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March 26, 2024

Savory Sixteen: The Tournament of Cheeses

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Last week we bragged on one of our favorite Utah partners, Beehive Cheese. Every year, they help us create some delicious new flavors of cheese to share at our events. The talented folks at Beehive are amazing!

Now we want to introduce you to a few of our favorite cheese flavors over the years. In honor of March Madness, we’ve whittled it down to sixteen of the best, going head to head to determine the champion. We've been been introducing the cheeses two at a time on our Instagram and Facebook stories. You can vote for your favorites in each round by clicking on the social icons at the bottom of this page. While you're there, feel free to follow us for all the delicious goings-on at Culinary Crafts.

Rosemary Cracked Pepper

Start with our classic Irish white cheddar. Then add fresh rosemary from the volunteer bushes growing outside our kitchen. Add cracked pepper and voila! A spicy kick with herbal notes, all nestled in creamy goodness.

rosemary and cracked pepper, white cheddar cheese, dried apricots, charcuterie, cheese knife

Al Pastor

Don’t let the plain look fool you; this cheese is anything but ordinary. Drawing from Lebanese-Mexican traditions for marinading meats, this unique cheese has a taste profile that’s both savory and sweet.

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Black Truffle Sea Salt

Coming into the competition as a top-ranked contender, Black Truffle Sea Salt is riding high on the team chemistry between truffles and cheese. Black truffles aren’t really black; they’re a very dark purple that turns to blue as they diffuse throughout the cheese, giving it a lovely marbled look. Truffles taste amazing with just about any cheese (including mac and cheese), and some say this match is unbeatable. But Black Truffle Sea Salt faces stiff competition in the first round.

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Chocolate Chipotle

If you’re familiar with Mexican mole (MOH-lay) sauce, you’ll understand why this Chocolate Chipotle cheese is always a crowd favorite.

We started with a classic mole dry rub with brown sugar, chilis, spices, and Mexican chocolate. Then we tweaked it to have just enough heat to get your attention but not overpower the creaminess of the cheese. Imagine this on nachos, tacos, refried beans…anything that needs a shot of smoky, savory sweetness. Some say this is the dark horse of the cheese tournament. We say, “Get in my mouth!”

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Curry On

Ever find yourself feening for a bite of spicy, succulent red curry? Well, now you are, aren’t you?

Added to any cheese spread or grazing table, our Curry On cheese will generate excitement on its own. But melted on a grilled cheese sandwich with mayo and a slice of very ripe heirloom tomato, this cheese may change your life!

The Irish cheddar we use is milder and more buttery than American cheddar, so Curry On makes a perfect complement between the creamy smoothness of the cheese and the zippy spiciness of the curry.

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Big Dill

Fans of dill won’t be surprised to see Big Dill making an appearance in the competition; it’s a perennial contender. Dill enhances an incredibly wide profile of other flavors, which makes it a safe bet for any charcuterie board, table, or spread. It may not have the flash of more exotic cheeses, but sometimes it’s the tried and true that wins.

If you are the kind of diner who likes a great pickle but thinks that most pickles overwhelm the taste of your burger, try skipping the pickle and melting a slice of this on your burger instead. Or try warming (not boiling) a kosher dog in a malty beer, char it on the grill, and add shavings of Big Dill and maybe some raspberry chipotle sauce. Heaven!

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Bye, Son

No, it’s not bison-flavored cheese. (Although we’d be up for trying that!) Bye, Son is our take on a cheesy version of Buffalo wings. The creamy white cheddar is just what’s needed to smooth out the heat of the buffalo seasoning. bye son cheese, buffalo wing cheese, spicy hot cheddar

Figgin’ Amazing

Probably the sweetest entrant in our “Savory Sixteen,” Figgin’ Amazing is for those of us who love our fruit and cheese all rolled up in one.

This was one of our most difficult cheeses to develop. First, the water content of fruits make them tricky ingredients to use in cheeses, even after they’re dried. Second, the natural sugars in fruit can throw the cheese off. It took a lot of adjusting and the addition of chives to bring a savory balance to the figs, but once we hit that perfect balance, “Figgin’ Amazing” seemed like the only right name.

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Good Thyme

Milder and more easy-going than most of the cheeses in this contest, Good Thyme is the kind of cheese you’d love to hang out with, just as its name implies.

