food favors

July 9, 2024

Culinary Crafts Is One of Utah’s 100 Companies Championing Women


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Recently, we were pleased to learn that Culinary Crafts has been selected as one of Utah’s 100 Companies Championing Women.

This honor was given by Gov. Spencer J. Cox, the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, and the Utah Women & Leadership Project as part of an initiative supporting women in the workplace.

In their notification letter, the Governor’s Office complimented Culinary Crafts for the company’s “diversity in leadership roles, pay equality efforts, flexible work schedules, mentorship and professional development programs for women, and family leave policies.”

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Championing Women Leaders

Ever since Mary Crafts founded the company 40 years ago, Culinary Crafts has benefited from strong female leadership and relied on the talents, ingenuity, and tenacity of women. Currently, three of our six departments are led by female Directors. Our Head Baker and the Manager of our Kimball Terrace venue are also women.

Female leadership and insight give Culinary Crafts a huge edge in the hospitality industry. “I love that we have a pretty good mix in our team," explains co-owner Kaleb Crafts. "Women and men, old and young, experienced and newcomers. Our diversity gives us a constant flow of fresh ideas and perspectives. But diversity on its own doesn’t make a team stronger. You have to have a company culture where people know it’s safe to speak their minds and share their ideas…. The women on our team help make that a reality.”

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Championing Women in the Workplace

Like most jobs in hospitality, the catering field is notorious for its high rates of employee turnover. Attracting and keeping talented women on the team has been a high priority for us. Culinary Crafts is proud to have one of the lowest turnover rates in the business. Over 60 percent of our company, including most of the managers on our Events Team, are women.

“We are so lucky to have the talents and perspectives that women bring to our team,” says Meagan Crafts-Price, Director of Marketing. “Catering is an incredibly demanding industry. You have to have people who are flexible, personable, attentive, extremely organized, incredibly creative, and who work together seamlessly as a team…all while remaining calm under ridiculous pressure. And smiling.”

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A Female-Friendly Company

One reason that our team attracts so many women is wage equality. Culinary Crafts’ compensation is among the highest in Utah’s catering industry, and, company-wide, women are paid just as much as men working in the same position. They also benefit from regular salary raises based on how long they have worked at the company.

A second reason female team members stay with Culinary Crafts is the flexible hours. Team members choose which events they want to work, which means that women can adjust their own workload as needed. Some have even chosen to step away from work entirely for months or years at a time. “A lot of our team will work for a while, take time off for their families, and come back to work when they choose,” explains co-owner Ryan Crafts. “We want to support their career and life choices, wherever that takes them.”

Paid maternal and paternal leave (rare in the hospitality field) are a third way Culinary Crafts is championing women by creating a female-friendly workplace. We want to support women in their childbearing/rearing choices because their physical, mental, and emotional health is of vital importance.

These family-friendly policies have a hidden benefit for the company. “A lot of our team is made up of moms, and thank goodness!” Ryan explains. “The way they can juggle multiple tasks at once, react to constantly changing situations, dive in and do the dirty work when needed, and make every clients feel special and taken care of, that takes a level of grace and know-how that comes from being a parent.”

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Mentorship and Development

Culinary Crafts invests a lot to train and develop our team members because we want to see them successful, healthy, and happy in their work and in their family life. We hold regular paid training meetings to help all our team members continue to grow and learn, and we meet semiannually for personal interviews with team members to find out how we can support their goals and dreams.

We are always looking for opportunities to prepare and promote female team members who are ready to take on greater responsibilities. Sometimes that looks like one-on-one mentoring on the job. Other times it takes the form of culinary arts scholarships that the company has endowed. We also encourage our team members to expand their knowledge and skills by attending professional conferences and workshops. Recently, Culinary Crafts paid several team members to attend the International Caterers Association conference in Austin, Texas. At that conference, our Director of Staff Development and Head Chef (both women) accepted the Catie Award for “Best Catered Event of the Year.” Also, at that event, our founder Mary was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Feels Like Family

Part of the reason that the team at Culinary Crafts feels like family is that, in many cases, it literally is. Sometimes you’ll see two or even three generations of family members working the same event. But even if you don’t have relatives working here, there’s a familial feeling that pervades this place. The company hosts regular team-building events like bowling nights, barbeques, physical fitness challenges, and parties like renting Dave and Busters for a night. Our kitchen makes daily lunches for the team to enjoy together. (And with award-winning chefs in our kitchen, you can bet that those lunches are pretty great!)

