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June 19, 2024

Sharing a Beer with Anthony Bourdain

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If you ever watched Chef Anthony Bourdain eating his way around the world in one of his hit TV shows like No Reservations or Parts Unknown, you understand why he was known for his genuineness, wit, and love for food and the people he shared it with.

As Anthony Bourdain Day (June 25th) approaches, we offer this reminiscence of Chef Bourdain from our Culinary Director, Brandon Roddy. Owl bar, Sundance, Utah restaurant, Utah Sundance, fine dining in Utah, Sundance restaurant, Chef Bourdain, Anthony Bourdain, wood chairs, bar, bottles, bar back

Back in 2010, the two chefs met when Bourdain visited Utah’s Sundance ski resort. Brandon was Sundance’s Purchasing Director at the time, and he was able to share an evening of beers and discussion with the icon himself, Anthony Bourdain.

Here’s the story of that memorable encounter, some thoughts about Chef Bourdain’s legacy, and a few ideas for ways you can celebrate Anthony Bourdain Day (plus a recipe for one of his favorite dishes).

As Chef Brandon Remembers It

“Chef Bourdain came into the kitchen and greeted all the cooks and chefs. He chatted with everyone, and then he invited us to join him later for drinks. That evening, my wife and I sat at the Owl Bar drinking beers and visiting with Anthony Bourdain. He asked us all about our lives and careers, and he was very interested in what we had to say. It didn’t feel like being around a celebrity. He was very down to earth, unpretentious, and funny. He talked about what really mattered to him. Mostly what he talked about was his family.

“We went on visiting and drinking for several hours, but he wasn’t in a hurry to finish or to be somewhere else. His whole philosophy about taking time to be with people and eat or drink together—that’s not made up. He really lived that way. You could see how much he loved meeting new people and trying new things. I don’t know what his politics were—he probably had different philosophies and beliefs from a lot of the people in that room—but it didn’t matter to him. He knew how to value other people and enjoy their company. For him, food was a way to connect and embrace life.”

That’s an ethic that we at Culinary Crafts fully endorse!

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The Ethic of Hospitality

The food industry is a lot of different things for different people, but for us it’s all about true hospitality.

The ethic of hospitality reaches back as far as civilization itself. In fact, in many cultures and religions (including Islam, Christianity, and Judaism), the practice of hospitality became a tell-tale sign that someone was civilized. Strangers and foreigners were owed food, drink, safety, and shelter without being made to feel that they were a burden on their hosts. It was seen as a great honor for hosts to offer their very best to a guest, the same as if God had shown up on your doorstep in the guise of a stranger.

Nearly all major religions espouse some version of the Golden Rule, “Treat other people the way you would want to be treated,” and Anthony Bourdain truly treated others the way we all want to be treated. He would meet people where they were, share a meal with them, and find what was admirable and good about them. He took the time to listen. Whether he was a guest in some foreign country or hosting a get-together in his own home, Chef Bourdain embraced the opportunity to connect with other people. He had a reputation for trying anything (from six-month-long fermented shark to fried rice with maggots to a warthog rectum in Namibia). And even when the food was disgusting, he was gracious towards those who offered it to him.

Well, that’s not entirely true. He had no patience for the makers of food who put no effort into what they serve. Food and drink prepared with little thought or care was an insult to him. He was bothered by any lost opportunity for joy and connection.

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Ideas for Anthony Bourdain Day

There are many ways we can all benefit from Chef Bourdain’s spirit of hospitality and joie de vivre. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Reach out to someone who may be struggling and share a meal with them. Spend the time to really get to know them better.
  • Watch a Bourdain documentary, preferably with someone else.
  • Learn about someplace new, starting with the local food. If you can, plan a food-centric trip to go there.
  • Support a local eatery you’ve never tried. Order a dish they’re proud of.
  • Share a recipe or food story of your own.
  • Have a conversation with someone who’s different from you. Focus on listening and appreciating them rather than arguing.
  • Cook and share one of Chef Bourdain’s favorite recipes. Here’s a variation on the easy-to-make French classic, rillettes (pronounced “ruh-lets”). Once you’ve tried this divine treat on toast (maybe with cornichon and a little Dijon mustard), you’ll want to share it with everyone you know!
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Rillettes

Adapted from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook
 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pork belly, bones removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • ½ lb pork shoulder (a/k/a Boston butt), bones removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bouquet garni (i.e. 1 sprig of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 1 leaf of bay, bundled together in cheesecloth
  • and tied with a string)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • ½ lb pork fat, cut into thin slices

