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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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Appetizers

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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Salad

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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Dessert

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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May 16, 2024

Tips for Using Edible Flowers

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Whenever we garnish a dish with marigolds or drop a pansy into a cocktail drink, at least one guest will inevitably ask “Can we eat the flowers?”

The answer is “Yes! Yes, you can.”

In fact, you can do a lot more than eat these flowers, if you know what you’re doing!

We’ll show you how edible flowers can be a simple, sophisticated way to add color, flavor, and fun to any meal. But first, a little quirky history!

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A Brief History of Edible Flowers

If you grew up sipping the nectar from honeysuckles or daring your friends to eat a dandelion, you already know about edible flowers. But you might not know that the use of edible flowers is a tradition that goes back thousands of years.

In fact, flowers are featured in the world’s second oldest cookbook! The Art of Cooking, a collection of ancient Roman recipes, mentions violets, roses, mallows, and other flowers as key ingredients on Roman tables around 30 AD. Interestingly, the author of most of those recipes, Marcus Gavius Apicius, was a food enthusiast known for hosting lavish banquets and serving exotic dishes like flamingo, ostrich, gazelle, and a liquor made from fish. After partying away his enormous fortune, Apicius could no longer afford his accustomed lifestyle, so he deliberately poisoned himself with his final meal.

Apicius’ story leads us to two important warnings:

1. Not all flowers are edible.

We can’t stress this strongly enough! Many flowers are naturally toxic, and even the edible varieties are dangerous to consume if they’ve been treated with chemicals. That’s why we don’t advise anyone to forage for their own flowers unless they have extensive knowledge of the subject and are sure that the flowers they pick have not been treated with any kind of pesticide, herbicide, or other “cide.” Also, we recommend introducing an edible flower into your diet a little at a time to see if you have any allergies or adverse reactions.

2. When it comes to edible flowers, don’t overdo it.

There’s no need to break your budget to spice up your table with edible flowers. We’ll show you how to find them for a reasonable price…or even grow your own. Read on!

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Which edible flowers should I try?

It’s worth repeating that you need to be very careful when selecting which flowers to eat. We would never suggest ingesting any flowers you find alongside the road or in someone else’s garden. Grow your flowers yourself or buy them from a vendor you trust, and be sure to ask whether they’ve been chemically treated.

All that said, here are some of our favorite edible flowers:

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Calendula

These bright orange blossoms work especially well with savory dishes because they have a slightly peppery, tangy flavor.

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Pansies and Violets

You could be forgiven if you can’t tell the difference between a pansy and a violet. Technically, pansies are a type of violet. If it has four petals pointing up and one petal pointing down, it’s a pansy. True violets are generally a little smaller than pansies and have two petals pointing up with three petals pointing down.

Both pansies and violets are visually gorgeous and have a pleasant, faint aroma. They are slightly spicy, but really, they don’t affect taste much.

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Lavender

It doesn’t have the vivid color of some other edible flowers, but lavender is fantastic for the distinct aroma it adds to teas, cocktails, lemonades, and other drinks. We use lavender sprigs on panna cotta and other baked desserts. Be sure to use culinary lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) because other strains of lavender can taste or smell soapy.

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Nasturtium

If we could only grow one type of edible flower, we would probably choose nasturtium. Most edible flowers are mainly for looks and/or scent; they don’t have much of a flavor of their own. Nasturtium, on the other hand, has a distinct flavor that affects the overall dish. It adds a nice peppery bite similar to watercress or arugula.

Unlike most flowers, the whole nasturtium plant is edible! Its buds, flowers, and leaves can be eaten, and you can even use nasturtium seeds as a substitute for capers. This versatile flower works well in a wide range of recipes.

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Squash Blossoms

Always a crowd favorite, fried squash blossoms taste fantastic. Filled with whipped goat cheese or ricotta and then deep fried, they are out of this world!

