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Event Tips and Planning

What is in season now? Our 10 favorite flavors of summer!

By | A Kitchen Like No Other, Culinary Crafts Marketing Foodies, Event Tips and Planning, Farmers Market, Food, Food Theory Thursday, How To, News, Recipe of the Month, Recipes, Tips

Summer is the best season for eating fresh local produce. It is also the time you can buy local produce almost everywhere! With all the neighborhood farmer’s markets and produce stands you can cook with the freshest ingredients and add a whole new level to your summer cooking! Here’s our list of 10 favorite summer flavors you can find fresh right now.

Apricots
Peaches
Berries of all kinds- Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries
Beets
Carrots
Cherries
Cucumbers
Melons of all kinds- Watermelon, Honeydew, cantaloupes
Summer Squash
Tomatoes

Next week we’ll be sharing one of our favorite summer recipes for you to try featuring some of these great flavors.

MEET ONE OF OUR FAVORITE GROWERS

Strong Vertical Farms

We would love to introduce you to Strong Vertical Farms! Debbie and Grant Strong started SVG out of their home in Park City, Utah in November 2012. It was their vision to provide locally grown fresh produce to chefs and grocery stores 365 days a year by growing indoors.

Five years later, they are in their new 11,000 square foot growing facility located in Charleston UT.  They utilize state of the art systems to accomplish the climate controlled environment needed to grow indoors. The facility has the most updated water treatment, LED lighting & nutrient injection systems available in the market today. Since they grow their greens hydroponically (no soil) the water and nutrients are key to delivering safe quality produce. The water is recaptured and reused then sent through an ozonating system that kills pathogens and bacteria insuring a safe product. The byproduct of this system is oxygen that enriches the plants flavor, longevity and appearance. The produce is grown without the use of herbicides or pesticides and is NON-GMO.  The produce is sustainable, consistent and protected from weather and pests.

You can find their fabulous microgreens and lettuces at select Smiths, Harmons in Holiday and Taylorsville, and Wholefoods. And, happily, they also sell edible flowers!

Hoping you can find time to enjoy all the vibrant flavors of this beautiful season.

Grilling 101: Ryan’s favorite tips and tricks

By | A Kitchen Like No Other, Event Tips and Planning, Every Day Life at Culinary Crafts, Food, Food Theory Thursday, How To, Recipes, Tips

Grillmaster Lessons

My love for the grill runs deep. In our family catering business, there were an array of tasks I was assigned at early ages. Most were forgettable (or unpleasantly memorable). Grilling was the first job that I actually enjoyed and felt I excelled at. I remember being 15 years old, carting around our rusty old barrel drum grills, breathing in dangerous amounts of mesquite smoke, singeing off all the hair on my hands and arms (and sometimes eyebrows), blistering my fingertips, shoveling out bucket after bucket of ashes every night….and loving every minute of it.

For me, lighting a row of 18 chimneys full of lump charcoal is as much a means to an end, as it is an end in itself. Searing 5000 fillets of trout is as much a duty, as it is a pleasure. Grilling dinner requires a long list of sometimes tedious steps. Yet rather than a chore, these feel like an indulgence. I grill to eat – I love the flavors. I grill to feed others – it’s my favorite role as a host. I also grill just to get right – you could say it’s how I ponder and pray.

Mastering the grill is long and arduous process. It’s also a fun and exciting process. I invite everyone to learn to grill. There’s something inexplicably rewarding about cooking dinner for yourself and your guests – especially outdoors over a live fire. Whether you already have an elaborate outdoor kitchen with many cooks under your belt, or whether you have never so much as roasted a hot dog over the campfire, I’d invite you to grill more. And start today.

 

What Is and Isn’t Grilling

 

I’m a stickler for proper and consistent use of language around the grill. Many outdoor cooking terms are confused, conflated, and otherwise misused. My first piece of advice is to learn the basic jargon and use it properly.

Grilling refers to a very specific type of cooking: cooking directly over an open fire, usually with a grill / grate / gridiron, and usually at a relatively high heat. Hence, a grill is a device that allows you to cook directly over a high heat open fire. These three elements are necessary conditions of grilling. Direct heat. Open fire. Potential for high heat.

Smoking ribs in your pellet cooker (like the very popular Traeger models)? Delicious, but NOT grilling. Brisket for 18 hours in your offset barrel cooker? Wonderful, but NOT grilling. Using a torch to sear a filet done sous vide to a perfect and precise medium-rare? Excellent, but NOT grilling. Pan searing a skin-on chicken breast in duck fat and herbs? My mouth is watering, but still NOT grilling.

What about cooking burgers over briquettes in your Weber kettle? That’s grilling! Cooking chicken over your built-in stainless steel natural gas grill? That’s grilling! Tossing vegetables in a wire mesh basket over a log fire? That’s grilling! Tri-tip in two stages on a Santa Maria cooker? That’s grilling! Reverse searing a garlic and chocolate rubbed dry-aged Wagyu ribeye over mesquite charcoal? That’s grilling (and btw one of my personal favorites)!

Choosing Your Grill(s)

There are lots of factors to consider when choosing a grill. Size? Lid? Portable, free standing, or built in? Able to BBQ / smoke using indirect heat in addition to grilling with direct heat? Adjustable fire trays? Adjustable cooking grates? Access to the fire? Available accessories? Quality of construction? Cost?

