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January 20, 2022

Getting Married in the Middle of a Pandemic? Innovative Ways to Make Your 2022 Wedding Spectacular and Safe

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Outdoor, micro-wedding, vows, safe and sensational wedding celebration Planning a wedding in the midst of a pandemic presents unique challenges but also incredible opportunities. If you hear wedding bells in the near future, here are some hints for how to create a safe and sensational celebration.

Think big by thinking small

outdoor, micro-wedding, white lights, create a safe wedding celebration.You may have to get innovative. Hot tip: Micro-weddings are the new posh. By trimming the guest list you can reduce crowding while relaxing your budget at the same time. Brides are starting to realize what mind-blowing experiences they can create for 20 guests instead of 200. In the last year we’ve seen small weddings in the middle of the Salt Flats and light tunnels created in the middle of a forest. We've served 10 course meals and even catered a dinner under a waterfall. With a smaller number of intimate friends and family, you’re free to open your imagination and entertain your most elusive dreams.  

Weigh and minimize risks in advance

Kimble Terrace, bubble, event, Culinary Drafts You owe it to your guests to identify risk factors and take reasonable precautions to minimize them.  If asking Grandma to fly in from out of state poses too much risk, consider setting up a Zoom or Google hangout for guests who can’t attend in person. For those who do come, think about ways to encourage social distancing and reduce traffic congestion. A lot of couples are finding incredible outdoor venues.  But if you need to be inside, implement a crowd-control design that prevents “clumping.” Consider providing private dining areas for your guests such as bubble tents, igloos, or simple separate table-spaces. Traditional self-service buffets can be replaced by safer options like boxed meals or a dessert drive-thru. Recently, a charcuterie served in pre-portioned bamboo cones was a huge hit.

Communicate expectations

pandemic, micro wedding, lesbian indian couple, lgbt, henna, brides Whatever safety plan you choose for your celebration, as the host it’s up to you to communicate your expectations to your guests. A classy insert with your invitation can let people know in advance whether they’ll need to do a temperature check on arrival, show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, wear a mask, or whatever precautions you decide are appropriate. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone: you can’t. Everyone’s situation is different. If you communicate clearly and let people know what to expect, they’ll be able to make their own choices about how to celebrate your day with you.  

Customize

pandemic, public health, signage, wedding, customized, masks Invitations, favors, and place cards are all pretty standard for a wedding. But the pandemic blew open a door for creating new items to customize! Masks, sanitizer, soap, towels, water, or even social distancing/selfie sticks can be practical and personal. Our favorite customized gifts are fun “in sickness and health packages” which sometimes include a hangover kit.             

Get help

Caterer, event planner, River Bottoms Ranch, mask, Covid The best way to enjoy your big day while staying safe is to hire a social coordinator. Your event planner or day-of coordinator may be perfect for the job. Along with a trained catering team, your social coordinator will direct traffic, answer questions, and make sure that everyone has a safe and spectacular experience. Meanwhile, you'll be free to relax and enjoy the day you've planned and waited for so long.

December 22, 2021

December Recipe of the Month: Chocolate Reindeer Donuts

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chocolate donuts, doughnuts, cake donuts, baked donuts, christmas, holiday, reindeer, cranberry, pretzel, pinecone, winter, cinnamonThese chocolate reindeer donuts are as delicious as they are adorable. Be sure to save one for yourself before they fly away "like the down of a thistle!"

Ingredients

Donuts

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  •  1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ganache

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces local dark chocolate: our favorites are Ritual's Mid Mountain Blend, Amano's Dos Rios, or Solstice's Madagascar. You can pick these up from your local Harmons.

Decorations

  • 12 cranberries
  • 12 pretzels
  • 24 candy eyes

Equipment

  • donut pan
  • 2 piping bags
  • cooling rack

Directions

  1. To make donuts: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease pan and set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together sour cream, melted butter, and sugars until combined. Stir in vanilla and one egg at a time.
  4. Gently fold the flour mixture into wet ingredients and mix by hand just until combined.
  5. Fill a piping bag with batter and fill donut pan 2/3 of the way full.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 3-5 minutes, then remove from pan.
  7. To make the ganache: In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir until smooth. Set aside for 15-20 minutes until ganache has cooled and thickened a bit.
  8. To make the buttercream for decoration: In a mixing bowl, mix together butter and sugar, add milk and vanilla. Mix on high for 3 minutes. Put into a piping bag and cut a very small hole at the end. Set aside.
  9. To assemble chocolate reindeer donuts: Dip donuts into the ganache, then place on a cooling rack until ganache sets.
  10. Place eyes, and cranberry in the center as the nose.
  11. Break/cut pretzels in half, length-wise for antlers.
Enjoy! Happy Holidays!

