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May 23, 2009

Fillmore Wedding

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I have recently changed positions at Culinary Crafts and am working more in our offices on the operation and planning side of catering.  It is great and I love it, however there is still something about being at the event and seeing it all come together.  So I am glad that I am still able to be on site at our events on the weekend.  It is very fulfilling to have a pleased client at the end of the event and to know that we have delivered excellent food and flawless service.   This was the case for me and my crew this last weekend.  I had the opportunity to manage and serve at the Fillmore wedding.  It was absolutely stunning.  The event was at the Salt Lake Hardware Building downtown.  If you have been to this venue you know how great it can be.  The colors were peach, pewter gray, and white.  We uplit the center wall with peach lighting.  We had our action stations on one side and a receiving line and seating on the other end.  The florals were amazing, the candy station was gorgeous, the food was gourmet and the service was professional.   I could go on for pages about this event.  But in short, it was a pleasure to work for such a gracious client at a brilliant event and it reminded me just why I love this industry so much.  Pictures to follow shortly.  Enjoy!

May 17, 2009

Buffets go MOBILE!! Culinary Crafts newest creation!

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First we went "vertical" with our buffets....then we went "floating"....and now we've gone "mobile"!    Here's are newest funky presentation idea: The Acrylic "Mobile Buffet"!  The mobile buffet is a novel idea to move food to the guests rather than the guests to the food.  We use these to serve cupcakes, ice cream cones, or bamboo cones filled with with hors d'oeuvres.  Here we are presenting a variety of savory tastes:  Thai Beef Salad with Cilantro and Lime;  Pomme Frits with Fried Sage and Bleu Cheese Aioli;  Assorted Vegetable Chips with Sea Salt.  The possibilities are endless and you're sure to see these at many of our signature events!

May 13, 2009

Culinary goes “Retro” with demi hors d’oeuvres!

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One of the best parts of being a caterer is the continual development of new looks, new tastes, and new presentations.  We recently creating 3 new hors d'oeuvres for our ever-growing repertoire of small plate ideas with a retro touch.  Everyone loves those mini slider burgers but we've been experimenting with different meats and flavors.  This is my new favorite inspired from one of my favorite chefs--Cindy Pawlcyn. Mini duck burgers with Shiitake Mushroom Ketchup and Chinese Mustard Sauce...so moist and I love the Asian flavors. Pomme Frits (aka French Fries) in petite parchment cones with Fried Sage and Rosemary served with Bleu Cheese Aioli...You can't stop eating these!  Danger!  Danger! Trio of Mexican Mini Tacos:  Seared Tenderloin with Cilantro and Daikon Radishes, Roasted Sweet Peppers with Fennel and Pepperjack, Spicy Fish with Red Cabbage and Guacamole ...all decked out on citrus slices and served in a bamboo boat. How fun are these!! Try these at your next gathering as great comfort food but with a classy touch!

April 23, 2009

ABOUT TIME FOR SUMMERTIME!

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As a Utah native and winter sports enthusiast, I wait anxiously every year for the best snow on earth to begin to fall upon our desert mountains. Nonetheless, my heart fell when I woke up on April 15th to six inches of snow on my lawn.  It's time for the weather to accommodate some of my other passions, like two wheeled vehicles and backyard barbecues.  It's about time for summertime. Speaking of backyard barbecues, sometimes people think I'm joking when I say that when they're done right, I would prefer a hamburger or even a hotdog to lobster or filet mignon.  Yet it's not a joke, and it's not the preference of an unsophisticated palate either.  True, the hamburger is the icon of fast food joints and the hotdog of sports stadium concessions, but gourmet doesn't have to mean a formal place setting in a 5 star restaurant.  Burgers and dogs, when done right, can be as gourmet as truffled foie gras, caviar, and escargot. Of course, what does it mean for a hot dog to be done right?  The trick, as with all food, is to refuse to cut corners.  When you prepare food from scratch using the best ingredients available, even simple dishes will turn out mouthwatering because they will taste like what they are made of. With the weather looking to be so nice this coming week, I'm going to have the neighbors over for a casual backyard meal.  I've chosen a quarter pound all beef kosher hot dog with no added nitrates or protein fillers like soy, corn, or wheat gluten.  I plan to first boil the hot dogs in a locally micro-brewed nut brown ale until they swell up and start to split at the ends.  Then the hot dogs go right from the boiling beer to a wood fired grill where the outer layer gets lightly charred and nicely crisp.  They go straight from the grill to a homemade polenta bun and topped with a homemade raspberry jalapeño vinegar reduction, carmelized onions, and bleu cheese crumbles.  Trust me, this hot dog matches up against a fancy restaurant steak anywhere, anytime. The next time you're grilling burgers and dogs in the backyard, I recommend trying to make as much of the menu as you can from scratch, if possible, the entire meal.  Grind your own beef for burgers.  Bake your own bread.  Make your own condiments.  Use the best ingredients you can find.  You may  think this sounds like so much more work than just buying pre-shaped frozen patties, putting them on a mass produced bun and adding a squirt of yellow mustard.  But I think you'll find that it's not as much extra time or work as it seems, you'll enjoy the cooking process more, and the food will taste so good, you'll wonder why didn't always do it this way. Of course, our recipe contest is still rolling on.  Send some of your great summertime recipes to info@culinarycrafts.com or simply post them in the comments here on the blog for a chance to win a free Black Satin Fudge Cake prepared by our veteran pastry chef and shipped right to your door. Ryan Crafts Culinary Crafts Director of Catering

