Devour Jan 2016

Page 1

vol. 2 no. 1 • Jan/Feb 2016 • Cook

It’s time to

Learn to Cook p. 14 Chili Out! p. 26 Taco Taco’s Alberto Calderón p. 34

Warm Winter Cocktails p. 50 Devour Utah • January/February 2016 1

2 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

Now Open in Kimball Junction!

1456 Newpark Blvd, Park City | (435) 647-0304 357 Main St, Salt Lake City | (801) 328-0304 Devour Utah • January/February 2016 3

C10ontents Don’t Try at Home

Cheap eats to leave to the pros

14 24 26 32 34 40 50 58

4 Devour Utah • January/February 2016


Classy Cooking Cooking classes for amateurs and pros BY DARBY DOYLE

The Spread Tin Angel Café


Chili Out!

Four takes on the iconic American chili bowl BY AIMEE L. COOK

The Deconstruct Manoli’s


Chef Spotlight

Taco Taco Alberto Higuera Calderón BY TY BRONICEL

Food Truckin’ SoHo Food Park


Spirit Guide

Warm Winter Cocktails BY CHELSEA NELSON

Mind of a Cook BY VIET PHAM

Devour Utah • January/February 2016 5


Publisher JOHN SALTAS General Manager


Editorial Editor Editorial Staff Contributors



Writer and recovering archaeologist Darby Doyle highlights hip SLC as a contributor to She also blogs about boozy experiments at

Production Art Director Assistant Production Manager Graphic Artists


Business/Office Accounting Manager Associate Business Manager Office Administrator Technical Director


Heather L. King writes about food, travel and culture in Utah and beyond. She is the founder of Utah Ladies Who Lunch and a proud Great Dane owner.

Marketing Marketing Manager Marketing Coordinator


Circulation Circulation Manager


Sales Magazine Advertising Director Newsprint Advertising Director Digital Operations Manager Senior Account Executives Retail Account Executives Devour Store Assistant Manager


Distribution is complimentary throughout the Wasatch Front. Additional copies of Devour are available for $4.95 at the Devour offices located at 248 S. Main, Salt Lake City, UT 84101 • 801-575-7003 • Email editor at Advertising contact:

Copperfield Publishing Copyright 2016. All rights reserved

6 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

Aimee L. Cook writes for several local publications. She enjoys reviewing all things art, entertainment and food related.

Ty Bronicel is a University of Utah graduate and freelance writer/editor who has worked for MSN, Yahoo,,,,, The Seattle Times and currently the Deseret News. In addition to Salt Lake City, he’s lived in Seattle; Santa Monica, Calif.; New Orleans; and Portland, Ore.

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Devour Utah • January/February 2016 7

Cook It Just


8 Devour Utah • January/February 2016


ot everyone loves to cook. My wife loathes it. But she, like everyone else I know, likes to eat. And so, unless you thrive solely on raw foods, cooking is a part of your life, whether you actually spend any time in the kitchen or not. This issue of Devour Utah isn’t a how-to guide about cooking, but rather it delves into the minds of cooks, where to find inexpensive (albeit complex) comfort foods, and the techniques and tricks behind creating foods from lamb sliders to chile de árbol salsa. There’s a profile of SoHo Food Park, where intrepid food truckers pursue their meal-making missions even during the most challenging, chilliest winter days. And, it’s about using foods to do more than just garnish your cocktails. If you do have an interest in cooking, Darby Doyle offers an array of educational cooking options ranging from simple cheese and wine-tasting classes at Caputo’s to the amazing ProStart program, which trains would-be teenage cooks on the tools behind professional cooking and restaurant running. From the can-barely-boil water cook to the I-wanna-be-a-Top Chef, there are cooking programs available locally at every level. True confession: My love affair with cooking began with following recipes (usually from Gourmet magazine that were way over my head and ability) in order to impress dates. I remember cooking scallops in Cognac-cream sauce for a gal named Rebecca before I even knew what a scallop was or where it came from. I don’t remember how the dish turned out, but Rebecca is no longer in the picture. I’m especially fond of the great chef Viet Pham’s essay that closes this issue of Devour, because it documents the humbling of a very creative cook and gets at the reason we all cook—professionally or otherwise: to make people happy. So, happy cooking! ❖ —Ted Scheffler Editor



Some people sing. Some people paint. I make eyeglasses. - John Cottam, Optician Making eyeglasses since 1964

