&A Session, "A holistic approach to healthy menu items." Herein, industry leaders will present to executive-level attendees how to figure out the nutritional aspects of their menu and things that can be improved. Finally, they'll learn how to publicize and promote those valuable healthful aspects of their business to customers.
 
"Operators can sometimes view healthful dictates like some found in the recent Health Care bill challenging," said PizzaMarketplace.com editor Jennifer Litz, panel moderator for the session. "But menu labeling and other health-minded disclosures can be great tools for differentiation and customer appreciation, when done correctly."
 
Other presenters include industry leaders who are driving healthy options and awareness in the pizza sector, including Jeff Leach, co-founder of nationally expanding Naked Pizza. The New Orleans-based pizzeria has gone beyond the single-minded promise of organic to embrace the emerging food-you-can-use trend by promising pre- and probiotic crusts, multi-grain pizza, and all-natural, lower-calorie toppings.
 
Leach has experience promoting his company's holistic approach to healthy options. "We view ourselves as a social media marketing company that happens to sell pizza," he said. "We're trying to create the world's largest grassroots health organization through this (outfit)."
 
Peter Reinhart, cookbook author and baking instructor at Johnson & Wales University, will be the panel's expert. Reinhart has extensive experience developing healthful pizza recipes, including at his North Carolina-based Pie Town pizzeria, and as a consultant for Amys Kitchen frozen foods, for which he helped develop a gluten-free frozen pizza option. His books on pizza and bread include "The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread" and "American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza," which will be given to attendees of the 2010 Pizza Executive Summit.
 
Finally, moderator Litz has covered the world of natural, organic, sustainable and healthful foods in the world of pizza and knows the nuances, benefits and trends of each category.
 
The Pizza Executive Summit, the industry's premier event for C-level executive learning and collaboration, will be held June 13 – 15 in and around Chicago's new Hotel Palomar, a Kimpton property. This year's theme is "Collaborate, Innovate, Accelerate," reflecting executives' abilities to take part in invigorating discussions, discover new ideas for achieving excellence, and eventually implement these ideas to hasten success. For more information, visit the Web site.

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