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December 5, 2023

It’s About the Story

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by Ryan Crafts

President and Resident Storyteller

Growing up in the catering business, it always puzzled me why, in the middle of a busy event, my mother would suddenly pick up the microphone and talk to the diners about the food they were being served. “No one wants to hear it,” I would think to myself. “They just want to eat in peace!” But now, with a couple more decades of experience under my belt, I get it. It’s never just about the food. It's about the story the food tells.

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The Best Sandwich He Ever Had

I will always remember the first meal we catered for University of Utah football at Rice Eccles Stadium. We’d been told that they wanted "football foot," including classic Buffalo chicken sandwiches, but we wanted to make it special. It was our chance to make a first impression, so we decided to elevate the tailgate classics into something extraordinary.

We started with the same organic, free-range chicken that we use for high-end formal plated dinners. Then we spent days bringing the meat to perfection. Every element of the sandwiches—from the bread to the meat to the toppings—was made fresh from scratch with great care. These sandwiches were good…like really good!

So we were disappointed when, after the fans started to arrive, our team reported, “No one’s trying the Buffalo chicken! They’re just walking right past it.” Immediately, I pulled a few teammates away from their assigned tasks and put them at the head of the sandwich buffets. They were to greet every guest with a huge smile and to say the following.

"Welcome to Rice-Eccles Stadium and Tower! We have a special treat for today's game. For our Buffalo chicken sandwiches, we picked the best chicken we could find. Then we brined it, braised it overnight, shredded it, and simmered it in our Buffalo sauce. It’s topped with our famous Beehive white cheddar coleslaw and served on a homemade ciabatta bun baked fresh from our stone oven. Go Utes!"

Immediately, the feedback changed. Instead of “No one’s eating the sandwiches,” our team told us, “We’re running out!” In fact, the Buffalo Chicken ended up being the most popular item we served that day, and President Uchtdorf said it was the best sandwich he’d ever had.

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The Story of Our Food

That experience was a good reminder of something every caterer, host, and home chef should keep in mind. Food takes on a whole new level of meaning and enjoyment when we learn its story.

As Culinary Crafts, we put an insane amount of time and effort into giving our guests a terrific dining experience. In the thick of all that work, it’s easy to forget what a difference it can make to take a moment and share a little story, give a little context, and make a personal connection.

Last Christmas, we invited our whole team to share stories and recipes about foods that have special meaning to them. Then we compiled those submissions into a cookbook. Some of the stories were hilarious and some were heartbreaking, but all of them were a great way to draw closer over the shared experience of food. We’ve posted several on our website throughout the last year, and we still have more to share! We hope you’ve taken the time to read the stories and maybe try some of the recipes at home; they are excellent! These stories are a way for us to share a little of our passion for food and our appreciation for the people we make the magic happen. To you, our friends, clients, guests, and—most of all—our amazing team, a heart-felt thanks. We wish you every happiness this holiday season.

Eat well.

November 16, 2023

Miracle Turkey

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by Meagan Price

Director of Marketing and Kitchen Sorceress

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Growing up at Culinary Crafts and working events from a young age, I learned the art of putting out fires. I don’t mean literal ones (well, sometimes literal ones), but being a full-service caterer means constantly dealing with problems on the fly, from changing a tire to repairing a bride’s dress to figuring out how to cook the entrée when the venue’s oven breaks. My childhood gave me an unshakable sense of “I can figure that out.” I’m grateful for the confidence I developed, but sometimes it got me into trouble, like it did on the year of the Miracle Turkey.

During my junior year in college, I worked as a resident advisor in the dorms at SUU . I thought of the students in my charge as “my kids” and loved surprising them with pies, cakes, and fresh-made cinnamon rolls. (When did I ever get any studying done?) As Thanksgiving approached, I worried about my residents who would be stuck in their rooms instead of visiting family, so I decided I would take it on myself to make them a full-blown Thanksgiving meal. I hadn’t done anything like that before, but I was sure I could figure it out. How hard could it be?

The Miracle Turkey

Anyone who knows me will not be shocked to hear that I went all out. Twenty pies, three types of stuffing, seven sides, and dozens of homemade rolls. The pièce de résistance was a frozen twenty-two-pound turkey.

I had never baked a turkey, and attempting it in the tiny oven in my tiny apartment was…well…probably a bit crazy, to be honest. After about forty calls to my mom and dad, three batches of burnt Stove Top, and seven hours of cooking a turkey, I finally had my first ever Thanksgiving meal! It was glorious.