602 East 500 South | 801.359.2020 | | Upper Level Center Court Trolley Square Devour Utah • January/February 2016 9

Don’t Try At Home

Tamales $1.75

10 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

Dac Biet

Four bargain dishes better left to the pros




hefs cook so that those who enjoy eating their cuisine don’t have to. Chefs stock their kitchens with unique items, create intricate menus and carefully prepare their specialties so that we can dig in without a thought of burning the soufflé. And even for those who enjoy spending time in the kitchen, there are dishes too expensive, complicated or time-consuming to fuss with at home. Here are a handful of inexpensive dishes that are better off left to the pros:

Tamales Why make tamales when Tamales Tita exists? Making masa, the filling, the wrapping and then cooking them? No, thanks. The folks at this modest, family-owned restaurant spend hours in the kitchen, so you don’t have to. Tamales Tita sells meaty, traditional tamales, as well as vegan versions and even dessert tamales, to eat in or take out. They’re priced so low, they’re fun to experiment with, and they come in unique flavors like pineapple or the more traditional jalapeño and cheese. Tamales Tita 7760 S. 3200 West, West Jordan 801-282-0722

Dac Biet A few years ago, the words “báhn mi” were foreign to most Salt Lakers. Now, the flavorful Vietnamese sandwiches are a staple, thanks largely to Oh Mai and the fact that our kitchens aren’t stocked with delicacies like pork pâté and head cheese. The dac biet (Oh Mai’s original sandwich) is loaded with a four-pork combination of ham roll, smooth pate, head cheese and jambon ham slathered with garlic butter and mayo, and topped with cucumbers, pickled carrots and daikon. The cool, astringent flavors cut right through the pork’s fattiness, while the baguette that holds it all together is delightfully crisp, yet soft inside. Oh Mai 3425 S. State, SLC 801-467-6882 6093 S. Highland Drive, Holladay 801-277-9888

Devour Utah • January/February 2016 11

Chicken & Waffles $10

Chicken & Waffles I’ve heard of people making fried chicken at home, and most folks are handy with a waffle iron, but making fried chicken and waffles at the same time? A simpler solution is to visit the Ogden or Salt Lake location of Pig & A Jelly Jar to savor the ultimate comfort food: a Belgian waffle topped with a crispy fried chicken breast and drizzled with sweet maple syrup. It’s a triumph of flavors and textures—sweet and savory; crispy and fluffy. Pig & A Jelly Jar 401 E. 900 South, Suite A, SLC 385-202-7366 227 25th St., Ogden 801-605-8400

Ramen I’m pretty sure it takes days to make ramen, but then again, I’ve never tried. When I crave the savory, soupy stuff, I visit Japan Sage Market where I can buy a bowl for less than what a sandwich typically costs. With four flavors of ramen flavor to choose from, you’re sure to find something you’ll love. Shio (sea salt) is the most traditional flavor, while shoyu is flavored with fermented soy sauce. For miso, full-flavored miso paste is used, and tonkatsu is hearty ramen flavored with pork. It’s rockin’ ramen. Japan Sage Market 1515 S. Main, SLC 801-484-4122 12 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

Ramen $7

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Devour Utah • January/February 2016 13

Cooking CLASSY

Where Utah cooks and chefs get schooled By Darby Doyle

14 Devour Utah • January/February 2016



t’s like I’m on a cooking show. All the ingredients are already prepped and ready to go,” says my friend Terri Shepherd, who also happens to be one of the best home cooks I know. We’re catching up on life and kids, and we get to talking about our favorite cooking classes. “And the wine,” I say. “There’s always great wine.” She agrees wholeheartedly: “And I love learning about new ingredients.” I second that. There’s quite an artisan chocolate stash I’ve hidden from my kids behind more than a dozen jars of exotic salt, all due to this particular predilection of hoarding novel ingredients. “But the best part is that someone else swoops in as we use bowls and stuff, and they clean everything up when we’re done,” Terri says, for the win. We’ve taken classes all over the Salt Lake Valley—from beer tastings and demonstration lessons, to hands-on advanced cookingtechnique instruction. Although I grew up learning from amazing home cooks in my family—and worked in restaurant kitchens during high school and college—there’s always a new motivation to learn more. And cooking classes make for a fun and interactive outing alone or with friends. My husband and I have even attended a couple of classes for date night, because nothing says “romance” like butchering a chicken with the fine folks at Caputo’s Market. Maybe you want to learn more about a winemaking region, master perfect homemade gnocchi, or yearn to tackle advanced pastry like croissants or phyllo. Perhaps you’re ready to launch your own business in the food industry