There’s a genuine feeling of camaraderie and family among our team, and that dynamic greatly affects the quality of service we give and the level of care our clients experience. The women on our team have an awful lot to do with building that warm, welcoming work environment at Culinary Crafts.

July 2, 2024

Mesquite Grilled Trout


by Alan Starks

Field Kitchen Manager

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One of my favorite things about Culinary Crafts is the eclectic mix of people here. I work elbow to elbow with college kids and college professors, musicians, attorneys, writers, realtors picking up work on the side, stay-at-home moms who are sick of staying at home, culinary school graduates, beauty school dropouts, and even the occasional bum like me! It’s amazing how friendships form when people come together under the pressure of catering a big event.

Besides the diverse people I’ve met, working at Culinary Crafts has also introduced me to a wide variety of cuisines. I’ve learned to enjoy Indian, Persian, Japanese, Polynesian, and many others. This has been a big deal for me because I’m a lazy cook by nature. If I cooked only for myself, I’d probably live on low-effort dishes like lentil soup or ramen with veggies. But over the years, as I’ve been trained to prep entrees, salads, hors d’oeuvres, and all kinds of delicious Culinary Crafts specialties, I’ve learned to appreciate quality ingredients that have been prepared correctly.

Of all the different jobs I’ve done at events, the most fun has been running the grill. When I started catering, it was intimidating to grill 100 fillets of trout next to 200 rib-eye steaks! Now, it’s one of my favorite parts of the job.

Fish is especially challenging to grill because it’s so easy to overcook. This recipe includes the top tips I’ve learned about making perfect mesquite grilled trout.

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Mesquite Grilled Trout

(Makes 4 servings)


  • 2 fresh fillets of trout
  • 1¼ TBSP olive oil
  • ¼ tsp garlic
  • ½ tsp dill, dried
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 drop liquid smoke, optional. (The grilling process should give your fish a great smoky flavor, but if you want even more smoke, you can add this. Just be careful not to overdo it. Liquid smoke is very potent.)


  1. Cut fillets in half. Mix the other ingredients in a bowl and pour marinade over trout. Make sure fillets are evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to go onto the grill.
  2. Before you cook your fish, use a scraper to remove any old debris from the grill, but don’t use a wire brush—eating tiny wire filings in your food is no fun. After scraping off any loose debris, dip one half of a sliced onion in olive oil, then run the oiled onion back and forth over the grate to finish removing any debris and to give the grate a nice oil layer.
  3. Fill a chimney starter with mesquite briquettes and heat them until they have a coating of white ash. (Alternatively, you can use mesquite lump charcoal.) Spread the hot coals across one half of your grill. Allow the coals to burn down until you reach the right temperature. If you can hold your palm about five inches above the coals for 2-4 seconds before it hurts, that’s the right temperature to start grilling your fish.
  4. When the grate is the right temperature, place your fillets onto your grate directly over the coals. (I always put my fillets skin-side up at first because the side that cooks first (the one facing down) will be the best-looking side, so we’ll serve that side facing up.)
  5. Let your fillets cook undisturbed for 3 to 4 minutes—longer if the fillets are thicker than 1/2 inch.
  6. Carefully flip the fish over and let it continue cooking another 1 to 3 minutes, depending on thickness. Remember that after you take it off the heat, it will continue to cook itself for a while, so don’t wait until it looks completely cooked before you take it off, or it will overcook. Here’s the trick I use: I watch the line that runs down the middle of the fillet. When that line still looks a tiny bit raw but the rest of the fillet looks cooked, that’s when I take it off the grill.
  7. Serve your beautiful mesquite grilled trout “pretty side up” with mango, strawberry, or tomatillo salsa; chimichurri, or a sweet compote.

