Thursday, January 9, 2014

The CPK Journey

California Pizza Kitchen has unveiled their "Recipe for Reimagination". 

Hello Foodie Friends,

I had the pleasure of attending a special intimate behind the scenes tour where we were able to get "up close and personal" with CPK CEO G.J. Hart and hear firsthand about CPK's plans for South Florida.

G.J. Hart joined CPK in 2011, having come from running the successful Texas Road House chain. He informed our group of media and food bloggers that his interest is in bringing CPK back into the forefront by taking the soul and heritage that it is its core and bringing it relative. He called it "Brand Evolution".  They have a desire to be a trendsetter, a leader- not a follower. "California is a mindset", says G.J., "not just a place. It's about the open air, the people, accepting of others...daring to be different." He began by pointing out some of the immediate changes that were made there at the Ft. Lauderdale CPK where we were gathered; Namely, the addition of the beautiful bar with counter seating for 13 and additional high top and regular tables available. Signature cocktails such as the Citrus Adobe Margarita made with Casa Migos tequila and CA Roots made with avocado and garnished with a fennel salt rim were put out for us to try. CPK will be incorporating lots of fresh herbs into their creative cocktails, which can be enjoyed inside or on their new 325 square foot dog-friendly bar patio which offers an intimate lounge-style atmosphere for up to 21 people.  

 In addition to their specialty cocktails, they are rolling out a wine program, which includes the addition of brand new wine stemware for wine pairings and wine flights; At this particular location, they introduced a Wine on Tap, which utilizes reusable stainless steel containers, eliminating waste and maintaining quality from grape to glass; local craft beers are also a new welcomed addition. In the main dining room, the evolution of the hardscaping- from the yellow, black and chrome booths to a much more refined, still yellow comfortable ones, bringing it "relevant".

Some other notable changes you will find at this location are the addition of communal tables that include 8 and 10 seat family-style tables (perfect for foodie gatherings), a demographic CPK takes seriously- so much so that the company changed from using Pepsi to Coca Cola because this is what their customers wanted. They are appealing to a young and sophisticated clientele with higher income; those who are aspirational in nature.

Other stylish and practical improvements include the interactive pizza making counter which is now a focal point, giving guests the opportunity to interact with the pizza chefs watching their pizzas being made and even book their own hands-on pizza making parties. A couple of us had the opportunity to get behind the counter and try our hand at stretching and tossing their dough.
The dough, which once contained more added sugar in the past has been replaced with natural, lower sugar content. They even have a wonderful gluten free pizza, which we tried and I swear I didn't miss the gluten one bit!

Their menu has other gluten free items on it which are indicated with the "GF" symbol. There's also a new Health & Wellness - Light Adventures section introducing delicious, yet low cal options such as the quinoa & arugula salad; fire roasted chili relleno and cedar plank salmon.

Although Pizza is in the name of this restaurant, it is so much more. While we were listening intently to G.J., dish after beautiful dish was brought out before us to try. New on the menu are their small plates which include California Flatbreads. Made to order on their signature crust and baked crisp in their hearth oven, we tried all three: Bianco - Whippled truffle cream, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella and fresh sage ($5.99); Shaved Mushroom & Spinach - Cremini mushrooms, sauteed spinach, and California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil with Romano and Parmesan. ($5.99); Spicy Fennel Sausage & Poblano - Torn sausage, fresh Mozzarella, fire-roasted chilies and wild Greek oregano with spicy marinara. ($5.99). Other dishes that came out for us to sample included their popular chopped BBQ Chicken Salad, a Quinoa & Arugula Salad and the Chicken Tequila Fettuccine.

CPK is rolling out happy hour from 3-5pm and 8:30pm - close, Monday through Thursday at the bar. Offerings include an appetizer and drink menu with special prices on cocktails, wine, beer and select appetizers and small plates.

Look out for a future Denise's Foodie Event interactive pizza party coming to a CPK near you!

Until we eat again...
  I send you delicious wishes, xo


C.F.O. (Chief Foodie Officer)
Denise's Foodie Events

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