Chefs’ resolutions for 2017
The tradition of making a resolution at the beginning of the year stretches back more than four millennia to the Babylonians. Inhabiting what is now part of Iraq, these ancient people pledged to repay debts and return agricultural equipment they’d borrowed in order to appease their capricious gods. These days, our resolutions center less on deity-pleasing and more on self-improvement, altruism and, quite often, food. Befriend leafy greens. Cut back on the cookies. Work your way through an entire cookbook!
Some of the best culinary resolutions, however, come from chefs. This year, we polled local culinary talent about their New Year’s resolutions. With 2017 aspirations ranging from food-fueled journeys abroad to a.m. green smoothies, Utah chefs clearly draw upon founts of inspiration as rich as a hangover brunch on Jan. 1. In turn, we’ve also resolved to eat a particularly enticing dish from each chef. Here are their resolutions and the items we’re tackling on our 2017 to-eat list.
Ryan Lowder, The Copper Onion
A Utah native, Lowder has cooked everywhere from Portland, Ore., and NYC to Barcelona. In 2009, he returned home bringing his worldly repertoire to bear at The Copper Onion. His modern American menu takes its cues from the seasons and locally available ingredients, and we suspect it will get even better after he fulfills his 2017 travel goals:
“To continue the exploration of new food outside of the kitchen and spend more time with my family. I will take more culinary trips to the Southern U.S. states, Colorado, Spain and other European countries while including my family to keep the two loves of my life alive: food and family.”
2017 Dish to Try: We eagerly await slurping up a forkful of puttanesca. Translating from Italian to “in the style of a prostitute,” this dish struts sassy flavors from capers, red onions, anchovies and black olives. At The Copper Onion, housemade tagliatelle and a showering of pecorino elevates this dish to the next level.
The Copper Onion
111 E. 300 South, Ste. 170, SLC
Matt Caputo, Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli
This adult culinary playground has won us over with its cheese cave, epic chocolate bar selection and addictive deli wares. Tony’s son Matt keeps it real with inspirational journeys back to the Boot:
“Travel to Italy with my family. This year was the first time in six years that we went to Europe. We chose Greece, but were a little nervous about taking our young children. Not only did they love it more than we could have hoped, but my four-year-old has never eaten with such gusto. My oldest pointed out the other day, “Papa, if Frankie ate so well in Greece, think about how well she will eat in Italy!” I have covered a lot of ground in Italy, but we would love to take the kids to Rome, Umbria, and Sicily. My kids love good pasta, so we cannot wait to share many classic pasta dishes utilizing bronze-cut, air-dried pasta with them.”
2017 Dish to Try: The muffuletta may not be Italian, but it is filled with Italian cured meats like salami and mortadella, and we’re dying to try the spicy olive salad layered on top.
Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli
Todd Gardiner, Taqueria27
Where the home meets the street—that’s how you might sum up this locally beloved taqueria. Owner/chef Gardiner strives to fuse the welcoming vibe of your own dining room with traditional Latin street food. In 2017, his focus will be on passing down his culinary chops:
“Our 12-year-old, Emme, loves to try new things, but isn’t very excited to cook them. I am dedicating one night a week to teaching her basic kitchen skills and then making the meal of her choice. Hopefully, when she gets older, she will be able to make Kristin and me dinner!”
2017 Dish to Try: The Oaxacan mole plate with ancho, mulato and pasilla chiles, Mexican chocolate and a hint of cinnamon—just one of three impressive mole options here.
Marcelo Ferreira, Squatters Roadhouse Grill
The Squatters Brewery tradition has been alive and well in the Salt Lake area since 1989. But brews aside, Squatters also serves tasty pub food. When we asked Chef Ferreira for his resolution, he delivered a beautiful soliloquy on how to eat healthier without sacrificing flavor. Here’s an excerpt from this eloquent Brazilian chef:
“Eating healthy is at the top of the list. I’m from Brazil and every time I travel back to my country, it’s really hard—on every corner you smell food. If you’ve already traveled to Brazil, you know you always come back with a couple extra pounds. I love to enjoy good food, but it must be healthy. Try to change the bread in your breakfast for a delicious bowl of oats. Change your pancakes for a cup of fruit. Drink more natural juices. I’ve been eating healthy for 10 years now and I will keep doing this for the rest of my life.”
2017 Dish to Try: We’re saying “Yes!” to the bourbon-sauced bread pudding paired with a pint of Outer Darkness, a Russian imperial stout.
Squatters Roadhouse Grill
1900 Park Ave., Park City
Anny Sooksri, Chabaar Beyond Thai
In addition to Chabaar, Sooksri also operates the lovely Tea Rose Diner and the Siam Noodle Bar, where customization is the name of the game. And at her three (soon to be four) local outposts of tasty Thai, “herb” will be the word in 2017:
“I am in Thailand right now for many reasons. One of them is to study Thai herbs and food for my new restaurant, coming in February. In 2017, we approach healthy with fresh ingredients and big flavor. ‘You are what you eat’ is what we always believe. Growing up in Thailand, food was always made with fresh herbs and ingredients. Simple ingredients with fresh vegetables and seasoning is the ideal food for your mind and body!”