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Butterfly Pea Blossoms

If you want to add edible flowers to a beverage, you won’t find one more fun (or more nutritious) than butterfly pea blossoms. Read here to learn about the magical color-changing properties of butterfly pea blossoms.

Where can I get safe, affordable edible flowers?

You can order edible flowers online, but the quality and freshness are likely going to suffer if you don’t get them directly from growers. That’s why your best bet is either to grow them yourself or buy them through local vendors and farmer’s markets.

Brickhouse Growers in Orem is an excellent supplier for anyone alone the Wasatch Front.

Vertical Harvest is another wonderful vendor in the Wyoming/Utah/Idaho area.

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Other tips for using edible flowers.

  • If you grow your own edible flowers, pick them at a cool time of the day when they are at their best, usually early in the morning.
  • For most types of edible flowers, you’ll need to remove the pistils, stamens, sepals, leaves, and stems.
  • Wash your flowers thoroughly.
  • Make sure there aren’t any pollinating insects lurking inside.
  • When using edible flowers in drinks, one fun option is to freeze the individual flowers in ice cube molds beforehand.
  • Your flowers will last much longer and will taste sweeter if you candy them first.
  • When using edible flowers to enhance the look of a dish, remember to not overdo it. Think “contrast, not clash.” While a colorful blossom can liven up a monochrome or dull-looking dish, piling flowers onto an already colorful dish makes the whole thing look messy and overly busy. Use a light touch.
  • Have fun!
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May 7, 2024

Banana Crumb Muffins

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by Amber King

Wedding and Event Specialist

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I’ve always loved making birthdays and holidays special for my family and friends, often by preparing one of their favorite treats.

One year, in high school, I thought I would surprise my best friend and make her some Banana Crumb Muffins for her birthday. I got up early and followed the recipe that I had made many times before. The dough started to look a little odd—I didn’t remember it looking this chunky before—but it had always turned out fine, so I figured it was probably okay. When I took the muffins out of the oven, they still looked a little funny. Before I packed them up and took them to my friend, I decided to test one, and thank goodness I did!

As any experienced (or, honestly, inexperienced) baker will tell you, there is a big difference between “¾ cup of sugar” versus “¾ cup of salt”! The muffins tasted TERRIBLE! I was so disappointed that my birthday surprise was ruined. But my friend seemed okay with skipping out on a little school to go celebrate with a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin.

Lesson Learned

To this day, I double check myself whenever I’m about to add salt or sugar to a recipe. It’s a mistake you only have to make once.

This is still one of my go-to recipes that I have perfected. When made properly, these muffins are MUCH better than any egg McMuffin. The one tip I would add is to make sure the butter for your topping (not for your muffins) is at room temperature instead of melted. You want the topping to crumble rather than spread.

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Banana Crumb Muffins

(makes 10-12)

Ingredients for Muffins

  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted

Ingredients for Topping

  • ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp butter, softened to room temp

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly grease 10-12 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, beat together bananas, white sugar, egg, and melted butter.
  4. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon softened butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  7. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until centers are cooked through.
  8. Enjoy!

April 30, 2024

Whole Wheat Waffles with Cinnamon Buttermilk Syrup

By

by Harvest Hale

Events Team

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Made With Love

My grandmother is an amazing woman!

Maren Hale—or Mun, as the grandkids call her—is always thinking of others and has charity towards all. She regularly sends thank you notes and gifts to each of her 44 grandchildren, and her gifts are always chosen with great thought, not to mention being color-coordinated, themed, and wrapped in a beautiful basket! Mun’s homemade birthday and thank you cards always have paper punched hearts and a little symbol on the back that says “Halemark: Made with Love.”

As the mother of eight children, Mun always looks for opportunities to gather her large family. Such gatherings always include a delicious meal around a beautifully set table. We spend every Fourth of July at her house for a barbeque, and we enjoy monthly family Sunday potlucks at a local city park. When I was little, Mun and Grandpa Pops also hosted Waffle Day every Friday at their home.