But the first question you need to answer is: gas / propane or charcoal / wood? Yes, there are some electric “grills” out there. But in general these blur the lines on whether they even meet muster for the strict criteria we outlined above. And although there are some hybrid gas and charcoal grills, you still need to be clear about what your primary and preferred fuel source will be, since different hybrids will have more or less appeal depending on your answer.

Pros and Cons of Gas / Propane:

  • Easy startup. Turn on the gas, hit the igniter. Even if your ignition system is broken, a stick lighter gets you going quick and easy. No lighter fluid, no chimneys, no heating coils, very little forethought and waiting required.
  • Easy heat management. Need it hotter? Turn the dial up. Cooler? Turn it back down. Very little practice and finesse is required to adjust and control your heat.
  • Easy cool down / cleanup. Tur
    n the gas off. Done.
  • Clean burning. Less smoke and fumes for you to breath and to float off into your local environment.
  • Limited temperature. Admittedly gas grills can get hot. And certain features (infrared burners) can ramp up the heat. But even the hottest gas grill can’t reach the temps you can achieve with a hardwood charcoal fire.
  • Limited flavor. True, gas grills create a wonderful maillard reaction with your food. And juices that drip below generally burn off into tasty vapors. Wood chips can be easily burned in a smoker box to create flavor. Nonetheless, even the best gas grills employing all these measures can’t match the wood flavor of a charcoal or wood burning grill.

As you might have guessed, the pros and cons of a gas grill are in comparison and relative to the alternative. Hence, the pros and cons of charcoal grills are generally the inverse:

  • Demanding startup. I use a chimney starter(s) for nearly all my fires. These are basically a fool proof method that require only a little newspaper and a match. Lighter fluid can also get a fire going quickly and easily. Nonetheless, these are more work and require more forethought than simply starting up a gas burner.
  • Demanding heat management. Need it hotter? You might need to add fuel. You might need to increase the airflow. You might need to sweep the ashes. Or some combination of these. Need it cooler? You might need to reduce the airflow. Or possibly remove some of the fire, or even spritz your fire with a little water. Eventually, the finesse to manage your fire will become second nature, but it requires significant practice.
  • Demanding cool down / cleanup. In general I prefer to let the fire burn itself out. This takes patience. Sometimes I need to actively extinguish the fire using suffocation or even ice / water. This can make for a big cloud of steam and soot. Either way, after the fire’s died, there will be ashes to deal with.
  • Dirty. More smoke and fumes for you to breath and to float off into your local environment. Although I’m a huge proponent of charcoal and wood fire cooking, I also support measures to protect our environment, especially improving air quality here in Utah. I think grilling on bad air days should be legally prohibited. Until we get there, I strongly encourage local readers to only grill with charcoal on clear days with no inversion.
  • Very high temperature. This is where charcoal grills really shine. Searing is a joy and at its best on a grill that is crazy hot. Gas grills just can’t compare.
  • Very rich flavor. Once you’ve had a burger cooked over mesquite coals, you can’t go back to one cooked over a gas grill or in a cast iron skillet. It just tastes better. A lot better.

As you read these lists, you might get the impression that gas grills win out. After all, they seem to best their charcoal counterparts in 4 of the 6 key factors considered here. However, it’s important to note that those lists simply outline, and do not weigh those factors. When I fire up the grill on the patio (as opposed to sauteing on the kitchen stove), it’s because I’m after the highest heat and deepest wood flavor I can get. So for me, the two areas where charcoal grills win are the ultimate trump cards.

Perhaps the best way to put my recommendation is this: I do not own a gas grill. At my house, I have 3 grills (also 2 smokers and 1 wood oven) and they all use charcoal or wood.

When shopping for a charcoal grill, the key features you want to look for are:

  • Airflow. The ability to control the flow of air to speed up or slow down your fire is crucial. You want vents below the fire and a lid above the fire that allows you to play with different variables.
  • Charcoal grate. Elevating the fire off the floor of the grill container allows the fire to burn efficiently, allows ashes to fall away. Some grills have adjustable charcoal grates which allow you to move the fire closer to or further away from the food.
  • Food grate. Cast iron grates are wonderful to cook on – just like your grandmother’s cast iron skillet, these season in, become naturally nonstick, retain heat wonderfully, and with care can last a lifetime. That said, other grate materials can also cook wonderfully. Most important is a gridiron pattern than prevents small and delicate foods from slipping through. And thick gauge materials that can take the high heat without warping and wearing through.
  • Ash removal. This is important, but doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, often times the simpler the better – a tray or bucket that ashes fall into that is easily removed and dumped is great. You just don’t want to have to shovel or vacuum out ashes after every cook.
  • Quality of materials. You want all the grill components to be thick gauge and heavy duty enough to last for years with reasonable wear and tear. Powder coat is better than paint and enamel coating is even better than powder. It’s awfully frustrating to buy a grill with fancy bells and whistles that looks great in the store, but is dented, rusted, and falling apart a year or two later.

A wonderful charcoal grill does not need to be fancy or elaborate. The kettle grill (a bowl with domed lid sitting on a trio of metal pipe legs) has become an iconic grill image precisely because it has remained basically unchanged for so long, and because the design works so well. Indeed, if I could only have one grill and it needed to be at a moderate cost, my choice would be easy: a Weber Original charcoal grill.