2017 Dish to Try: Chabaar’s Thai breakfast. We have our eyes on the kai-jeaw moo sub—eggs, minced pork and veggies pan-fried and served over rice.
Chabaar Beyond Thai
87 W. 7200 South, Midvale
Scott Evans, Pago Restaurant Group
The Pago family includes its namesake eatery at 9th and 9th, along with tapas-centric Finca, East Liberty Tap House, Hub & Spoke Diner and Trestle Tavern. Pago Founder and President Evans has worked at restaurants throughout SLC, but his love of food grew out of his backpacking days, which he hopes to revisit this year:
“I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world over the last 20 years—most of it on a shoestring budget, a backpack with a skateboard and some camping gear attached. Over the last 10 years, I have been returning to some of the more impressionable locales, namely Spain and Italy. But I have yet to return to Portugal. I plan to return this year and experience the region with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the wine and cuisine. I can’t wait!”
2017 Dish to Try: Mary’s Chicken—we love an inventive chicken dish that prompts us to rethink poultry. Pago serves it with Mission figs, balsamic, chicken jus, roasted shallots, arugula and ricotta salata.
878 S. 900 East, SLC
Marco Stevanoni, Veneto
Husband-and-wife team Marco and Amy Stevanoni unite Italian authenticity and local savvy at this downtown restaurant. Originally from Verona, Marco creates a menu that focuses on the cuisine of northeastern Italy, and he’s always looking to make Veneto even more transportive:
“I would like to bring more guest Italian chefs to Veneto. By bringing them here, me and my team will be able to observe how they adapt to cooking in a new environment with our local ingredients. This will serve as a great source of inspiration and innovation for us.”
2017 Dish to Try: Salvaggina con polenta qualifies as edible evidence of the legitimacy of Veneto’s Italian fare. This naturally gluten-free dish features a wild game stew of the day so you’ll never try the same thing twice.
370 E. 900 South, SLC
Omar Abou-Ismail, Omar’s Rawtopia
Since 2005, Rawtopia has been spreading “peace through food” from its cozy spot in Sugar House. If your resolution this year is to eat healthier, you won’t have to think twice about whether any dish on the menu might defy your goals. It’s no surprise that owner/chef Abou-Ismail’s healthy-eating quest will soldier on in 2017:
“Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. A great way to start your day in the morning is to make yourself a green smoothie, adding 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to 1/2 cup of fresh water in the blender. Soak for 30 minutes or overnight, then add 1/4 bunch of cilantro, 1/4 bunch parsley, 1 Granny Smith apple and 1 cup of fresh spinach. Blend and drink. You could use fresh berries instead of apple, and different kinds of greens depending on what you have. Always change it up—your body likes different greens and not the same greens every day. Your health is your true wealth and I promise you will feel more joy!”
2017 Dish to Try: Think outside the tuna box with the spicy curried seaweed roll filled with hemp seeds, crushed macadamia nut rice, avocado, a smattering of veggies and “love” with curried almond sauce.
2148 S. Highland Drive, SLC
Casey Stoker, Zest Kitchen & Bar
We’re not sure what we love more about Zest—the organic vegetarian eats or the seriously inspired cocktails. The entire Zest team is on board with the restaurant’s mission. Chefs Carlos Chapa and Ian Schmidt, for example, have resolved to keep slinging healthy specials, while Chef Sebastian Lehnert is hoping to add some zitrusschale (zest) from his native Germany to the menu. And Stoker continues to stoke his passion for nourishing food:
“My goal is to keep pushing our baker to do more and more sugar-free desserts at Zest. This year I went to L.A. to eat and go to the VegFest. Next year, my goal is Portland and maybe Seattle, just to eat and explore the cities.”
2017 Dish to Try: The Shakahari curry eggplant with pepita crust, fennel curry potatoes, and a cucumber-mint-lime salad has piqued our interest.
Zest Kitchen & Bar
275 S. 200 West, SLC
Seth Adams, Riverhorse on Main
You know that gregarious, smart and talented friend you have? The one who everyone loves and you sort of wish you were more like? Riverhorse on Main is the restaurant version of that friend. Adored by critics, locals and tourists alike, this Park City culinary cornerstone has been led by Chef Adams since 2004, and he’ll keep on keeping on in 2017:
“In the new year, I am excited to challenge myself with some great projects, including our gourmet market and café, Provisions, as well as our new catering kitchen. It is definitely a time of growth for our company, as well as myself. Looking forward to some inspiring travel, too.”
2017 Dish to Try: Crispy frog legs and wild mushrooms served with black garlic gnocchi, Boursin and micro-greens—a bucket-list dish if there ever was one.
Riverhorse on Main
540 Main, Park City