June 19, 2024

Sharing a Beer with Anthony Bourdain


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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Adapted from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook


  • 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


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


  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.”

June 16, 2024

Dirty Grilling the Perfect Steak


Okay, let’s be honest. There is no “perfect” way to make a steak. Grilling, pan-searing, oven broiling, smoking, reverse searing, steak tartare…there are lots of great ways to prepare a steak, and they all can lead to perfectly delicious results.

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But, in honor of Father’s Day, we want to share with you what is perhaps the “manliest” thing you can do with steak: dirty grilling.

Dirty Grilling

What is dirty grilling? It’s the simplest way to cook a steak. You simply slap it down right on top of the hot coals and enjoy hearing your guests gasp.

Okay, it’s not quite that simple. But it’s close.

As grillmaster Adam Perry Lang explains in his grilling guide Charred and Scruffed, grilling “dirty” means cooking your meat directly on your coals or at least so close to the coals that there’s no room for oxygen to get in and start kicking up flames (which we want to avoid, since too much flame can give meat a nasty acrid taste).

It takes a leap of faith the first time you drop that pristine steak directly onto a bed of hot coals, but trust us, your boldness will be rewarded!

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Why should you dirty grill your steaks?

The great thing about dirty grilling steaks (besides the fun of cooking like a caveman), is that (a) it’s super easy to do, (b) the cleanup couldn’t be easier, and (c) slapping a steak directly onto the coals feels like the epitome of "manning" a grill. Plus, (d) dirty grilling gives your steak a fantastic outer crust or “bark” while still leaving the inside juicy and tender.

How important is it to give your steak a nice sear on the outside? Personally, I think that a great crust is what makes steak worth grilling in the first place. If you cook the inside of a steak to juicy, flavorful perfection but you don’t have a good crust on the outside, then you have exactly half of a great steak. So yeah, the sear matters.

And dirty grilling can give you a fantastic sear.

While dirty grilling is, technically, a form of reverse searing, it has one huge advantage over a conventional reverse sear. Dirty grilling doesn’t take hours and hours. It’s just quick and…well…dirty.

And don’t worry: Your steak won’t end up tasting like charcoal. You will fan away any ash before you lay down your steak, and any bits of coal that may get attached to the meat can easily be brushed off. If you follow the steps correctly, you’ll be left with a wonderfully smoky, crispy, succulent steak, plus the pleasure of watching your guests’ jaws drop.

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In earlier articles, we’ve covered the grilling basics including how to choose your grill (e.g. propane versus charcoal/wood) and what tools are worth using. We went over how to plan, build, and maintain your fire . Now it’s time to put your grilling knowledge to work.

Start with the right steak.

If you want to do this up right, you need to start with a good, thick, dry-aged steak, preferably a Porterhouse or bone-in ribeye.

How thick? I’d say at least 1¼ inches, but 1½ – 2 inches would be better. And leave some of that outer fat on there, trimmed back to about ¼ inch.

Why dry-aged? The biggest obstacle to getting a great sear on a steak is surface moisture. If there’s water on the outside of the steak, a lot of heat from your coals will go into evaporating away that water. Instead, we need that heat to be used to activate the Maillard reaction that gives meat that wonderful fragrance and flavor of a good sear. If you're using heat to burn away water, you’ll miss that narrow window of time when your meat should be getting a great crust without overcooking the inside.


Dry-aging is when meat is stored under carefully controlled conditions. This gives time for the surface to dry and for muscles and connective tissues to start breaking down, making the meat more tender and flavorful. I prefer a steak that’s been dry-aged 28-54 days. Although most stores don’t age their meat that long (if at all), you can ask your butcher to let one age for you. (Shout out to Heritage Craft Butchers and the Harmon’s Meat Department in Orem whose butchers have been tremendously helpful to us.) Alternatively, you can order dry-aged wagyu beef online, but that can get unnecessarily pricey.