Tools of the Trade

Walk into the outdoor cooking section of your local hardware store and you’ll likely be inundated with an array of grilling tools, gadgets, and assorted accessories. It can be overwhelming to decide which ones are necessary, which ones are a luxury, and which ones are a waste. Listed below are how I like to break out and consider these items.

I set out these must have tools every time I grill:

  • Chimney starter – the best way to start charcoal. Avoid all the fumes, mess, and volatility of lighter fluid.
  • Gloves and apron – You want a 100% cotton, heavy canvas, or leather apron (any poly or poly blend will melt onto your clothes when you get your grill really rolling). And thick lined leather or cotton gloves. Tip – buying welding gear in the tool section is often cheaper than the nearly functionally identical gear in the cooking section.
  • Oil & onion – Don’t use cooking spray on your grill. Don’t use a paper or cloth towel. Dip the onion in the oil, and use this to lubricate and season your grates.
  • Tongs – I like tongs that are springy enough to release quickly, but not so springy that my hand gets tired using them. I like enough teeth on the ends to firmly grasp the food, but not so sharp that they bite into and shred the food. Most important, I like thick metal tongs that won’t go soft and flexy when they get hot.
  • Spatula – Just like the tongs, you want a thick metal spatula. Thin metal will flex, bend, and break if it gets too hot while cooking.
  • Fork – Again, thick and sturdy. Built to take the heat. I use this primarily for the oil and onion listed above.
  • Rake – A tool dedicated to breaking up, moving around, and sweeping the fire. I used to use my spatula, a rake is so much better. I use it all the time.
  • Basting brush – I prefer a silicone brush and/or a cotton mop. Natural hair brushes don’t last, especially when used over heat, and start to fall apart shedding hair into the food.
  • Thermometer – You want something digital with a fast / instant read. You’ll see units ranging from $10 – $100, but you should target the $20 – $50 range for solid quality and good value. My Lavatools thermometer is my favorite I’ve tried.

Although not necessary, these convenient accessories see a lot of use on my patio:

  • Grill basket – simply an alternative to your grate. This allows you cook smaller items that don’t work on a flat open grate, while still exposing them to the open fire and smoke.
  • Wood chip soaker – this keeps your chips under the water while soaking, so you don’t have dry chips floating on top.
  • Meat hook – I use this as an alternative to tongs when I’m grilling large amounts of meat and/or large cuts of meat. This allows me to quickly move food on, off, and around the grill without the constant squeezing of the tongs. Very handy in certain situations.
  • Meat claws – great for shredding pork butt or beef brisket. Also really great for moving very large cuts. Since these don’t have a long handle, you just have to be aware that your hands and arms will be close to the fire if you use these over the grill.
  • Dedicated grilling knives and scissors – you can certainly use the knives from your kitchen. But I love having a simple set (only includes a carver / slicer knife, a flexible boning knife, a small utility knife, and a pair of meat shears) that I keep in my grilling table always at the ready.
  • Spray bottle – using water on your coals is a last resort and short term fix for flare ups and other mishaps. But sometimes a quick fix is all you need and super handy to have ready.
  • Wood grill scraper – after grilling, I use this to scrape large bits of food off the grates, and let the fire burn everything else off. I try to avoid using wire brushes and cleaning chemicals on my grills.
  • Wood planks – a great way to infuse extra flavor and/or keep delicate food (like a whole salmon) intact while moving on and off the grill.
  • Kerchief – soaking this down and tying around your neck or over your face can be a lifesaver when the heat and smoke get too intense.

Additional tools that I only use occasionally / rarely:

  • Grilling stones – fun to use, but easy to crack if you’re not careful. Also, since these create a barrier between the open fire and the food, they limit the flavor impact you get from a great wood fire.
  • Silicon mat – similar to the grilling stones. Handy for certain situations, but I rarely use these.
  • Extra lighting – great if you travel with a grill and/or don’t have enough light in your yard.
  • Grill Brush – like I said earlier, I try to avoid using these (I prefer a wood scraper and the fire itself to clean the grill). That said, there are a few occasions where a little extra grit is required.
  • Skewers – I prefer flat and wide skewers to the round style. This way, the food doesn’t roll around on the wire.
  • Cast iron pan and wok – Can open options for you over your grill, but like the stones, they create a barrier between the open fire and the food, which kind of misses the point.
  • Smoker box – especially handy for gas grills that don’t have the flavors of wood and charcoal. Also useful in a lot of indirect cooking recipes.

 

Finally some of my favorite grilling (and BBQ) cookbook references include:

  • Weber’s Charcoal Grilling, The Art of Cooking with Live Fire by Jamie Purviance (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If you only buy one grilling book, feel confident about making it this one).
  • The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine Editors (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. In depth and exceptionally reliable information that helps you understand why certain techniques succeed, which helps you expand your own skill set and personal innovation.)
  • Charred and Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang
  • Essentials of Grilling by Williams-Sonoma
  • Feeding the Fire by Joe Carroll
  • Franklin Barbecue by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay
  • Smoke & Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison

 

Hopefully there’s enough here to get a new griller started. And hopefully even the seasoned griller learned something new. In both cases, stay tuned, I’ll be back very soon with more Grillmaster Lessons!

