Today’s Food Newsbits: Kraft Sells Frozen Pizza Division, Bayless Makes His Way to LA, Colicchio Reconfigures Craftsteak

As announced early Tuesday, Kraft Foods has initiated a sale of their frozen pizza division to Nestle SA. Seen as an opportunity to continue in their bid to buy Cadbury, the sale will net $3.7 billion for the food manufacturer, a surprising move as Kraft was the leader in frozen pizza development here in the U.S.

Mike Mitchell, a Kraft spokesman, said pizza “was not a business we were actually looking to sell.” Nestle approached the company during 2009’s first quarter, he said, months before Kraft announced its Cadbury bid.

Kraft opted to sell because its pizza business is limited to North America and would be difficult to expand overseas, Mitchell said. And because pizza has been doing well, it could be sold quickly and for a good price, which it indeed fetched, analysts said.

Some are skeptical as to whether it will make much difference in the buyout negotiations, with Cadbury disregarding Kraft’s plan as “tinkering.”

Despite his recent rumble with Illinois’s Department of Agriculture, Chef Rick Bayless, owner of Chicago’s Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and Xoco and winner of Bravo’s Season One Top Chef Masters, is taking his restaurant operations out west. Eater Los Angeles confirmed yesterday that Bayless will be leading the kitchen at two Red Onion locations in the LA area – one in West Hollywood and another in Santa Monica. Touted as ‘a modern Mexican restaurant/bar/lounge’, both locations are expected to open in May 2010.

In case you missed it, due to the holiday madness, Chef Tom Colicchio announced in late December that his Craftsteak New York location would be reinvented in 2010! Utilizing the same Chelsea space, Colicchio is set to open Colicchio & Sons with a menu more in line with his popular Tom: Tuesday Dinner concept. According to the chef himself, dishes will be developed in collaboration with [Craftsteak] chef Shane McBride with prices ranging ‘from $12 to $14 and $38 to $40.’

Could restaurant trends be to blame for the revision? Not at all, says Colicchio.

“The excitement for me has kind of worn out there, but mostly it’s the neighborhood. It has changed with the High Line, and with the economy people aren’t really coming out for $100 steaks. That aside, it’s a space I love, and I wanted to do something just a little personal there.”

~Jennifer Heigl

One reply on “Today’s Food Newsbits: Kraft Sells Frozen Pizza Division, Bayless Makes His Way to LA, Colicchio Reconfigures Craftsteak”
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