Waffle Day

Waffle Day started with a hug in my grandparents' entryway. Pops always added an extra few pats on the back as each child hugged him around the knees. Then it was off to the cozy kitchen with shelves lined with dishes, seasonal decor, and treasures collected through the years from all the places they lived during military assignments. Mun and Pops started the Waffle Day feast by giving us a steaming bowl of some combination of broccoli, carrots, onions, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and chard, which was topped with Pop's special lemon sauce. Eventually, every grandchild learned to love these delicious and lovingly prepared vegetables.

Once we ate our veggies, we could start stuffing our chubby, eager faces with as many whole wheat waffles as we could handle. Mun, always dressed in a 3/4 sleeve sweater and apron, would have three waffle irons running at once to feed the grandchildren army of waffle monsters. Pops would lovingly butter everyone’s crispy waffle with homemade whipped butter, and I was always amazed at how he managed to get the whipped butter into every individual waffle square. Topped with berry or maple syrup, the waffles were then distributed to children in highchairs, table chairs, or barstools while the aunts helped to manage all the chaos, sticky hands, and waffle cutting. The food, the smells, the family--those waffle days were some of the best memories of my whole childhood.

Now that the grandkids have grown up and Mun and Pops have slowed down, Waffle Days are a treasured memory of the past. But my family still loves to eat steamed vegetables and a lot of waffles! Our family loves to make homemade buttermilk syrup to go on top too. Below are our favorite homemade waffles and buttermilk syrup recipes.

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Whole Wheat Waffles

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda

Instructions

  1. Blend together egg yolks, buttermilk, and oil in large bowl.
  2. Add wheat flour and baking powder. Beat briskly for 2 minutes until barely smooth.
  3. Beat egg whites in small bowl and fold into mixture.
  4. Bake in preheated waffle iron that’s been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Cinnamon Buttermilk Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Add sugar, buttermilk, and butter to medium saucepan. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  2. Add baking soda, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir well.
  3. Serve over waffles, pancakes, French toast, or ice cream sundaes.

April 26, 2024

Best Catered Event of the Year!

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Big news! The International Caterers Association has awarded Culinary Crafts the Catie prize for Best Catered Event of the Year.

In the catering and hospitality world, that’s like winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

To learn more about this event, read on.

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The Best Catered Event of 2023

This event was an outdoor adventure full of food, fishing, and fun.

In planning this event, we were inspired by Henry David Thoreau who “went to the woods” not to escape life but to live life more deeply.

In the rush of everyday life, it’s easy to become numb and to do things out of routine habit. Even the way we eat becomes thoughtless and automatic. We tend to consume our food as mere fuel, grabbing it on the go and racing on to something else. Our goal for this event was to help our guests slow down, attune to their beautiful surroundings, and truly savor the experience.

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The Venue

The perfect place to stage this event was the 4U Ranch in Peoa, Utah.

The 4U ranch is an enchanting, rustic venue on the banks of the Weber River. Towering groves of shade trees. Manicured lawns. Open horse pastures. A state-of-the-art timber-frame barn. A majestic rock cliff that towers over it all. It is truly breathtaking.

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Plus, the owners of 4U, Donna and Gary, are two of the most delightful and helpful professionals we’ve ever known. They generously shared their gorgeous venue and their expertise to help make the event happen.

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THE MENU

To help our guests be immersed in nature, we designed the menu to be primal and natural. No fussy foods. Just fresh, locally-sourced ingredients prepared onsite.

The menu read like an itinerary, presenting guests with opportunities to savor and reflect as they moved through the various activities and gorgeous venue spaces.

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This Epic-urean Immersion began in the barn where they were greeted with sparkling alcoholic and non-alcoholic wine. As they received an orientation and description of the upcoming experiences, they enjoyed truffle deviled eggs and trout caviar smoked in a cloche and then served on unsalted kettle chips with crème fraiche and chives.