With a subtle but complex flavor profile, it’s great to savor on its own. But Ryan says, “If I were pan-roasting chicken or pork with pasta and a light creamy sauce, I wouldn’t use the big Italian or French cheeses that typically go into pasta. I’d use Good Thyme. It’s a great cheese, either in a sauce with a roux or just grated over the pasta with olive oil and black pepper.”

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Chili crisp

Chili crisp has been a part of Chinese cuisine for centuries, but it only became popular in America during the pandemic. We use crunchy bits of fried peppers, garlic, and onions, similar in texture to Rice Crispies. One reporter describes the flavor of chili crisp as “the salty, crackly pleasure of potato chips with a just-right amount of tingling chili heat.” Throw in the creamy goodness of white cheddar and that makes a pretty good summary of this cheese.

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Smoked Pepper

Of all the cheeses we’ve made over the years, this was our mother’s favorite. We really wanted to make a cheese that brought in the wonderful flavors of smoke, but smoke just doesn’t penetrate well as a rub. Should we age the cheese and then smoke it? Smoke it first? Maybe slice it up and cold-smoke it? The answer turned out to be simple: smoke the peppers instead of the cheese. That way you get all the wonderful smokiness plus a little kick of pepper too.

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Tarragon Dijon

We’ve featured this unique cheese in charcuteries and cheese spreads, and it never fails to cause a stir. It’s delicious on its own, but our favorite way to use it is in a homemade sandwich. Try it with arugula and prosciutto (or just about any kind of salted pork), some homemade mayo, and maybe a little truffle aioli if you want to splurge. Un-be-lievable!

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Chive wasabi

Before you bite into this cheese, you need to understand that wasabi is not horseradish.

Yes, they’re related, but what passes for “wasabi” in America is usually just horseradish dyed green, and it tastes very different. Real wasabi doesn’t have that burn-your-face-off bite. It’s fresher and sweeter, and it enhances other flavors rather than overpowering them. That’s why this cheese plays so nicely with prosciutto, beef, seafood, cucumber and other vegetables, figs, citrus, even a beer.

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Cranberry Cinnamon

If you set out a cheese spread or a tasting table for the holidays, this cheese is an automatic must-include. The sweet/tart combination of cranberries and cinnamon, backed by the creamy smoothness of the cheesy, will have guests clustered around the snacks reaching for more. Gingerbread crackers can make it even more festive.

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Apricot habanero

When we started making this cheese, it was quite a battle. Our mother was worried that people wouldn’t like a spicy cheese, but Ryan kept trying to sneak more and more peppers into each batch. One year, mom didn’t come with us to Beehive to make the cheese, so Ryan was free to put in as much as he wanted. He overdid it a little, but ever since then we’ve made it with a good kick to offset the sweetness of the dried apricots and the honey rubbed on the outside. It’s always a guest favorite.

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Porcini and morels

When we make our annual trip to Ogden to make cheeses with Beehive, it’s usually in the late winter, which is the only time to get fresh morel mushrooms in Utah. We chop them up, dehydrate them, add salt and sugar, and combine them with another of our favorite mushrooms, porcini. Morels and porcini have a much fuller, meatier flavor than the button mushrooms you typically see at the store.

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So which cheeses would make it to your charcuterie finals? Let us know your votes.

Eat well!

November 13, 2015

Pop Up Restaurant Surprise Giveaway!

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We here at Culinary Crafts absolutely LOVE our Pop Up Restaurant series.  It is such a wonderful event which allows us to create truly one-of-a-kind dining experiences, which we love.  For our most recent dinner at The Tasting Room in Salt Lake City , our very own Mary Crafts-Homer sought to give away a pair of tickets to an unsuspecting couple - and we got it all on video!  Check it out! It was so much fun to capture their reaction and also re-live this amazing menu again!  I'm sure we will be announcing more Pop Up Restaurant dates soon, so stay tuned!  Happy dining, everyone! Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

February 21, 2014

Only One Week Left: Culinary Crafts Giveaway!

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Giveaway We are so excited to be a part of this giveaway with our partners at Utah Bride & Groom Magazine - and you should be too!  Not only does this include venue rental at our AMAZING downtown Salt Lake space, The Tasting Room, but you also get linens, tables, and chairs for up to 100 guests AND up to $3000 in catering ANNNNND a personal wedding consulation with our Mary Crafts-Homer!  Holy Hannah!  If you haven't entered to win yet, you need to stop slackin' and go do it right now!  Just head over to UBG's giveaway page.  The contest entry period ends on February 28, so you only have 1 week left to enter!  Good luck, everyone! Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

January 22, 2014

Culinary Crafts & Utah Bride and Groom Giveaway!