Ryan

 

 

 

Trend Report: Fête En Blanc 2018

By | Corporate Events, Culinary Crafts Events, Event Tips and Planning, Featured: Culinary Crafts in the Press, Food, Modern Wedding Style, Hot Tips for Cool Brides, Parties, Sharing the Love -Vendor and Client Relationships, Vendor Love!, Venues We Love, Wedding Trends

Today on the blog, I’m excited to FINALLY get to share the amazing Fête en Blanc event (hosted by Utah Bride & Groom Magazine) with you all!  This is THE premier event for the Utah Wedding Industry – and we were SO thrilled to work alongside the team of fantastic vendors to make this epic party seriously epic.  Check it out!

The event was hosted at Natural History Museum of Utah and was designed by Mara Marian of Fuse Wedding and Events – who wanted to take the party up a notch.  And, boy did she!  From our very own Mary Crafts-Homer:  “I love the direction that Mara and Fuse Wedding and Events was taking at this year’s UBG White Party [aka Fête en Blanc].  The eclectic color scheme, contemporary venue, the edgy vibe…”

Some of the AWESOME event planning team at Culinary Crafts enjoying the bash.  Such a great group of people!!!

Isn’t this design SOOOO cool???  We loved the variety and style of the rentals from Eclectic Hive.  Such a different look – but one that was perfect at Natural History Museum of Utah!  Plus, such a welcome option for people planning an event with a more unique vibe, don’t you think?

The florals by Kellie Jackstein of Artisan Bloom were jaw-droppingly beautiful (of course!) and we loved the modern, yet organic touch they added to the decor.

Another great element of this event?  All of the eclectic lounge spaces throughout the event.  Each one was unique and beautiful, but they all worked SO well together.  This was such a great way to get people to move through the spaces to see ALL of the details and encourage mixing and mingling – perfect for a networking party!

These fuchsia chairs are my favorite!  Such a fun pop amidst a neutral palette.  And speaking of lounge spaces, another note from Mary Crafts-Homer, “All [the event design] shouted to me for a new approach to the food service at the White Party.  No more food stations with long lines, but create a menu of all passed hors d’oeuevres with the food coming to the guests, not the guests coming to the food.  This night is about networking and from my own past experiences, I knew I hated hunting down the food.  The concept of an all butler-passed menu by waiters in all white uniformsb was a huge success!  I designed a menu of easy to eat, scrumptious, and exciting hors d’oeuvres that were loved by all.”

We served White Sangria (of course) for our signature cocktail/mocktail.  Such a refreshing, and pretty, drink for the party!

There were SO many delicious bites!  First up, Cold Smoked Utah Herb Goat Cheese on a Peeled Cucumber Slice with Micro Greens; Bacon Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese, and Honey; and Smoked Salmon and Curried Egg on Rye Crostini.  Yum!!!

Next, our Shrimp with Gazpacho and Lemon Zest; Skewered Watermelon, Mint, Feta, Balsamic Reduction, Black Salt, and Lime Zest; and Polenta with Pecans and Macerated Apricots.  Beautiful and delicious…

Some of our signature summer favorites were also served!  Like our Roasted Mushroom Cap with House-Made Kimchi and Utah Apple Slices with Artisan Cheese, drizzled with Honey.

Last but not least, we rounded out the menu with our Sweet Pea Pesto and Roasted Tomato on Bruschetta; Roasted Corn Cake with Spicy Mango Chutney, Cumin Cream, and Cilantro Garnish; and Razored Beef, Caramelized Onion, Golden Raisin Chutney, Gorgonzola Spread Bruchetta.  Mmmm…

Isn’t this a fun element?  Retro Rentals provided this trailer to house one of the treat/bar areas!  So cool and such a versatile way to add something a bit different to an event!

Mary Crafts-Homer thanking the attendees for creating such a fantastic local industry!

Such a great night of celebration and networking!!!  Phenomenal experiences happen when the unleashed minds of vendors like these come together to create an unforgettable night of celebration!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

VENDORS – Venue: Natural History Museum of Utah // Catering: Culinary Crafts // Planning & design: Fuse Wedding and Events // Floral design: Artisan Bloom // Esprit Raw Flowers // Photography: Pepper Nix // Videographer: Chris McClain // Entertainment: Dave Bowen Orchestra, TapSnap and Couth Booth // Rentals: Eclectic Hive // Treats: Cakes by Socorro and Retro Rentals // Invitations: Ann Elizabeth Print Studio // Jewelry: Diamonds Direct

NEW VENUE REPORT: Sequoias

By | Culinary Crafts Events, Event Tips and Planning, Food, Modern Wedding Style, Hot Tips for Cool Brides, Venues We Love, Wedding Trends

Today, I want to share another AMAZING, new venue with you all!  Sequoias is in Utah County and holy smokes – it’s GORGEOUS!!!  We had the pleasure of catering their grand opening so that the Utah wedding industry could come and check it out.  Everyone LOVED the venue and how many gorgeous places there are around the property and we are so excited to share it with you!

Isn’t this place GORGEOUS?!  There are so many options and they can accommodate small parties of 50 to large gatherings of 500 – and everything in between.

Here’s a little peek of what your wedding photos could look like.  The grand lawn also boasts views of Mt Timp – STUNNING!

Isn’t this a perfect spot for a ceremony?  The weeping willow is such a great, natural element and it overlooks the lake – which is a unique element to this venue.

Another amazing view of this venue!  There are so many different beautiful spots and details.  Love the water wheel and stacked stone!

Didn’t I tell you there were SO many amazing spaces?  Here’s another peek at the carriage house and arbor.  SO PRETTY!

The lake house is one of my favorite spots at the venue – and you can really see the beautiful mountain views.  LOVE!

