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Hilton gets healthy

Paul Keeler, a foodservice veteran at Hilton Hotels Corp., wants to be clear: The company's new menu enhancements aren't fashioned after a specific diet or guru. "It's really more of a culture, because it's a nutritionally based program that focuses on the lifestyle of our guests," says Keeler, VP of F&B for Beverly Hills, CA-headquartered Hilton, which owns and manages 336 full-service hotels and franchises more than 2,000 other properties.

The program is Healthy Flavors, a 54-item lineup that the company began rolling out last month in its full-service Hilton locations. The focus is on "the full range of healthful eating, rather than just an emphasis on low carbs," says Keeler, noting that the offerings will be available in dining rooms and lounges, as well as for banquets and room service.

"So whatever the environment, we can customize menus to what we feel the needs are of the guests," he adds.

Healthy Flavors, developed in concert with a culinary team at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, allows Hilton patrons to see each item's ingredients, including fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, protein, carbohydrates, and calories. Hilton also worked with a company that specializes in recipe analysis to break out and certify the ingredients in each of the categories.

"It's similar to people going down the grocery aisle and being able to look at the backs of the food labels," Keeler says.

In addition, Hilton chefs have the option to develop—and to have certified—their own popular recipes for integration into the program to take advantage of regional dishes and taste preferences. "And we can print recipes out for guests right at tableside," says Keeler.

Among the Healthy Flavors entrees are Pepper Tuna and Grilled Chicken with capers, citrus, and herbs.

Early next year, Hilton intends to make Healthy Flavors available at its Embassy Suites and Doubletree locations, as well as some of the company's non-branded hotels.

For Keeler, who oversees the Hilton Restaurant Group—a branded collection of on-premise concepts that is on track for sales of $38 million in 2004—it comes down to giving the company's foodservice operations a leg up.

"The food and beverage experience in a hotel is beginning to be more and more important," Keeler says. "It's about establishing that competitive edge."

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