If the steak you want to grill hasn’t been sufficiently dry-aged, you can salt-dry it instead. Pack the steak on all sides in a covering of course salt. (Any kind of rock salt will do, but don’t use kosher/iodized salt or anything that’s ground too fine.) Leave the salted steak uncovered in your fridge for two hours. The salt should get wet from the moisture it draws from the meat. Rinse the salt off thoroughly and pat the steak dry. (It might seem like washing the salt off with water defeats the purpose but trust us on this.) Allow the steak to air dry in the fridge for two more hours.

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Don’t skip the salt.

Typically, when I grill steak I’m going to use a combination of spices, olive oil, and maybe some butter to baste as I grill. But grilling dirty presents a little bit of a problem. We don’t want anything on our steak that will burn in contact with the coals. Don’t confuse the Maillard process (which gives steak its nice, tasty outer crust) with burning; they are not the same thing. Anything that burns on the steak is just going to taste nasty. So we're not going to put much on the steak before it hits the coals.

But salt is the exception.

We simply can’t have a great steak without salt, and we need to add it before we grill. In fact, the best practice is to salt your steak a full 48 hours before grilling. Paradoxically, the more time the salt has to work its way into the interior of the steak, the less “salty” the finished steak will taste. Steaks that have been salted 48 hours in advance come out tasting well-seasoned, which heightens the flavor of the meat.

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Prepare your fire.

If you’re going to grill your steak dirty, you need to use lump charcoal fire, not briquettes or gas. Briquettes are full of chemicals that you don’t want touching your meat directly, and a gas grill misses the whole point of grilling dirty.

You’re going to want your fire very hot (that’s the main advantage of using a charcoal grill, after all), and the more rare you like your steaks, the hotter your fire needs to be. That may seem counterintuitive, but the hotter your fire, the quicker you can get a good sear on the outside, which means there’s less time for the inside of your steak to overcook.

Once you have your coals glowing hot, you’ll need to spread them out evenly so they lie as flat as possible. You’ll need enough coals so that when it’s time to flip your steak over, you’ll be able to move it onto fresh coals.

How should you arrange the coals?

That depends on which of two approaches you are taking to your dirty grill.

The first approach is to go full cave man and just slap that baby straight onto the coals. This has the advantage of being quick and easy, and it works great for relatively thin steaks.

The second approach (which you’ll need for any steak over about 1¼ inches thickness) is to slow-cook the steak first. Position your steak a few feet above the flames (as we do with our Santa Maria grill). Leave it there until the inside temperature measures 10 degrees below your target temperature, then lower the steak directly onto the coals to start that precious sear. Alternatively, you can zone your coals so that they are all off to one side, then place your steak on the other side of the grill. The steak can cook slowly from the indirect heat inside your covered grill. Again, once it’s 10 degrees below your target doneness (as measured by a meat thermometer), move it directly onto the coals to start your sear.

If you’re going to be pressed for time on the day of your grill, you can prepare your steak sous vide. That way, all you have to do on the day of your party is give it a great sear and enjoy.

Target internal temperatures

As a rule of thumb, here are the target internal temperatures you’ll want to hit with your steak. Remember, this is the highest temperature you want the inside of your steak to hit, not the point at which you take it off the grill. The internal temperature will continue to rise for a little while after you take meat off, so remove it from the heat a few degrees before it hits your target temperature. Otherwise, it will overcook.

  • Rare=120-125°F
  • Medium rare=130-135°F
  • Medium=140-145°F
  • Medium well=150-155°F
  • Well done=160-165°F
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Regardless of whether you slow-cook the inside of your steak first or skip straight to your dirty grilling, you’ll first want to fan away any ash from the coals. Give your steak a good basting in butter, then carefully lower it onto the coals so that it lies as flat as possible. Leave yourself room so that you will later be able to flip your steak onto fresh, unused coals.

Let the steak cook for two minutes undisturbed. Remove it completely from the heat, brush off any ash. Brush it with butter again and let it sit a few minutes so that it bastes and also rests the meat, letting the internal temperature continue to rise. Place it back onto coals with the uncooked side down for another two minutes. Repeat this process until you reach the needed internal temperature. The thicker your steak, the more gradually you’ll need to approach that target temperature, so the more times you may need to take the steak on and off.