Love the look of the lake house!  So rustic and naturally beautiful.  Plus this view of Sequoias from across the lake really shows you the awesome space you have available to you!

I’m a sucker for secret garden trails – and this one it a true beauty!  Wouldn’t photos be AMAZING here???

Another beautiful space!  These gates and this fountain – BREATHTAKING.

They also have an amazing swimming pool and hot tub!  How great would this place be to hang out with your friends and family?

The inside is just as beautiful as the outside!  I love the elegant, rustic vibe and the high vaulted ceilings.  Wouldn’t this be a gorgeous reception space??

The perfect setting for the grand opening party!  We loved being able to show off this unique venue to the local industry.

Isn’t the spiral staircase fun?  So pretty – especially with the pink silk linens on the high boy tables.

We loved creating a fun menu for the guests, framed by this stunning fireplace.  And don’t our flavored water dispensers look perfect with the decor?

One of my favorite elements was the Pasta Carbonara action station!  Such a fun way to treat our ‘friendors’ to something a little different!

Pulled pork sliders are always a great addition to the buffet – and this one is no different!  Perfect mix and mingle food.

Of course, there were desserts!  Raspberry Crumble Bars, Lemon Blueberry Old Fashioned Donuts, and Chocolate Pots du Creme.  YUM!

Another amazing amenity?  The have 9 guest rooms that allow you to spend the weekend with your family or wedding party!  Great for both destination and local brides!

Isn’t this venue AMAZING?!?!  With endless event sites on the property to choose from, you can have a unique event tailored to your dreams!  We are so excited for all of the events being held there and can’t wait to be a part of them!  If you love this venue for your wedding or events, make sure you contact them soon!  Dates are filling up fast.  Happy planning, everyone!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

Photos by Logan Walker, A Pepper Nix Photographer

NEW VENUE ALERT: River Bottoms Ranch

By | Event Tips and Planning, Every Day Life at Culinary Crafts, Modern Wedding Style, Hot Tips for Cool Brides, Sharing the Love -Vendor and Client Relationships, Vendor Love!, Venues We Love, Wedding Trends

We are spoiled here in Utah because we are literally surrounded by natural beauty!  With that, we also have some of THE BEST venues nestled right there admist all of that gorgeous natural landscape.  Well, today I have news for you!  There is a BRAND NEW venue that you are DEFINITELY going to want to check out!  River Bottoms Ranch is currently being built in the stunning Heber Valley and is opening in fall of this year – AND they are currently booking starting September 2018 for this year and for all of 2019!  So start thinking about your holiday parties for this year and if you have any Sundance events for 2019, this is the place!!!  Stay tuned, you are going to want to see this. 🙂

Isn’t this setting just a dream?  We LOVE it and River Bottoms Ranch fits in just perfectly.

Not only are the surroundings breathtaking, but the inspiration for the interior design is AMAZING.  I mean, just look at this design board.  I would like to take 2 of each of all of that please.  😉

I couldn’t help but share this cute pic of the owners on the venue, Jared and Janica!  They are two of the nicest people and make it their priority to make sure that your event is unforgettable (in the best way!)

What a greeting!  This is the view as you pull into the venue and we are sure your guests are going to be pleasantly surprised!

Another pic of the beautiful surroundings at the venue!  It was a bit cloudy the day we visited, but you can just make out a perfect vantage of Mt. Timp!

Imagine how lush and green this will be for summer/fall ceremonies!  This meadow is one of the outdoor options for hosting an outdoor ceremony or cocktail hour.  SOOOO pretty!

Now to the fun stuff!  Although they still ‘under construction’ I thought it would be fun to put a side by side of the rendering of the finished product with the progress photos!  First up, this is the driveway that pulls up right to the beautiful front door of the venue and right above is the fantastic Juliet balcony in the bride’s room!  You should see the view from there!!!

Next up, the main room which will boast amazing chandeliers, whitewashed wood, gorgeous sconces, and sliding barn doors to open up to the mountain views outside!

And, lastly, this view of River Bottoms Ranch which shows ALLLLL of the windows that are going to let in so much beautiful natural light!  Plus, doesn’t it just look like the perfect venue for any event! We think so!

We are so excited to see the finishing touches being put on to River Bottoms Ranch and can’t wait to check it out when it officially opens this fall.  We are also so excited to be a part of the amazing events we are sure will be hosted there!  (Special note, our very own Ryan Crafts help them design the kitchen in this stunning place, so you know we are SO ready to get to creating some delicious bites there!!!)  But, remember, if you think this is PERFECT for your wedding, holiday party, Sundance fête, or any other event, they are booking now from September 2018 on for this year and for all of 2019 and dates are filling up fast!  Happy planning, everyone!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

‘In Progress’ photos of River Bottoms Ranch by Angela Howard Photography

Trend Report: Extend Your Cocktail Hour!

By | Culinary Crafts Events, Event Tips and Planning, Every Day Life at Culinary Crafts, Food, Modern Wedding Style, Hot Tips for Cool Brides, Venues We Love, Wedding Trends

Today on the blog, we have a GORGEOUS wedding we had the pleasure of being a part of recently that was held at one of our favorite venues, the Natural History Museum of Utah!  Generally speaking, this venue doesn’t need much decor to make an impact because it’s designed so beautifully inside, so it’s perfect for couples looking for a modern, clean design – and even more perfect for those who want to treat their guests to gorgeous views while enjoying delicious food!  Speaking of which, one of the trends we are seeing a lot of lately is the idea of hosting an extended cocktail hour for guests to mix and mingle at and offering an elaborate variety of hors d’ouevres to keep them happy too!  Without further ado, let’s see this stunning fȇte!