Equipment

  • large, heavy-bottomed pot
  • mixing bowl
  • 2 forks
  • several small plastic or glass containers
  • plastic wrap

Instructions

  1. In the pot, cook the water, pork belly, shoulder, and bouquet garni over low heat, stirring occasionally for six hours.
  2. Remove from heat, discard the bouquet garni, and add the salt and pepper. Remove the meat and allow it to cool in the mixing bowl. (Save that liquid!)
  3. Use forks to shred the meat gently. You should still be able to see the meat’s fibers. Add back a little of the liquid if needed to reach a thick paste consistency.
  4. Divide the mixture into your small containers. Top each portion with enough slices of pork fat to cover the portion. Fold the mixture together in each container, then cover the containers with plastic wrap.
  5. Refrigerate the covered containers for 3 days.
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Serving Ideas

Allow rillettes to warm to room temperature before serving. Traditionally, rillettes are enjoyed as a spread on toast, crostini, baguettes, or crackers, often with mustard, pickled onions, or cornichons. Set out a jar of rillettes as part of a charcuterie board or lunch spread and watch guests gravitate to it.

Rillettes are also great with cheeses or hard-boiled eggs, in a sandwich, or used to liven up a green salad. But the main serving suggestion for rillettes—as we learned from Chef Bourdain—is to enjoy them with someone else, preferably accompanied by a leisurely, meaningful conversation…and perhaps a beer.

This year, may you enjoy the spirit of true hospitality and the pleasure of eating and drinking with good company. As Chef Bourdain wrote in his introduction to Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, “the greatest and most memorable meals are as much about who you ate with as they are about what you ate.”

January 30, 2024

For Kings and Commoners: The Weird History of Caviar

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Did you know that caviar used to be so cheap in the United States that it was given away for free in bars just to encourage patrons to drink? It’s true! Caviar—the delicacy that was once reserved for British royalty—was as cheap as popcorn and peanuts in the U.S. How did such a common food become a symbol of opulence and the epitome of fine dining? Read on to learn the wild and wacky history of caviar.

What is Caviar?

First, let’s get our terminology straight.

Not all fish eggs are caviar.

According to all the regulatory agencies that determine this kind of thing, the word “caviar” refers to the salt-cured, unfertilized eggs of a certain group of fish called sturgeon. The eggs of any other kind of fish are called “roe,” and even though they may be delicious, they aren’t caviar.

Unfortunately, the United States has not been very strict about regulating how the term is used, so the word “caviar” can get confusing in this country. You might see packaging that advertises “salmon caviar” or “trout caviar” when what’s inside is really salmon or trout roe. If that’s what you’re looking for, then great! Just understand that it’s not actual caviar. Don’t get us wrong; we love roe and will gladly serve it to guests or eat it at home. But it’s important to understand what you’re eating and what you’re paying for.

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The Weird History of Caviar

People have been enjoying caviar at least as far back as the Crusades in the 1200s and probably much earlier than that. Cultures around the Caspian Sea and Black Sea, especially Russia and Persia (now Iran), harvested caviar from huge sturgeon populations that once swam there. In fact, the word “caviar” came from the Persian word khâvyâr, meaning “egg-bearing.”

When caviar reached Europe in the 1500s, it was all the rage and was generally reserved for royalty and social elites. In Britain, sturgeon were even designated “royal fish” which meant that, by law, any sturgeon that was caught immediately became the property of the monarch.

Meanwhile, in the American colonies, European immigrants discovered that sturgeon were abundant in American waters. In fact, native tribes had been eating sturgeon and their eggs for thousands of years. In the early years of Jamestown (the first permanent English settlement in America) sturgeon and caviar were the primary food that saved the colonists from starvation.

Knowing that sturgeon and caviar could fetch a high price in Europe, the Jamestown colony sent boatloads of sturgeon back to Britain, but the fish were too perishable to survive the long voyage, especially during the hot summer months when sturgeon were plentiful in the James River. As the Virginia colony became more established, sturgeon fell out of favor with the colonists. They considered it food for the lower class, livestock, and slaves.

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Caviar’s Rise and Fall (and Rise)

The strange history of caviar took a surprising turn in the mid-1800s when thousands of new European immigrants to the U.S. began to favor sturgeon as a cheap source of meat. At the same time, European supplies of caviar were drying up due to overfishing. If there’s one thing Americans have never failed to do, it’s to identify a demand in the market and make money off it!

