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[Herald Interview] Well-being and ‘eat local’ trends key: pizzeria chief

Pizzerias are serving more non-pizza food items or adding local ingredients to save costs, gain a competitive marketing edge and strengthen consumer relations, said the CEO of a global pizzeria.

“More people are becoming aware of what they eat. They crave healthier food and prefer something fresh, less fatty, and familiar. We have an obligation to meet such demand,” said G.J. Hart, executive chairman, CEO and president of California Pizza Kitchen, in a recent interview with The Korea Herald. 
G.J. Hart, CEO of California Pizza Kitchen, speaks to The Korea Herald. (CPK)
G.J. Hart, CEO of California Pizza Kitchen, speaks to The Korea Herald. (CPK)

Hart oversees the California-based casual dining chain’s more than 210 restaurants in 10 countries, including six in South Korea. The latest one is in Lotte World Mall in southeastern Seoul and the company plans to open two or three more here by the end of the year.

For a start, more than half the menu is filled with non-pizza food such as pastas, salads and others. And all food is made with locally produced ingredients. Some are tailored for respective markets.

In Korea, all ingredients including tomatoes from a farm in Boseong, South Jeolla Province, to rocket and herbs from another farm in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province, are produced in Korea. And inspired by such ingredients, CPK Korea serves the Kimchi Mexadilla, a combination of Korea’s traditional pickled cabbage and the Mexican cheese-filled wrap quesadilla.

“With local ingredients, you can come up with something according to people’s lifestyles and preferences. While it is environmentally friendlier (with fewer emissions to deliver them than imported ingredients) it is more familiar with the consumers and many times healthier,” he said.

“There are people branding pizza as junk food, but with the right ingredients and the right recipe, it can be the healthiest and trendiest menu out there,” he said.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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