December 17, 2021

De-stress Your Christmas Cooking

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Christmas dinner, place setting catering, christmas table, table setting, christmas decor, holiday dinner, beef, meat, carved, centerpieceWith all the isolation and stress of the last year, 2021 may be a more important time than ever to sit down with loved ones and share a Christmas meal. Unfortunately, the pressure of making a memorable holiday meal can kick a cook’s stress level up several more notches. If planning and preparing your Christmas feast is feeling like one burden too many, don’t worry: we’ve got you! Here are our favorite tips to de-stress your Christmas cooking.

1. Think ahead.
mis en place, christmas cooking, holiday cooking, christmas dinner, meal, grean beans, fried onions, preparations, stress free, easy
Do as much as you can in advance so that when the day comes, you can spend most of your focus on the people you’re doing it all for.

• Shop early. Don’t plan on going to the store after December 20; it’s a zoo! Plan in advance and avoid the crush.
• "Mis en place" all your recipes. Mis en place is a French term meaning “everything in place.” It is the practice of measuring out all the ingredients for a recipe and doing any other preparation that you can do in advance. For example, mix your drinks and dressings beforehand. Peel potatoes and leave them in water in the fridge. Prepare vegetables on sheet pans so they are ready for the oven, wrapped in plastic wrap and stacked in the fridge, etc.
• Make your centerpiece, move the furniture, wrap the presents, and set the table as soon as you can. Actually, now! Don't wait.

2. Simplify what can be simplified.
gingerbread decorating man station kids holiday party
As foodies dedicated to our craft, we have a hard time telling others (or even ourselves) to use the shortcuts that modern society has created for meal production because the longer, scenic route of cooking and creating a dining experience is a beautiful labor of love that you can taste with every bite. However, that labor can be a bit much on Christmas morning with a family of kids hyped up on sugar and presents, rampaging with their loud new toys while you’re trying to clean up before guests arrive. One of the best ways to de-stress your Christmas cooking is to simplify where you can.

• Dice the onions: This is one of the most time-consuming steps, especially because so many recipes start with sautéed onions. You can do this in advance. Put them in a bowl and keep them in the refrigerator or freeze them. Or simplify even more by just buying onions already frozen and diced.
• Buy the ham. Seriously. They come spiral cut and glazed, and they are delicious. Don't kill yourself making one from scratch; there are better things to do with your time. Just remember to order and pick it up early.
• If bread-making is your forte and you are not tapped from holiday baking by the time you get to December 25th, spectacular! Try making, shaping, and freezing your bread dough in advance. Then, day of, just remove from freezer and bake. But if you don’t have that kind of time and energy, take advantage of local artisan bread options that can make your Christmas meal-prep much easier. Eva’s Bakery, Mims Bakery, Flourish Bakery, and Harmon’s artisan bread section are all great go-tos.
• Desserts are a similar situation. It’s beautiful to share any of your homemade sweets, but you can also simplify by trying out one of your excellent local artisans who make delicious desserts. A few of our favorites are Grapefruit & Thyme, Cache Toffee, Les Madeleines, Gourmandise, Flour & Flourish, Cake by Alessandra, and Tulie Bakery.

3. Give yourself a gift.
Ceramic Olive Oil Cruet and Salt Cellar
We’re not speaking metaphorically about being kind to yourself and not expecting the impossible (although, yes, you should give yourself a break). We’re talking about literally gifting yourself something this year, one labor-saving piece of equipment that will make life easier for you in the kitchen. If you need ideas, we have a few suggestions.

4. Delegate (or, better yet, share).
family black cooking for christmas dinner holiday meal sharing, experience, kitchen
Some cooks want to do it all by themselves. Believe us, we get that. But as tempting at it is to take the burden on yourself and be the Christmas kitchen god, it can be important for kids, spouses, and guests to have a hand in making the meal.

