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Offbeat ingredients create exotic flavors

Photo by Maria Jose Subiria
Monika Jones, a cashier at the "Proof of the Pudding: Fresh Gourmet" kiosk, stands next to her register as she oversees her area. "Proof of the Pudding" has three kiosk locations on Concourses A and B.

Photo by Maria Jose Subiria Monika Jones, a cashier at the "Proof of the Pudding: Fresh Gourmet" kiosk, stands next to her register as she oversees her area. "Proof of the Pudding" has three kiosk locations on Concourses A and B.

By Maria Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

The operators of a new set of quick-serve food outlets at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport say they are offering passengers a healthier menu, with unique ingredients.

Concessions International, LLC, a store operator at the world's busiest airport, recently introduced a new dining option it is calling Proof of the Pudding: Fresh Gourmet. Three kiosks are now in operation: on Concourse A, near gates A18 and A28, and on Concourse B, near gate B10.

"The Proof of the Pudding: Fresh Gourmet kiosks opened to help provide a highly desired element for travelers: great-tasting food that is healthy for them, and convenient to purchase on the go," said Anthony Joseph, president of Concessions International. "Proof of the Pudding is unique, in that it offers numerous options for those interested in heart-healthy menu items in general, and for those who are vegetarians."

"We are excited about the healthy and flavorful options that the new Proof of the Pudding: Fresh Gourmet kiosks offer our guests who regularly travel in and out of Atlanta, as well as those passing through," said John Cugasi, director of the Concessions Division at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Proof of the Pudding specializes in catering services, food-service management and specialty-brand concepts, according to the company's web site.

Janice Wilmer, creative director for Proof of the Pudding, said the company is involved in a partnership with Concessions International, and was responsible, in part, for developing the menu.

"We felt like it was a trend that people in the airport wanted, and we felt there was a niche there that no other food-service company had really tapped into," Wilmer said. "We wanted all the recipes to contain fat and sodium that was 15 percent lower than the USDA guidelines."

Passengers are able to choose from an array of salads, sandwiches, cereals, fruit, all-natural cookies and gluten-free chips, said Wilmer. She said all of the food Proof of the Pudding provides is fresh, and is prepared in Concessions International's kitchen at Hartsfield-Jackson.

"The airport has so many food options ... We felt like there was a lot of sandwiches out there, a lot of salads out there, but that companies weren't looking at the ingredients that they were putting in there," said Wilmer.

According to Wilmer, instead of using the typical mayonnaises and mustards on turkey sandwiches, Proof of the Pudding replaces the condiments with balsamic onion marmalade. The company also excludes food items such as high-fat dressings and fatty cheeses from its menu.

"We sell a yogurt, called Rachel's Wickedly Delicious yogurt, that is a lot healthier," said Wilmer. "It is basically lower in fat content, and it's a more unusual yogurt.

"It uses more exotic fruits, [for] slightly more exotic tastes," she added.

Chef Jeff Call, product development manager for Concessions International, said he collaborated with Proof of the Pudding's Chef Vagn Nielsen to create the menu for the concept.

Call said the menu also includes "super foods," such as almonds, spinach and berries, which are higher in antioxidants thought to help prevent some health conditions.

"A prime example is the Dijon apple sauce on the ham sandwich, with apples," he explained. "By using this sauce, we were able to take away the cheese that is normally associated with ham sandwiches, without taking away the pleasing texture that comes from eating cheese.

"Eating healthy doesn't have to be bland and boring ... Eating healthy has great flavors," said Call.

According to LeMonica Hakeem, director of strategic initiatives and administration for Concessions International, the store operator worked on a previous concept with Proof of the Pudding called Plane Delicious, which operated from 2000 to 2007 in a storefront at Concourse A, and also in three kiosks on Concourses A and B. In 2007, the old concept ceased operating in the storefront, but remained in business at the three kiosks. It was replaced, in April of 2009, by Concessions International's Proof of the Pudding: Fresh Gourmet concept.

Hakeem said the difference between the new concept and the old one is that Concessions International and Proof of the Pudding have created a menu that takes healthy eating to another level, by avoiding the typical ingredients and replacing them with innovative, and unusual, healthy food items.

"It wouldn't just be your typical mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce and tomato," Hakeem said of the common sandwich ingredients.

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On the net:

Proof of the Pudding:

www.proofatlanta.com