February 25, 2009

Ryan’s Homemade BBQ Sauce

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I love fine cuisine from all over the world, but my favorite flavors are the uniquely American, rich, smoky tastes of true Southern BBQ.  When buying BBQ sauce, most of the sauces you'll find at your local grocery store are thick, sugary sauces, generally intended to be used as a condiment rather than a marinade or cooking tool. Below, you'll find the recipe for my personal BBQ sauce done in this same vein, but with a few twists: Ingredients: 1 & 1/2 cup tomato paste 2 large tomatoes 2 large sweet bell peppers (red, green, yellow, orange, any color's fine.) 1 habanero pepper (optional) 1/4 cup chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or whole, dried chipotles) 1 cup apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup of your favorite bourbon whiskey 1/2 cup molasses 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 small yellow onion 1 tablespoon minced garlic 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon allspice 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 2 teaspoons kosher salt Dice the onion and saute together with the olive oil and minced garlic over high heat until the onion darkens to a nice carmel color. Set aside. After washing, open and remove the stem and seeds from the sweet peppers and the habanero.  Then put the peppers and whole tomatoes over a charcoal fire, turning regularly until well charred on all surfaces.  If you prefer, you can dice the fresh tomatoes and peppers and broil them in your oven until charred instead. Put the caramelized onion, grilled tomatoes and peppers (don't remove the charred skins!), chipotle peppers, and tomato paste together in a food processor or blender and mix to a fine puree. In a stockpot, put the puree together with the remaining ingredients over a medium heat and stir constantly for approximately 5 minutes. Reduce to a very low heat and let the sauce simmer for another 20 minutes or until thickened to desired consistency. While over the low heat, the sauce does not require constant stirring, but it must be watched carefully and stirred occasionally or the sugar in the sauce will scorch on the bottom of the pot. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. Sauce should be stored refrigerated in an airtight container. I prefer to wait at least 24 hours after making the sauce before serving it. Sauce should be brought back to room temperature before serving. Enjoy, but be forewarned, once you try this sauce, you won't be able to go back to just buying stuff off the shelf. Also, don't forget to submit your own recipes to our recipe contest for a chance to WIN A FREE BLACK SATIN FUDGE CAKE! Ryan Crafts Culinary Crafts Director of Catering

February 11, 2009

2 New Venues for Culinary Crafts!

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 I want to share some exciting news with all our brides and corporate clients. We have just been given the "preferred caterer" contract at The Depot and Grand Hall at the Gateway. There are so many options here from an intimate dinner for 25 guest to the full blow-out event for up to 3000! The second venue is The Swaner Eco Center in Kimball Junction, Park City where we are honored to be their exclusive caterer. This is Utah's only "Leed" Platinum Building with indoor and outdoor areas set in a beautiful mountain setting. I particularly love the 40 foot pier out into the preserve where hundreds of birds and wild life call home. These venues are so different but so perfect for the unique style of our clients. Culinary Crafts is the preferred caterer at more venues than any other caterer in Utah, and I would love to help all of you find the ideal location for your next event. Just send me your details and I'll make some recommendations just for you! Sincerely, Mary Crafts depot_8974_sj

February 3, 2009

Food & Funny Stories from the Front of the House

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About three years ago I was setting up an intimate dinner party at a home in Salt Lake City. When the client arrived home, I introduced myself as Ryan Crafts, her event captain for the evening.

 

“Ryan Crafts, like Culinary Crafts?” she asked, “Or is that just a coincidence?”

 

 

“No, it's not a coincidence.” I replied, “I'm one of the family. Ron and Mary, the owners, are my parents.”

 

 

She paused for a moment to sort out what this meant and then said, “Oh, how sweet. Your parents named you after their company!”

 

 

Although it would be a deeply heartwarming story, I was not named after the company. Nonetheless, I do have a strong personal attachment to Culinary Crafts. I grew up in the thick of the catering world. As young boys, my brother and I would spend our summers playing in the large open fields around our kitchens and would come in at the end of the work day to help put away all dishes the chefs had used. That was almost twenty years ago, so those open fields are now occupied by the huge Mighty Light factory and the UPS Utah County Sorting Facility.

 

 

In all the years that I've worked with the family business, I've worked in just about every capacity in the catering industry. From dishwasher to event manager to payroll secretary to senior grill master to fleet manager to certified foodie, I've done it all.  Although my interests are varied, catering is really a passion of mine and I hope to share some insights into the catering world: what goes into pulling off a fabulous event, some snapshots from behind the scenes, and of course, some of the more humorous moments as they unfold in the world of special events.

27x winner Utah’s Best of State

24x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

1x Entrepreneur of the Year