Caviar processing plants began springing up along the East Coast. For two decades, America became the leading exporter of caviar to Europe! But, just as Americans drove the passenger pigeon to extinction and decimated the immense herds of buffalo, it didn’t take long to wipe out the sturgeon. From 7 million pounds of sturgeon that were caught in 1887, the East Coast sturgeon populations plummeted until just 20,000 pounds were caught in 1905. By 1989, that number was down to 400 pounds.

In another weird twist, much of that caviar that was shipped to Europe was then reshipped back to America and sold as “Russian caviar” at a higher price. Meanwhile, American caviar that didn’t have that “Russian” label was being given away for free in bars as an inducement for patrons to buy more drinks.

As the East Coast populations of sturgeon disappeared, caviar producers moved on to the Great Lakes and then to the Pacific Northwest where sturgeon populations soon suffered the same fate. Overfishing, water pollution, and habitat loss have plagued all of the world’s sturgeon populations. Today, sturgeon are endangered or threatened everywhere on earth.

But the story isn’t over. For these magnificent fish that have been around since the age of the dinosaurs, these amazing creatures that can live for 100 years and reach sizes over 2,000 pounds, there may be some good news.

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A New Hope

In 2022, Iran, Russia, and the other countries bordering the Caspian Sea renewed a ban on the fishing of sturgeon in that body of water. Similar laws and regulations are meant to protect sturgeon populations in the U.S. and many other countries, and these conservation efforts have prevented sturgeon extinction despite a thriving black-market for caviar.

Although America’s wild sturgeon populations have never really recovered, producers have developed other ways to meet demands for caviar. Today, nearly all the caviar consumed or produced in the U.S. comes from surgeon raised on aquafarms. Additionally, American producers have promoted some excellent alternatives to true caviar, including “red salmon caviar” and “golden whitefish caviar.” Political unrest in Russia and Iran, historically the two main suppliers of caviar for most of history, has widened the door for American caviar and caviar substitutes to become more popular.

While you aren’t likely to catch bars giving away free caviar anymore, you can still find quality caviar or caviar alternatives at reasonable prices if you know where to look. Keep an eye on this page next month to see our tips on how to buy, prepare, serve, and enjoy quality caviar.

Eat well!

May 15, 2013

Woodland Whimsy Wedding on Style Me Pretty! | Wednesday Wisdom

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8f2101003604a827d52373320541f3c4 We loved this GORGEOUS woodland whimsy wedding (which was featured in Salt Lake/Park City Bride& Groom Magazine and you can see our post on that here) - and even more amazing?  It was featured on Style Me Pretty!  You can see their post here.  This day was STUNNING and working with fabulous vendors like Sarah Winward of Honey of a Thousand Flowers, Mara of Events by LMG, and Julie of Layers made it all the better!  Definitely check out the beauty of this wedding on Style Me Pretty!  You won't regret it!  Happy planning everyone! Check out more on Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering on www.culinarycrafts.com! Photo by Jesse Erasmus Photography

May 8, 2013

Ranch Chic Wedding, Part 1 | Wednesday Wisdom

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Today, I have another STUNNING wedding from last year that we just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  This wedding was packed full with so much loveliness, that I need to split it up into 3 more manageable morsels.  Today - the venue!  This ranch chic wedding was held at the High Star Ranch in Kamas, Utah and it is simply a perfect picturesque balance of rustic elements and natural beauty.  The couple chose to host their wedding here to show their out of town guests the splendor of the Utah mountains, but they didn't stop there.  The decor and food definitely took this wedding from pretty to GORGEOUS.  Seriously, so awesome, but lets start with the venue which set the scene for this amazing day.  Check it out! HoversonVenue The heavenly skies set off the lush mountain views perfectly.  The High Star Ranch is a one-of-a-kind venue that we can't get enough of! HoversonVenue2 We loved the sprawling layout of this event complete with a lounge area, dinner tables, multiple action stations, oyster shack, bean bag toss, and dance floor - the guest had plenty to see and do! HoversonVenue3 Isn't this just the most beautiful ceremony location?  A babbling brook, enormous shade tree, the base of a mountain - all together, just PERFECT!  We loved the way this ceremony set the tone for this gorgeous day. HoversonVenue5 Aren't these tables amazing?  We'll show you more of the pretty details, but we loved the natural color palette with the bright citrus pops.  A lovely combination for this mountain setting.  Plus the barn is hands down one of my favorite spaces!  Love the strung lights, rough hewn beams, and the character of it.  Just a great addition to this beautiful venue! HoversonVenue4 Don't you just love this place?  I can't wait to show you more from this wedding - because, believe me, it gets SO much better!  Stay tuned everyone!  Happy planning! Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering on www.culinarycrafts.com!