Remember: It’s not about the food; it’s about the experience. You’re not just feeding bellies; you’re helping create meaningful memories. We all know that turning part of the meal over to someone else can often create as much work and stress for you as it relieves, but don’t lose sight of the big picture. That grandson who messes up half the napkins he folds may not be saving you much time, but think about what he’s learning, the confidence he’s gaining, and the memories he’s making. We guarantee that the feelings and experience he gets from making a meaningful contribution will stay with him a lot longer than the mashed potatoes and gravy.

But how can you delegate part of the Christmas meal tasks without creating more headache for yourself?

• Have someone else bring dessert, salad, entrée, sides, or whatever parts of the meal you choose. If any of your guests have a specialty dish, consider giving them a chance to shine.
• Prepare a list of helpful things people could do when they arrive. Most people welcome a chance to be helpful if they know how to do it without getting in the way. Instead of waiting for them to ask and then scrambling to think of something for them to do, have it written down. The list could include things like
-- filling waters and pitchers on tables
--pouring cocktails
--adding crackers/chocolate/room temp things to your charcuterie board or appetizers
--pouring cocktails
--mixing mashed potatoes
--watching the turkey/ham, rolls, etc. in the oven
--mixing salad
--whipping cream
--doing dishes
• Have all your platters and serving utensils picked out and labeled so when people are helping they aren't scrambling to see what platter is for what item.
• If people are arriving early to help, leave a recipe with your mis en placed plates and have them follow the directions.

cookie making, christmas, holiday, rolling, cutting, sugar cookies

Realistically, there may not be any such thing as a stress-free Christmas meal (unless you follow the Japanese Christmas custom and just order a bucket of chicken from KFC). But if you do what you can to de-stress your Christmas cooking, you'll minimize the anxiety and maximize the meaning of the experience.

We hope your Christmas is joyous and delicious.

Happy eating!

November 19, 2021

November Recipe of the Month: Mom’s cornbread stuffing

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Cornbread stuffing with chorizo

Our family makes this cornbread stuffing with chorizo every Thanksgiving because (let's be honest) a light, fluffy, flavor-packed stuffing is the best part of the holiday meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe of your favorite cornbread (see ours here) Can be prepared up to 2 days in advance if desired.
  • 12 oz chorizo sausage
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup diced shallots
  • 1/2 cup diced wild mushrooms(oyster mushrooms are some of our favorite)
  • 1/2 cup sliced leeks
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp fresh sage; chiffonade cut
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup turkey or chicken stock (The giblets from your turkey boiled down make superb turkey stock!)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut cornbread into 1" chunks and spread on greased sheet pan. Place in oven at 350° until toasted (about 30 minutes) stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
  2. In a large skillet over high heat, cook chorizo until brown and cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, move chorizo to bowl and drain drippings.
  3. In the same skillet melt butter and sauté celery, shallot, and leeks until soft. Stir in mushrooms, thyme, sage, and parsley. Turn off heat.
  4. Stir in chorizo and toasted cornbread to celery mixture.
  5. Add stock and gently mix until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Evenly coat a 12" cast iron pan in butter and place it into the oven for 5 minutes. *
  7. Remove from oven and quickly pour stuffing into pan
  8. Reduce oven heat to 350° and bake for 45 minutes.
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November 9, 2021

