Dan Barash Online

Restaurant Nutrition by Healthy Dining with Chef Dan Barash
June 24, 2011, 6:29 pm
Filed under: nutrition

Anita Jones-Mueller: Congratulations, Dan. I read that you were honored by the United Fresh Produce Association for your creative and influential use of fresh produce at Moe’s Southwest Grill. That is really exciting!

Dan Barash: Yes, we were thrilled to receive the award. We take great pride at Moe’s in our food and high quality ingredients. We offer a lot of fresh produce, and that is an important component in our food mission.

Anita Jones-Mueller: Tell us more about your food mission.

Dan Barash: Moe’s Food Mission can be seen in action every day, in every one of our 430 locations. Our food mission is all about flavor and nutrition with fresh, quality ingredients as the cornerstone. Healthier for you food has always been the focus of our brand, and we see this mission as a living and breathing project that evolves based on customer expectations.

Anita Jones-Mueller: That is a great way to look at it. I like your food mission wheel. Tell us more about Moe’s cornerstone ingredients.

Dan Barash: We are always enhancing our ingredients to meet customer demand. Our food wheel describes our mission. Our steak is 100% grass-fed with no hormones added, we use organic tofu and all-white chicken breast. Our pork is grain-fed and hormone and steroid free. Our sour cream is all-natural with no rBGH hormones, it is lower in fat, better quality and, overall, rich and flavorful. In 2010, we also added the whole-grain tortilla option to the menu in both the 10” and 12” size. Our whole-grain tortilla options now account for 30% of sales, and that number continues to grow.

Anita Jones-Mueller: Those are definitely the high-quality ingredients that many consumers are now looking for. I can see why you have such a loyal following. I know you have some really great Healthy Dining-approved choices featured on HealthyDiningFinder.com. What other steps does Moe’s take to provide healthier choices?

Dan Barash: We have a loyal vegetarian following, thanks to our variety of vegetarian options and the fact that we have a separate grill dedicated to the vegetarian options. All of our food is free of trans fats and MSG, and we never use a microwave. We also offer over 20 fresh gluten-free ingredients for those who are gluten sensitive.

Anita Jones-Mueller: How about sodium? Our dietitians told me that you made some impressive reductions in your sodium levels.

Dan Barash: Yes, we’re also very proud of the fact that we’ve reduced sodium our menu board by 50% over the last two and a half years, something that more and more Americans are tracking in their diet. We did this by adjusting recipes, replacing salts with natural enhancers, using low-sodium sea salt and simply decreasing salt.

Anita Jones-Mueller: Wow! That is impressive. How about calories and menu labeling?

Dan Barash: We know how important nutrition is to our guests just by looking at our website analytics. The third highest clicked page on our website is our nutrition page, after the home page and the menu page. You can’t argue with that. Eight years ago, we launched an easy-to-use nutrition calculator on our website, long before the availability of nutrition information was such a hot topic. We are preparing to post our calories nationwide in the near future. We offer a low-calorie menu with less cheese and no sour cream options. We are also looking at ways that we can reduce calories in some or all of our items. But we won’t make any changes that compromise the taste that our customers love.

Anita Jones-Mueller: I know that you have a four and a half year old child, so you know how important it is to families to have a place they love to eat, whether on the run or simply enjoying a meal out. How does Moe’s Southwest Grill ensure that it’s a favorite among families?

Dan Barash: We are very family-oriented. We serve the food that makes the whole family happy. We offer a variety of healthful options on our kids’ menu. And, to add a little more fun, because fun is part of our company’s DNA, our kids’ meals are served on Frisbees to promote a fun way to exercise.

Anita Jones-Mueller: That’s a very innovative way to promote exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle! It sounds like Moe’s Southwest Grill is deeply committed to offering the flavorful and nutritious foods that guests today are looking for. Thanks, Dan!


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