April 24, 2013

Catersource Spotlights Culinary Crafts | Wednesday Wisdom

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We at Culinary Crafts are still so AMAZED by our wins at Catersource this year!  Even more amazing?  Catersource did this wonderful spotlight of Culinary Crafts that we just couldn't help but share!  Check it out here.  This spotlight was due to our win of the ACE award in the Western division including caterers in California, Seattle, Hawaii, and Denver.  The ACE award is definitely the top award at Catersource and the competition was very stiff indeed!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to Catersource!  Happy reading everyone! Check out more on Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

March 13, 2013

IT’S OFFICIAL! | Wednesday Wisdom

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Oh my goodness!  It's official!  Culinary Crafts has won the ACE award AND the CATIE award for Caterer of the Year!  We are just so thankful and thrilled at this news and feel truly blessed to have such accolades.  We at Culinary Crafts always strive to be the best - and these awards are the cherry on top for all of the hard work everyone at Culinary Crafts does!  This is amazing, and we couldn't wait to share it with you!  Apart from this awesome, awesome news, we are still learning everything we can at Catersource, and can't wait to show you the newest tips and trends in the culinary world, too!  Happy Wednesday everyone! Check out more Salt Lake City, Utah County, and Park City catering at www.culinarycrafts.com! Photo by Mara Marian-Harwood of Events by LMG

March 6, 2013

Culinary Crafts Nominated for ACE Award | Wednesday Wisdom

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Finalists Announced for the Oscars of Catering…  Culinary Crafts is a finalist in two International Catering competitions! Recently, Catersource Magazine announced 26 finalists for the 2013 Achievement in Catering Excellence (ACE) award, and Culinary Craft's is one of them! This prestigious award represents the top caterers in all aspects of event execution and recognizes nominees in four regions of the United States-- East, South, Midwest and West-- as well as International caterers. Culinary Craft's is in "west" region of course, which includes caterers from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexio, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. That's a lot of caterers! The finalists and winners are determined by past winners of the ACE award, who represent Catersource's commitment to being the top resource in the events industry for caterers by caterers. Finalists must demonstrate excellent business acumen, top presentation skills, a commitment to culinary innovation, sales and marketing expertise, and excellence in all areas of event execution. The winners will be announced at the CaterSource Tradeshow in Las Vegas in March.  We’ll keep you posted!  In the meantime, check out the fantastic events from 2012 that lead us to this prestigious honor!  We are SO, SO, SO excited! Check out more award-worthy catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

February 27, 2013

Black & White Wedding Inspiration | Wednesday Wisdom

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As you all know, black and white is classic, chic, and striking.  This color combo has always been a wedding color palette that never really goes away - always there for the brides looking for the ultimate timeless feel.  While we have always had a handful of brides calling on this duo year after year, we are now seeing a BIG resurgence of black & white palettes in a huge way!  And not just for the classic, traditional bride either.  We are seeing it in edgy contemporary themes, Victorian vintage themes, whimsical graphic themes, and everything in between!  This palette is always a stunner and truly one of the most versatile pairings possible.  Our trend setters at Culinary Crafts saw this coming and were lucky enough to work with Riehl Events, Cake-A-Licious, Salt Lake/Park City Bride & Groom Magazine, Wildflower Linens, Distinctive Inscriptions, and Barrett Doran Photgraphy to create a dynamic and GORGEOUS sweet table for the magazine's 2012 issue.  So, armed with photos of that eye candy, I created this inspiration board with divine black and white details and a to-die-for Dior wedding gown to show you just how fun, different, and beautiful this palette can be! Happy planning everyone! Check out more Salt Lake, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com! Row 1: Dior Wedding Dress via Be Wedding Planner, Bouquet photo by Jen Huang Photography, Culinary Crafts macarons photo by Barrett Doran Photography | Row 2: Boutonnieres photo by Jen Huang Photography | Row 3: Shoes photo by Mademoiselle Fiona Wedding Photography, Invitation Suite design by Neither Snow | Row 3: Tablescape photo by Jen Huang Photography, Culinary Crafts sweets table photo by Barrett Doran Photography | Row 4: Culinary Crafts cake pop photo by Barrett Doran Photography, Plate menu photo by Kristen Spencer Photography