The Joy of Hospitality

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Let’s be honest, this pandemic almost kicked our butts. Like a lot of businesses, when the economy stagnated we faced an existential crisis. As catering slowed to a crawl and we were forced to do a lot of soul searching, we were reminded of why we do what we do at Culinary Crafts. For us, catering isn’t just a business. It's about sharing the joy of hospitality. When we were kids, every Halloween our mother used to hand out king size candy bars at our door. (This was back when no one gave kids that much chocolate—for heaven’s sake, are you trying to make them sick?) But it wasn’t the size of the servings that was remarkable, it was the presentation. She would fan them out in a beautiful display on a silver serving tray, and then she’d lean down and present the tray to each little witch or toilet paper mummy as if she were serving royalty. The happiness in her smile made every kid feel like the display had been made especially for them. Heck, she made them feel like the whole holiday was for them! That’s what real hospitality feels like. And you can’t fake it. I mean, sure, anyone can hand out chocolate bars and smile. But when bringing enjoyment to other people genuinely makes you happy too, people can tell. Mary Crafts and CJ at Mary's retirement party, grass, outdoors pink dress, black man, old white woman, birthday party, ranch, utah, catering, Honestly, that’s why we do what we do. If there is one “secret” that has made Culinary Crafts the Best in State for 20 years, it’s the ethic our parents taught us long ago: Take joy in bringing joy to others. If you were to walk into our facilities today, you’d be greeted with a warm welcome, the smell of something delicious, and (if you came at the right time) an invitation to join us for lunch. Whether you’re an eager bride, one of our vendors, or the FedEx driver dropping off a package, when you’re with us you’re our guest, and there’s nothing that brings us more joy than sitting down to share a good conversation, great food, and a memorable moment with our guests. Ryan Crafts at dinner party sharing the joy of hospitality at Kimball Terrace in Park City UtahOf course, there is no formula for how to bring people the joy of hospitality. The way to make someone’s special day perfect is different for every individual. Part of our job is to get to know a client so well that we can help bring their hopes and visions to life. Whether we’re customizing a 100% vegan menu, welcoming your Greek grandma into our kitchen to show us exactly how to make the rice, or figuring out how to get the whole wedding party to the top of a mountain (we’re not making any of these up), your dreams and wishes matter to us because you matter to us. We love making great food because we love the people we share it with. Culinary Crafts caterer shares smile and the joy of hospitality at Utah catered event. Now that Thanksgiving is coming up, we’re preparing to gather once again to do what we love best, share the joy of food and fellowship with people we love. Ever since we were young, our family has had a tradition of making pies for family and friends on Thanksgiving Day…and when I say that the Crafts make pies, I mean we make pies! Cherry pies. Berry pies. Two kinds of apple pies. Banana cream. Coconut cream. Chocolate cream. Chocolate bourbon pecan. Chiffon pumpkin. Mincemeat (which only Dad will touch). Over a hundred pies each year. We invite anyone on our staff to come help make pies for their families. We invite friends and neighbors. It’s a huge production, and honestly, it’s one of the highlights of my year. We did not know it when we were kids, but all those mornings when our parents got us up at ungodly hours to cut the butter and lard into the dough and pinch the crusts until our fingers ached, they were giving us a valuable gift. They were instilling in us the passion that still gets us out of bed every day. Culinary Crafts team makes pies for special event So why do we do what we do? Why go to crazy lengths to get the perfect balance of spices and to find the right food pairings and all the thousand other little details we put into an event? Even if a guest will never know how hard we worked to perfect that recipe they’re tasting or to find the perfect pairings for their meal, even if they have no idea how early in the morning the team was up to make it all happen, we know, and it matters to us that we gave our best. If you do have a chance to visit our facilities, you’ll probably notice our company Vision written on a big poster: “Sharing the joy of hospitality.” You’ll also notice a lot of decorative pineapples on the tables, in the window sills, everywhere. Why pineapples? Well, the pineapple has come to be a symbol of hospitality. Europeans have never seen one until explorers brought them back from the New World. The problem was, a fresh cut pineapple will only last about a month, and it took longer than that for them to cross the ocean by ship. The first time Columbus tried to bring a load with him back to Spain, only one lone pineapple survived the journey. He presented that single fruit to King Ferdinand, and from then on the pineapple represented opulence and generosity, a rare and precious gift. Europeans sometimes paid thousands in today’s dollars for a single pineapple. For a host to serve pineapple meant that they were giving the finest and best they could give. pineapple dinner setting Culinary Crafts catering special event symbol of hospitality That’s what our parents were teaching us all those hours we spent making and serving meals, the joy of giving someone the best you have. To this day, our dad comes into the kitchen and makes an incredible meal for the whole team almost every day. He doesn’t have to. He isn’t expected to. He isn’t paid for it. He just does it because he can. There, in a nutshell, is the ethic our parents passed to us so many years ago. Treat people with excellence. Give them your best. Use your time, talents, and opportunities not just to make meals but to make memories. Let people feel special by showing them that they are special. Of all the holidays I’ve spent with my loved ones, of all the Thanksgiving pies and Christmas dinners I’ve consumed, there aren’t many meals that I can remember specifically, but I will always remember the moments and experiences we’ve shared. I think that’s good to keep in mind as we enter another season of feasting and celebration. The food itself is not the goal. Food is a vehicle to experiences, a way to mark occasions and make moments special. We put so much work and care into the meals we prepare because that’s who we are, the givers of good gifts. The presenters of pineapples. It is a rare and precious life to be a part of, even if it involves a lot of early mornings.
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20x winner Utah’s Best of State

16x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

1x Entrepreneur of the Year