None of us knew how to carve a turkey correctly, so we hacked away at it like maniacs. My dorm didn’t have a dining room, so people were lined up and down both sides of the hallway, on beds and couches, or standing in doorways with plates in hand. As more and more guests arrived, I began to worry that we would run out of food. I had planned on about forty guests, but when 150 showed up, I was freaking out! Then something strange happened. As if by magic, the meal seemed to keep multiplying itself. Somehow, we all got fed. It was the miracle of the Thanksgiving turkey.

With a few more years of experience, I realized that it shouldn’t have taken me seven hours to cook a turkey; I could have done it in one or two hours. How? You can find step-by-step directions here for how to save yourself hours in the kitchen and have your turkey come out perfect every time!

November 9, 2023

A Perfect Apple Pie

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by Mistie Tunbridge

Pastry Chef and Girl with the Golden Smile

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A Thanksgiving meal isn't complete until you end it with a slice of perfect apple pie.

When I was growing up, my grandma always took on the job of making what seemed like hundreds of pies for Thanksgiving dinner. I remember pulling a stool up to the counter, helping her stir, and putting together pies all day long—of course sneaking tastes along the way.

When I got older and more into baking, I decided that I wanted to contribute a pie of my own to Thanksgiving. Thus, my journey began to make the perfect apple pie. Through many trials and errors, from soggy crusts and soupy fillings to pie dry as the desert and sprawls of notes filling a notebook, I finally found the sweet spot of what I consider to be a perfect apple pie: a sweet, flakey, buttery tart shell filled with the crisp sweet flavor of golden delicious apples caramelized in cinnamon sugar. I was finally ready to bring my pie to dinner, thus beginning a new Thanksgiving tradition that's been going on for seven or eight years.

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Perfect Apple Pie

Pie Filling Ingredients:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 3 lb golden delicious apples
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp caramel sauce (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Peel and chop apples into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, caramel, and apples.
  3. Melt half the butter in a frying pan and add half the apples. Cook over medium-high heat until golden and caramelized.
  4. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat Step 3 with remaining butter and apples. Let cool completely.

Tart Shell Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3½ cups flour

Instructions:

  1. Add butter and sugar to a food processor and blend until just combined.
  2. Add the eggs and blend for 30 seconds. Add flour in small portions and blend until dough just comes together. (Do not over blend.)
  3. Add a tablespoon of cold water if dough is too dry. Divide and shape into two disks and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Roll out one disk of crust to about 1⁄8 inch thick. Place in a 9-inch pie pan, and trim off excess pastry around edges.
  3. Add cooled apples to the pie shell and brush the edge of the crust with water. Roll out remaining crust and place over the top. (I like to do a lattice.) Crimp edges and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

November 2, 2023

Culinary Crafts Joins Rocky Mountain Bride’s Venue Collective

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We are delighted to announce that Rocky Mountain Bride magazine has invited Culinary Crafts to join its 2024 vendor collective.

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The collective is an exclusive guide to the best wedding vendors and venues in the U.S. and Canadian Rockies. We are honored to be featured among this amazing group of wedding professionals. The 2024 vendor collective will also feature our in-house bartending service, Bacchus Event Services. It will include the two wedding venues that Culinary Crafts operates, the Kimball Terrace in Park City and the Tasting Room in downtown Salt Lake City.

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We’re also delighted that Rocky Mountain Bride is highlighting Utah’s extraordinary wedding and hospitality industry. As the only state in the U.S. to be awarded three Michelin stars (designating it an “exceptional destination” and “worth a special journey in itself”), Utah is ideal for destination weddings. We’re glad that people are discovering that Utah is a beautiful place to live, work, and celebrate...and to get married!

Watch for photos of our gorgeous weddings and special catered events.

Rocky Mountain Bride Featured Vendor

October 25, 2023

Halloween Stories from Our Team

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This year, our team wanted to share a few of our most cherished Halloween stories and memories. Enjoy!

Sabria Brady, Culinary Crafts team, Field Kitchen Manager, Utah caterer, cabbages, lap full of cabbage Amber King, cheese pizza, pulling apart food, black dress, Utah catering, Culinary Crafts, Utah event planner Matt Kennington, Content Creator, Culinary Crafts, Cheese wheel, chef's coat, bald head, evil grin, Halloween story, Utah catering, out-of-tune piano Kristine Porter, Social Media Manager, bouquet, straw hat, woman in straw hat, garbage bag costume, Utah catering Mischa Chobaz, Utah bartender, Utah catering, bartender in black suit and tie, jazz hands, Karney, Barney's evil brother, costume, Halloween story, Utah bartender, Bacchus, Culinary Crafts Jackson Chapin, Taco Belle, Utah catering, Halloween stories, Culinary Crafts,

From all of us at Culinary Crafts, eat well, be safe, and have a Happy Halloween!

27x winner Utah’s Best of State

24x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

1x Entrepreneur of the Year