February 20, 2013

Chef’s Table Dinners | Wednesday Wisdom

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One of my newest FAVORITE trends for the upcoming year are the Chef's Table dinners!  This experience is perfect for any event and really makes the meal part of the overall entertainment.  The chefs are right there, table side, discussing the food, showing techniques and plating, and serving the meal for the guests.  Guests are enthralled as they learned about everything from the importance of local products to how to extract your own vanilla. Whether you are looking to wine and dine your guests, or just looking for fabulous dinner in the most intimate of settings, this is by far my new favorite way to dine!  Check it out! We loved this super chic and lovely event, plus the food was AMAZING! Here Mary is letting the guests know about the meal they are about to watch Culinary Crafts's staff prepare in front of them! The staff plated and prepared each guests's plate, making sure they all looked FABULOUS! Ryan even torched the Bistecca for the entree in front of everyone which was a definite thrill.  The flame thrower is always a crowd favorite! The ever talented Ryan doubles up on torches to bake the green beans with a parmesan cheese garnish.  SO YUMMY! This event was held at our venue, The Tasting Room, in downtown Salt Lake City!  We loved the rustic chic look of the event! Guests were greeted with these rack of lamb appetizers, a sommelier who educated the guests on wine pairings, and Culinary Crafts's staff preparing the menu's offerings.  So fun! This event even featured Culinary Crafts's chefs leading a cooking demonstration on the proper way to grill this GORGEOUS Utah trout.  Yum!  I love being able to go and enjoy fantastic food and then go home and replicate the techniques in my own kitchen!  Well worth it, in my opinion. We love that these Chef's Table events are popping up in our future events and really think that they are a great way to serve our delicious food.  At Culinary Crafts, we consider ourselves lucky to have the creme de la creme of staff members who can be out on the forefront of an event and serve in style!  Happy cooking everyone! Check out our website at www.culinarycrafts.com! Photos by Kelli Bramble, a Pepper Nix Photographer

February 13, 2013

Rustic Ranch Wedding Part 2 | Wednesday Wisdom

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Today is Part 2 of this FABULOUS rustic ranch wedding - and its all about the details!  This wedding was chock full of so many pretty and fun details and they really left no piece untouched.  From the signage, to the flowers, to the setup, everything had a personal, extra-special touch which our friends at Scenemakers designed and carried out flawlessly!  Now, on to the pictures! This couple really wanted to make this event about creating a new family, so they chose to do away with the traditional guest seating of Bride or Groom's side and allow the guests to sit where ever they liked by posting the sign "Choose a Seat, Not a Side" with GORGEOUS hand calligraphy.  We also loved the lavender pouches that gave for their ceremony recessional toss.  So fun! One of the best ways to maintain a consistent design feel is when a couple uses their wedding monogram, logo, or personal design throughout the event.  The couple's craved heart logo was seen on the menus, invitations, custom wood signage, seating cards, and blanket favors - which was FABULOUS!  (And a special shout out to Ann Elizabeth Design for all of the FANTASTIC paper goods she created!  So beautiful!) This romantic and airy seating card setup was rustic and beautiful.  We loved Ann Elizabeth's seating card tags and how Scenemakers used the aspens to create the framework for the display! The flowers were such vibrant and bold palette but were balanced but the neutral and burlap tones throughout.  We also loved that every floral creation was its own design.  This made for a visually interesting event that was anything but boring! The couple chose to give all of their guests custom blankets with their wedding logo as a memorable and useable favor.  The twine tie and fabric tag were a great way to "wrap" the favors too! Red Cliff Ranch's barn created a cozy and intimate dining space, which is taken up a notch by the long wooden tables which create a real sense of family and conversation.  Love!  Plus, the couple's Mason jar wine glasses and the elegant lavender tied ribbon balanced the whimsical with the classic - perfect for this couple! Nikki and Mike are such a perfect couple and we were blown away by the gorgeousness of this event!  When Red Cliff Ranch, Scenemakers, Ann Elizabeth, Culinary Crafts join forces for a fabulous bride, magic is made!  This event was so much fun and we just LOVED all of the beautiful details that came together to make this wedding one of a kind - definitely not one to be forgotten any time soon!  Thank you so much to Nikki and Mike for letting us share in this extraordinary day!  Remember, we have one more post with the fantastic food from this event!  You definitely don't want to miss it! Check out more on Park City, Salt Lake City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com! Photos by Logan Walker, A Pepper Nix Photographer

27x winner Utah’s Best of State

24x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

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