© Heather Nan Photography

Firstly, one of the more unique parts of this wedding was that the couple chose to host their wedding ceremony at Red Butte Garden’s Rose House, which is actually next door to the Natural History Museum of Utah.  We LOVED this idea to host the celebration at 2 different venues!  Also, we hosted a little pre-ceremony cocktail hour (even on top of the extended cocktail hour during the reception) and of course, we had beautiful signature cocktails for the guests.  LOVE!

What an entrance!  The guests were treated to the gorgeous natural surrounds as they made their way to the wedding reception.  Simply gorgeous!

Simple, clean, modern design was in full force here – and what a gorgeous impact it made!  FUSE Weddings and Events and Orchid Dynasty put together an AMAZING design that really fit in perfectly with the existing space.  And how cool are those branches as centerpieces?  They complimented the green glass accents beautifully!

Another look at this beautiful table, because, why not?!  Simply perfect.

We love putting a simple, beautiful menu on each plate.  Not only is it informative, but it gets the guests excited for what’s to come!  And, boy, were they in for a treat!

As I mentioned before, we are seeing longer, more elaborate cocktail hours more and more often.  This wedding was a perfect example of this trend!  Kendall (the bride) wanted a longer cocktail hour as this was her favorite part of every wedding she has ever attended, so, we planned a lot of wonderful passed hors d’oeuvres to keep everyone happy!  These Petite Quesadillas with Avocado, Brie, Kalamata, & Roasted Red Pepper and Lamb Lollipops with Mint Pesto were only the tip of the menu ‘iceberg’!

We also served Watermelon Cube Skewers with Balsamic Reduction & Mint Chiffonade and Sweet Pea Mash with Roasted Tomato & Focaccia Crisp.  Yum!  And doesn’t our amazing staff look awesome passing these delicious bites to the guests?  We think so!

Last, but certainly not least, we rounded out this fantastic offering of hors d’ouevres with Smoked Salmon, Capers, Olive Oil on Frozen Slice of Lemon; Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Cold-Smoked Goat Cheese; and Lump Crab with Key Lime Juice, Jalapeno, Sea Salt on House Potato Crisps.  Seriously delectable!

What a view!  The guests not only were treated to amazing eats, but these stunning views and a bluebird sky!  This is certainly one of the most unique elements that NHMU boasts.

When the guests were welcomed inside for dinner, they still were treated to those signature views while they dined!  The floor to ceiling windows are STUNNING!

Another view of the guests getting ready to enjoy a fantastic plated dinner!  Plus, doesn’t NHMU just look AMAZING?!

First up, the guests were served Snuck Farms Baby Butter Lettuce Head with Parmesan and Lemon Zest, with Honey Citrus Vinaigrette, and finished with Sea Salt.  We also pre-set a Mini Herb Sourdough Bagette with Compound Herb Butter Paddle at each guests seat, which looked amazing!  A perfect summer menu first course!

Even with the variety of hors d’ouevres, the guests still happily dug into this first course.  The guests LOVED it!

We also served a selection of 3 entrees so guests could choose what they’d like!  (Always such a nice touch to make your guests feel special.)  They had the choice of Mesquite-Grilled Trout Filet with Sweet Tomato Jam, Hand Torched Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin with Wild Mushroom Chauseur Sauce, or Vegetable Napoleon with Sweet Tomato Jam.  Each entree was served with Marscapone & Asiago Grilled Polenta Cake with Micro Greens and a Fresh Green Bean Bundle Tied with Chive.  So good!

© Heather Nan Photography

Such a BEAUTIFUL wedding for Kendall! After the guests ate their fill, they danced the night away…  All while enjoying watching the city lights appear which provided the perfect finishing touch to a romantic day.  So amazing!  And, if you are the kind of couple who wants to really offer a lot of mingling with your guests, we’d definitely suggest an extended cocktail hour as an option!  Such a great idea and lets you really get to visit with all of your special people.  Happy planning, everyone!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

Tips From the Professional: Should you be concerned about special dietary needs at your event?

By | Ask Mary, Culinary Crafts Events, Event Tips and Planning, Every Day Life at Culinary Crafts, Tips, Top 10 Tips, Top 5 Tips

Today on the blog, we thought it would be fun to ask one of our Culinary Crafts Event Pros some of the top questions our clients always ask!  One of the questions we are seeing more and more of is the question of ‘special diets’ and guests: should you ask about special diets or restrictions?  And, if so, how should I handle that?  Well, we are in luck!  One of our senior corporate event experts, Ashley Veenendaal, is giving us AAAALLL the answers!

So, should you be concerned about special dietary needs at your event  The answer is a resounding yes! When you host an event, making your guests feel welcome is part of
the deal. Ensuring that each person attending has something they can eat will be a central part of achieving that. However, navigating allergies and dietary restrictions doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Here are a some ways to accommodate your guests to the best of your ability.

~Ask your guests to inform you of any dietary needs as early on as possible. These days people will often let you know right away if they need specialized food. Especially if they have a severe allergy. But not always…:) It is much easier to plan ahead for this than to be scrambling at the time of the event to provide food for them.