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Tying Flies

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The first activity of the evening involved guests learning to tie their own trout flies under expert instruction.

Charcuterie Station

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During the fly-tying instruction, guests helped themselves to the full charcuterie spread featuring local Utah Beehive cheeses, fruits, berries, and honeycomb from Utah’s Slide Ridge.

Utah Craft Gin Bar

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A fully staffed bar kept guests refreshed with custom cocktails featuring local Utah products such as a barrel-aged gimlet made with Beehive Barrel Reserve gin, a Japanese slow-drip aviation with Madame Pattirini gin from Ogden’s Own, and a charred strawberry gin featuring Alpine Elevated.

Casting Lessons

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The party then moved outside where local fishing guides taught the guests how to cast with a fly rod.

Horses, Horses, Horses!

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A surprise visit from Summit Wagon and Sleigh gave guests a chance to get up close and personal with a pair of magnificent Percheron draft horses.

Into the River

Then it was time for guests to put their training to the test. Our river guides worked one-on-one with guests to try their hand at hooking a Weber River cutthroat trout.

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Riverside Repose

While some guests tested the waters with their newfound casting skills, others took advantage of the riverside lounge, games, and refreshments.

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A second bar, set up by the riverbank, served wine and cocktails to order.

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Meanwhile, butlers brought around pizza slices made fresh in our wood-fired ovens.

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The Main Event

At last, guests were led upstream to where their tables waited…in the river!

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What followed was a one-of-a-kind feast—exquisite food, excited chatter, and wine pairings for each of the four courses, all in the middle of a gorgeous river setting.

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We started with a roasted mushroom bisque served with fresh-baked artisan bread.

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We followed that up with tallow candles (a-MAY-zingly delicious when you melt them and then dip your bread in the tallow!), and roasted bone marrow with a High West Bourye chaser. You don’t have to pour the whiskey straight onto the bone, but it sure is fun to do it that way.

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We served the mesquite-grilled trout with peach salsa and a corn puree with blistered tomatoes, chorizo, and sage.

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For the main entrée, we served grilled Snake River Farms tomahawk ribeye with garlic herb butter and coffee flake salt, along with fried Brussel sprouts with bacon and Fresno chilis.

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As the evening waned, we treated our guests to a rainbow chard salad with melon, house-made ricotta, granola, and vanilla vinaigrette.

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Dusk comes early in the mountains, so the party moved back inside to enjoy dessert and wine.

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We’d made buttermilk vanilla panna cotta and rose gelee with fresh plums, mini macarons, candies pistachios, and rose petals, paired with 2017 Chateau Suduiratu Sauternes.

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Guests also enjoyed a tasting with samples of Utah artisan chocolates from Solstice, Amano, and Ritual. We paired these with a leather-aged chocolate negroni featuring Holystone’s Navy Bosun gin.

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Each guest found a little personalized gift to take home and commemorate the experience.

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After dessert, we lit a campfire to keep the evening chill at bay while guests enjoyed dessert, coffee, and after-dinner drinks. We were gratified to see that many guests lingered well into the night, laughing and visiting about what they had experienced.

A silver full moon put the punctuation on a beautiful event.

Best Catered Event of the Year

Earlier this year, some of our team who helped stage this extraordinary event traveled to Austin, Texas. There, they accepted the award for Best Catered Event of the Year. It was a thrill to be recognized for our work and to show the world a little of what Utah has to offer. As we’ve always believed, “this is the place” to throw a party!

catie wards, Best Catered Event of the Year, best catered event, Utah caterer, Utah premier caterer, ICA Catie Awards

How does the saying go? “Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and then treat him to an epic culinary experience in the middle of a river, and you give him memories he’ll savor for a lifetime.”

Something like that.

feet under table, eating in river, Best Catered Event of 2023, bare feet, wading, cold water, Weber River

27x winner Utah’s Best of State

24x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

1x Entrepreneur of the Year