All this “on again off again” movement may run counter to what you’ve been told about grilling. Counterintuitive as it may seem, it helps to cook the meat all the way through. The internal meat will continue to rise even after being removed from direct heat, while the outside of the steak will be allowed to cook. The goal is to let the inside reach its target temperature without scorching your outside, and tempering can help the steak gradually get there.

But I’m not supposed to turn the steak too many times!

The old adage that “turning the meat too many times will ruin the steak” is nonsense, especially in the case of dirty grilling.

Turning the meat multiple times allows for a more gradual, consistent cook, which is good. The main rationale behind the “don’t mess with the meat” rule was that multiple flips will mess up your grill marks. Well, with dirty cooking, you’re not going to have any grill marks anyway.

But while we’re on the topic, let’s dispel this pesky myth of grill marks. The reason grill marks are appealing is that they visually signal that the meat has been grilled and thus received a bit of Maillard reaction wherever the meat touched the hot grill. Well, since Maillard browning makes meat more delicious, why confine it to a small area? Why wouldn’t you want that deliciousness all over the surface of your steak?

You would!

So forget about trying to get grill lines onto your meat. When I see a piece of meat with grill lines, that just tells me that the fire wasn’t hot enough to give the whole surface a proper sear.

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Once your steak has reached an internal temperature 10 degrees below your target temperature, take it off the coals and brush away any clinging debris. Wrap it in tinfoil and allow the meat to rest for 10 to 20 minutes so the meat fibers will soak back up all the juices. (If you were to slice the steak open right away, a lot of juice would spill out of the meat, and you would lose a lot of flavor.)

Dressing your Board

As your steak is resting, make a board dressing. Take a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a little salt and pepper, a few finely-chopped herbs like rosemary and thyme, and maybe some microplaned garlic or shallots. Balsamic vinegar can add a little bite if you like. Mix these together and drizzle them onto the board you’ll be using to cut and serve the meat from.

The idea is that when you are ready to slice into the steak, some residual liquid will inevitably run out onto the board. You want that liquid to ix with your dressing. Then, as you cut into your steak, let each slice get a delightful dip in your dressing. Flavor, flavor, flavor!

Serving suggestions

Nothing beats the taste of a quality, well-grilled steak, but if you were tempted to top it with a special sauce or dressing, we wouldn’t blame you.

Here are a few of our favorite toppers for grilled steak here are Culinary Crafts.

And while you’ve got that grill fired up and running, here are a few of our past grilled recipes.

Happy Father’s Day to all you grillers out there, old and new.

Eat well!

June 6, 2024

Chef’s Dinner at Culinary Crafts


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Question: What do you get when you give Culinary Crafts chefs license to make anything they want?

Answer: Magic!

We held this special Chef’s Dinner event in our own Pleasant Grove kitchen so that diners would have a ring-side seat to see innovation and culinary creativity conjured right before their eyes.

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A foyer full of playful smoke and bubbles set the mood for an evening of adventure and fun. As guests met and mingled, they were treated to bubbly champagne with smoked trout and caviar hors d’oeuvres.

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Meanwhile, in the kitchen our chefs were already hard at work concocting something truly special.

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Our youngest chef, Haylie, prepared a unique appetizer of cotton candy foie gras.

Everyone knows that fats and sweets pair well. (That’s why so many desserts contain both butter and sugar.) But recent food trends blur the lines between savory and sweet. In Haylie’s dish, the richness of goose liver and sautéed butter received a boost from the sweetness of cotton candy. We paired it with an excellent Sainte-Croix-du-Mont (usually a dessert wine) which helped to balance the savory foie gras.

At first, guests were amused at the cute and playful idea. But when they tried it, they were shocked at how well the ingredients combined.

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With the magic of molecular gastronomy, we turned a classic margarita into a spherified cocktail you can eat off a spoon! A sprinkle of Tajin gave it an extra kick.

We served it with a tasty bite of scallop ceviche.

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First Course

The first course of the chef's dinner took a traditional French terrine and broke all the rules. Instead of the typical meat filling, our chef used radishes fresh out of the ground. Raw radishes can taste sharp, but the butter and salt of the terrine slowed down their bite. Cut thick and served on rustic artisan bread straight from our bakery (with a crackling outside and chewy middle), it had guests begging for more.