~A lot of food preferences can be combined. For example, there are limitless delicious recipes that are gluten free, vegan, paleo, and keto friendly across the board. Adding side dishes to a menu that meet those requirements will help keep labor, cost and stress levels to a minimum!

~If your guest has a religious restriction be sure to ask them more about the extent to which they practice. Guests that follow strict Kosher or Halal guidelines may require you to bring in special food from a certified kitchen. Or they it may be as simple as not serving certain menu items. A quick look online will help you educate yourself as you get ready to design a menu.

~ Be very upfront with ingredients. Labeling foods on the menu will make your guests feel at ease about what they are eating.

~If a guest neglects to tell you about a dietary restriction or allergy until the event is happening, it’s okay! Graciously explain why you are not prepared for that and then find a means of making a special plate for them. It could be as simple as providing them with extra salad and a lemon. The gesture will be appreciated.

~If you are going through a catering company, be sure and let your event planner know about any food needs that need to be met, While they will often have some foods available to cover everyone the amount sent will be more accurate if they know what to plan for.

Thank you, Ashley!  I hope that helps all you feel more at ease (and even excited) to offer special dietary items to your guests!  It’s definitely a great way to be creative with the menu, but also show your guests that you are keeping them in mind, and they will appreciate it so very much!  Happy planning, everyone!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

An Elegant, Unique Utah Valley Wedding

By | Culinary Crafts Events, Event Tips and Planning, Food, Modern Wedding Style, Hot Tips for Cool Brides, Wedding Trends

 

Today on the blog, have I got an AMAZING wedding for you!  It is full of personal touches, gorgeous florals, and FABULOUS food (of course)!  We were honored to be a part of Beth and Jeff’s stunning, and totally unique, wedding day!  This post is a long one, but I promise, you won’t be disappointed!  Check it out!

 

From our very own Jocelyn Gillies: “The location of the wedding is what meant the very most for the couple. The private residence (where the dinner was held) is the home they were living in when they got engaged. They then began building their home together on the property next door which is where the wedding ceremony took place, in the framed structure of their new home.”  Isn’t that so beautiful?  I love that they incorporated so much of their story into their wedding!

This wedding’s palette was clean and crisp, and all shades of white.  The feel was a Bohemian respite nestled in the mountains – and boy did these florals and the design deliver!  So pretty!

If you are looking for another fun element to add to your cocktail hour, We smoked oranges as part of our cocktail hour offerings.You eat them rind and all.  So delicious and a total crowd-pleaser.

Talk about delicious!  The couple, who both work in the health food industry and also own a health food company, were very particular about the menu – as were many of their guests!  This just goes to show that healthy does not have to be boring.

Most of this deliciously health-conscious menu was paleo centered, including these bites.  House-Made Duck Ham in a Basil Boat, Roasted Bone Marrow with Baked Root Vegetables and Thinly Sliced Sourdough, and Roasted Jersey Pepper and Strawberry Shooters topped with a Sweet Pepper Sliver and Sous Vide Strawberries. This Jersey pepper was a nod to the Groom’s East Coast roots.

Culinary Crafts loves custom charcuterie and getting to feature our local artisan vendors!  We served assorted smoke, salt, and air cured Creminelli salumi and proscuitto, all hand carved at the station.

The most unique part of this event was the seating. Guests were seated at one long table. So this simple and impactful chart as guests entered helped everyone find their seats without hassle.

There was SOOOO much more food.  A couple of the butler-passed hors d’oeuvres to start the evening, Lamb Shoulder in a Belgian Enive Leaf with Mint Chiffonade, Smoked Rocky Mountain Trout on a Watermelon Radish with Salacia Micro Greens, and Salmon Sashimi with Fingerling Lime ‘Caviar’ on a Utah Sea Salted Kettle Chip.

This Bison Carpaccio with Citrus Glaze and Brined Caperberry was so pretty and unique  Also, inside scoop, it was pretty darn tasty.

The last of the amazing cocktail hour nuggets- Compressed Local Watermelon with Arugula and Balsamic and Crispy Pork Belly with Garlic Greens and Balsamic Sultanas on Crostini.  What a way to round out the start of this fantastic menu, wouldn’t you say?

We LOVED the textural diversity that the table length floral runner added to the design!  I know many people think that an all-white palette can get monotonous, but add texture and different floral variations and you got something engagingly enticing.  This is one of those trends that I think we will be seeing for a long time.

This day was HOT.  Really, really hot.  The way only a Utah day in July can be and so we were constantly spraying down the florals to keep them pretty AND offering all of the guests ice cold drink offerings to keep them cool.  One way Culinary Crafts loves to do this is by offering infused waters like Citrus Mint and Orange Strawberry – and for those guests who wanted something a little sassier than water, we offered His and Hers cocktails! His Rocky Mountain Manhattan and Her Hummingbird.

Another trend we loved from this tablescape, the mixed metals with the simple menus.  Rose gold flat ware, mercury glass votives, and the all white palette.   Heavenly.

To welcome the guests to dinner, our house made ciabatta loaves were was pre-set along the tables and were served along with Pink Himalayan Salt compound butters.

And, let me just go back to this table, because, man it is gorgeous!  Creating this stunning and intimate experience for the bride, groom, and their guests was definitely the highlight of the evening.