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Giveaway We are so stoked to let you all know that we have partnered with Utah Bride & Groom to bring you an AWESOME giveaway at our venue, The Tasting Room!  This giveaway includes use of The Tasting Room for a wedding reception, rehearsal dinner, wedding luncheon, bridal shower, or bachelor party for up to 100 guests, as well as tables, chairs, linen rentals, and even catering up to $3000 with a personal consultation for your event with our very own Mary Crafts-Homer!!!  Amazing, right?!  All you have to do to enter is vist UBG's giveaway page here and read the rules and enter to win!  The entry period ends on February 28, 2014 - so get a move on and enter right away!  Good luck everyone! Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!  

June 29, 2011

Spotlight On: Mary’s Wedding – Ceremony Menu

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Firstly, we would like to congratulate Abby Shephard for being our random winner of the Gelato Giveaway!  Thank you to everyone for entering and look out for more giveaways coming up soon!  Secondly, we are so excited her at Culinary Crafts to begin the celebration of our Mary Crafts's wedding weekend!!!  Just one day left and it all begins!  Today, we'd like to showcase the menu for Mary's wedding ceremony luncheon.  Take it away Rachel!

Menu Card by Ann Elizabeth Designs

"When developing the menu for Mary, I tried to keep in mind both Mary's immense love of Italy and also her passion for using only the freshest and most flavorful ingredients - and of course, keeping it local. At the ceremony luncheon, we'll be serving all of the dishes family style.  I really loved this idea because it emphasizes the feeling of bringing these two families together.  It will also be held in the afternoon, so keeping the menu really light and fresh, as well as incorporating the ranch feel, was key in tying it all together."

Thank you so much Rachel!  It sounds delicious and we simply cannot wait to see how it all comes together!!!

Check out our website at www.culinarycrafts.com!

June 21, 2011

Gelato Giveaway!

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In honor of the first day of summer, we are giving away a quart of our house-made gelato!!!  How do you win, you might ask?  Well, just find this post on our Facebook Fan Page, "like" it, and we'll select a random winner next week!  Pretty easy, right?  Good luck to all of you!  And a happy summer to you!

Check out our website at www.culinarycrafts.com!

May 27, 2011

Contest Winner!!!!

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I am excited to announce our Nutty Kernel contest winner!  Congratulations, Katy!  And here is the winning design!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered!  It was a blast seeing all the submissions!!!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  We'll be taking Monday off, so we'll see you again on Tuesday!  Happy Memorial Day!

Check out our website for more ideas at www.culinarycrafts.com!

May 20, 2011

Contest & Giveaway Reminder!!!

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Remember to submit your logo, monogram, or design for The Nutty Kernel contest by May 25th at 11:59pm!  You can check out the details here.  Happy weekend everyone!

Also, check out our website at www.culinarycrafts.com!

May 17, 2011

NEW CONTEST & GIVEAWAY!!!!

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I have been SO excited to announce our newest contest & giveaway from our friends at The Nutty KernelThey are the creators of the best caramel corn I've ever eaten and they are a local company to boot!  Even more of a reason to get an extra bag (or two...).  So, what is the contest?  Well, we are looking for the best wedding logo, design, or monogram you've made for your own event and whoever we choose as the winner gets 100 of these DELICIOUS favor bags filled with The Nutty Kernel's signature caramel corn, with your design on the tag! How awesome is that!?!?

So, how do you enter? All you do is send your logo, design, or monogram to blog@culinarycrafts.com in a .jpg, .eps, .pdf, .gif, or .png format by Wednesday, May 25rd at 11:59pm and we'll announce the winner next Friday, May 27th!

The finished size of the design needs to by 2" x 3" and horizontal to fit the favor tag.  Here are some places to look for help designing and some inspiration to guide you along:

Logo Ease

Forever Logos

Happy designing and good luck to you all!

Also check out our website at www.culinarycrafts.com!

Photo Credit: Jessica Prado

May 11, 2011

New Contest & Giveaway Coming Up!

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That's right!  We have another fabulous contest on the horizon!  Watch for it coming up VERY soon!!!

Also check out our website at www.culinarycrafts.com!

27x winner Utah’s Best of State

24x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

1x Entrepreneur of the Year