The wine we paired it with needed to be acidic enough to cut through the butter, so we served our Culinary Crafts Albion White, bottled in Park City by Old Town Cellars.

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The next course took “salad” to a whole new level. Petite frisée lardon nest—translation: a little curly nest of bacon with poached eggs, local micro greens, and a house-made vinaigrette. Diners refreshed their palates with our Culinary Crafts Towers Rosé or nonalcoholic Zilch Brut Rosé. roasted carrot, creme fraiche, squid ink tapioca

Third Course

This intriguing bite was roasted carrot and crème fraîche on a squid ink tapioca cracker. We paired it with Elusive Chardonnay from Park City’s Old Town Cellars. Diners had an option of a non-alcoholic Waterbrook Chardonnay.

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Fourth Course

Porcini donut on raclette foam paired with an edible negroni made with Madam Pattirini Gin from Ogden’s Own distillery.

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Fifth Course

The togarashi-seasoned ahi tuna was delicious in its own right, but the real star of this course was the Sakura Cha (Japanese Green Tea), featuring local spirits Tsuku Saki and Holystone Tsunami Shochu.

Owner Ryan Crafts—a mixologist who has won a Catie Award for his cocktail creations—developed this unique cocktail with jasmine blossoms, salt-cured cherry blossoms, pears, and grapefruits. The glass porthole canteens made eye-catching table decorations until it was time to pour in the drink and start the infusion process. Guests watched the blossoms gracefully unfurl and the tea slowly turn a delicate pink.

It was a vivid reminder that we eat and drink with our eyes first.

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After a rich dish, nothing cleanses the palate like a buzz button. These tropical blossoms, also known as Szechuan flowers or electric daisies, have a peculiar effect when you pop one in your mouth. As Chef Brandon, our Culinary Director, explained to guests as he passed them out, buzz buttons will make your mouth tingle and your salivary glands go nuts! All that saliva will cleanse your palate in no time.

But be careful. Buzz buttons can leave your whole mouth numb if you overdo it. Half a blossom is plenty.

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Sixth Course

Next, Chef Hunter served up a Five Spice MacFarlane Pheasant. Pheasant has a particularly robust flavor, and wild pheasant can taste gamey, but Chef Hunter chose farm-raised pheasant and prepared it with a strong blend of spices that smoothed out the taste.

We were excited to pair this dish with a pinot noir from Old Town Cellars in Park City. The pinot is a lovely wine, but we seldom get to use it with poultry dishes because it would overpower something like chicken. Hunter’s pheasant was an ideal paring because it held its own.

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Seventh Course

Next up came pink peppercorn prime flat iron steak, served with succotash and paired with Park City’s Old Town Cellars Outlaw Reserve Cabernet / Waterbrook Cabernet.

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After so many bold flavors, we wanted to wind the meal down with a light treat that wasn’t overly sweet. This blood orange tart was a citrus mousse in a classic tart shell, with subtly sweet whipped cream. Paired with Château Rieussec Sauternes 2016 , it was our co-owner Ryan’s favorite course of the whole chef's dinner.

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Cheese and Sodas

We love to highlight the best products for local producers whenever we can, and this cheese tasting comprised three cheeses made by Beehive Cheese in Ogden, Utah. Paired with three local sodas, they made a delicious interlude between dessert courses.

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Dessert Reprise

Then (since one dessert is never enough) we surprised guests with one more bite. This opera cake eclair, coffee pastry cream, and chocolate ganache was served with a milk-washed antrim cocktail made with Josephine Eau de Vie from Pleasant Grove’s only distillery, Clear Water. A milk-washed mulled cider from Utah’s Rowley's Red Barn Farms was the non-alcoholic alternative.

To commemorate this Chef’s Dinner event, we gave each guest a custom cutting board engraved with the evening’s menu. Hopefully, every time they use it in their own kitchen it will serve as an inspiration to experiment in the kitchen, have fun with food, and share the joy of hospitality.

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