To kick off this incredible culinary journey, we served Snuck Farm Rainbow Chard, Whipped Ricotta, Barbequed Beets, Finely Chopped Granola, Toasted Quinoa, and Slide Ridge Honey Vinaigrette.  Not to be outdone, the second course was an equally amazing plate of Pan Seared and Butter Poached Sea Scallops with Micro Amaranth, Hand-Cut Zoodles with Cashew Avocado Cream, and Shaved Parmesan.  Mmmm…

 

Let’s take a minute and recognize the incredible Culinary Crafts staff who always keeps it classy, even in the most unique of serving situations and extreme temperatures. They are truly an amazing group. Since this event was in the middle of a field, our kitchen options were limited. So Culinary Crafts did what we do best. Created our own kitchen. The team brought in grills, ovens, burners, tables and more to create this lovely meal.

To round out the dinner we served Summer Vegetable Terrine and Lemon Caper Rubbed Red Bird Chicken and Snuck Farm Sorrel Picatta with waiter poured velouté.  Added a elegant ending to this family style meal.

It isn’t quite sunset yet, but you can see the light starting to fade and I have to say,​ the most dramatic note of the evening came by way of the candlelit dining table running through the open mountain escape.  Truly breathtaking in every way.

After dinner the guests were invited to enjoy coffee and a selection of scrumptious desserts.  Our ‘Coffee Nerd’ coffee bar is one of our favorite action stations – and the guests are always big fans!

On to the desserts (my favorite!) The Bride and Groom both hail from the east coast and when Jocelyn met them for the first time she let them know that our assistant pastry chef (who happens to be Sicilian) made the BEST cannolis Jocelyn had ever had! To say they were hesitant was an understatement, but once they had one for themselves, the totally agreed and added it to their menu!   Love all of the special details that made this a unique, tailored experience for the couple and their guests!

We didn’t stop there! Homemade Mountainland Apple Pie with Culinary Crafts’ house made Caramel Gelato topped with Warm Whiskey Raisin Caramel Sauce as well as Zabaglione Shooters topped with Fresh Berries, Micro Basil, and Candied Pistachio Biscotti.  I’ll take one of each, please!

Last, but certainly not least, we served Grilled Stone Fruit over Culinary Crafts’ Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla Gelato.  So simple and so delicious!

The couple planned for the party to go into the wee hours, and of course, they made sure that their guests were well fed the entire time!  They asked us to serve a selection of late-night noshes, including a Pho After Dark Bar!  We loved this idea!!! Truly catering for those who give a Pho.

Thank you to Beth and Jeff for letting Culinary Crafts be a part of your epic wedding day!  We absolutely loved every minute of this event and hope you did too!  Happy planning all!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!

Photos by Angela Howard Photography

What’s Peaking Now? So Glad You Asked!

By | A Kitchen Like No Other, Event Tips and Planning, Farmers Market, Favorite Find Friday, Food, Food Theory Thursday, How To, Sharing the Love -Vendor and Client Relationships, Tips, Vendor Love!, Vendor Spotlight

Because we as consumers see such a huge variety of produce available in our markets all year long, it’s hard to remember exactly what’s in season in our area. Culinary Crafts loves sourcing as much of its produce as possible from local growers. And, we fine tune our menus seasonally to feature local items at their absolute best flavor peak. Here’s our list of spring delicacies to be enjoyed now.

Asparagus
Rhubarb
Peas
Strawberries
Carrots
Garlic
Butter lettuce
Parsley
Chives
Arugula
Swiss Chard
Pea greens

Next week we’ll be sharing one of our favorite spring salad recipes.

MEET ONE OF OUR FAVORITE GROWERS

Snuck Farm

We’re happy to give a shout out to our neighbor and one of our favorite growers, Snuck Farm, in Pleasant Grove. They have an awesome hydroponic greenhouse and supply local grocers with their herbs, greens and other produce year round. And, you’re in luck! They’re having a plant sale on May 12th, from 8am to 1pm… here’s the info below
Save the date for the Snuck Farm Annual Community Plant Sale!

May 12th  at 8am to 1pm.
You’ll find a large variety of vegetables and flowers all ready for your garden including over 30 heirloom tomato varieties, peppers, cucumbers, squash, herbs, zinnias, petunias, hanging baskets and, well of course more! All plant starts are grown right here in our own greenhouse, using non-GMO seeds which means your plants are grown in our climate, with tons of love so you won’t find wilted or distressed plants.
This is a great way to spend some time on the farm, bring Mom for an early Mother’s Day. Listen to live music, enjoy food, fresh flowers from Local Roots Flower Farm and some of our favorite new gardening tools, linens, books, and kitchen must-haves.
Hope to see you there!

Friday Instagram of the Week!

By | Event Tips and Planning, Every Day Life at Culinary Crafts, Food, Instagram of the Week, Modern Wedding Style, Hot Tips for Cool Brides, Venues We Love, Wedding Trends

Today’s Instagram of the Week comes from @nannetteyorkfloral who posted a peek of this STUNNING Sleepy Ridge wedding that we had the pleasure of being a part of!  One of my favorite parts of this spectacular day?  The Culinary Crafts signature Flaming Doughnuts station (seen here)!  Always a crowd favorite and SO delicious!

Thank you for sharing, Nannette, and remember, for your chance to be picked next, tag us at @culinarycrafts or add the hashtag #culinarycrafts to your post and check back to see who’s pic we choose!  Happy weekend, everyone!

Check out more Salt Lake City, Park City, and Utah County catering at www.culinarycrafts.com!