Harmons Chef Aaron Ballard

Devour Utah • January/February 2016 15



Wine educator Sheral Schowe

Harmons City Creek Chef Aaron Ballard



Local Culinary Coaches

16 Devour Utah • January/February 2016


Learn the art of charcuterie from Beltex Meats Chef Philip Grubisa

or know a teenager eager to jump-start his or her professional culinary career through the groundbreaking Utah Restaurant Association’s (URA) ProStart education program. There’s a perfect food or beverage program out there, guaranteed. Swing by any afternoon and you’ll find the City Creek kitchen of Harmons ( buzzing with activity, all calmly and humorously directed by Chef Aaro n Ballard. But there’s no such thing as a typical afternoon for this guy: Ballard may be preparing for a private event on the mezzanine for 100 guests, assisting wine educator Sheral Schowe with her popular lunch-hour premiumwine club, getting ready for a homemade ramen tutorial, or leading a food-safety and techniques class for refugees through one of Harmons’ outreach programs. Regardless of the demographic or subject matter of the class, Ballard says, “the primary goal of an evening for me is about creating a memorable experience.” After teaching for years, Ballard says he knows students “will leave a class understanding a set of principles that can be applied to Indian food or American cuisine,” regardless of the specific topic. “The recipes are simply the vehicle that drive us there,” he says. Harmons also hosts classes at Bangerter Crossing with Chef Shaun Heaslet, while Chef James Macari

teaches at the Farmington Station Park store. Spreading southward, Harmons Santa Clara Cooking School will be saucing things up for the citizens of St. George starting in February. Folks in Utah County can look forward to a shorter commute to class with the Harmons Traverse Mountain location opening next year. “Regardless of what type of class it is,” says Chef Ballard, “I have never had anyone leave hungry.” The University of Utah’s Continuing Education & Community Engagement (CECE) Lifelong Learning classes ( also utilize Harmons Cooking School kitchens, as well as classroom sites across the state. All taught by a mind-bogglingly diverse pool of experts within their respective fields. Check out classes like “Whiskies of the World” with spirits guru Jimmy Santangelo at Trio Cottonwood Heights, or “The Art of Charcuterie” taught on-site at Beltex Meats’ warehouse by nose-to-tail butchering evangelist Chef Philip Grubisa. From demonstration classes on cuisines of the world to the definitive DIY experience (like the popular “How to Brew Beer,” instructed by the hopheads at Ogden Brew Supply), there’s probably a class right up your culinary alley. CECE classes also provide professionalgrowth support for folks interested in starting a new career or fine-tuning their knowledge base. Ready to up

Devour Utah • January/February 2016 17

Salt Lake City’s “queen of canning,” Alison Einerson


your science-based exercise and nutrition education cred? There are a slew of classes, such as “Advanced Nutrition Science,” taught on the U of U main campus. Want to see what it really takes to start your own foodtruck business? Spend an afternoon with Carl Rabadue (owner of the Saucey Skillet food truck) while you learn about “finding and outfitting the right vehicle, working with a prep kitchen, [understanding] local laws and requirements for food-truck operation, and more.” It’s the professional inside scoop, all in a couple of hours. Sometimes you can go directly to the source for culinary inspiration or

validation. Like when I renewed my love of home preservation a few years ago in a class taught by Salt Lake City’s “queen of canning,” Alison Einerson, through the Downtown Farmers Market ( In addition to the basic food-science reassurance I needed to re-create my grandma’s canning recipes without the fear of botulism, I also made friends with fellow canning nerds, and we still keep in touch swapping recipes, surplus jars and garden bounty. Several restaurants and ethnic markets offer ingredient demos or handson cooking classes. In addition to running her two popular Saffron Valley



Downtown Farmers Market

restaurant locations, Indian cuisine expert Lavanya Mahate teaches classes for 8 to 12 people featuring delicious specialties from the diverse Indian food-scape. On her website (, Mahate explains that her classes are “more than about putting a meal on the table. They’re about exploring the pleasure inherent in the process.” Many local instruction programs appeal to cooks looking to improve their basic kitchen skills while learning about a food or cuisine that they’ve experienced at a restaurant or when traveling, and want to own it in their home kitchens. My friend Terri became


18 Devour Utah • January/February 2016



Saffron Valley owner and Indian cuisine expert Lavanya Mahate

more than a

shop, with

gourmet, locally sourced sandwiches, salads, juices and other healthy eats.

1100 East 2011 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84106 (801) 883-8867

Curious Concoctions of

Professor Julian Raintree




Salt Lake Culinary Center

Janene Crystal instructing a student

20 Devour Utah • January/February 2016





SLCC Chef/ instructor Shirley Zorn

a risotto fanatic after attending a class at Caputo’s ( several years ago. “We used four different kinds of rice grains to make four different kinds of risotto,” she says. She loved learning how Italians choose their rice according to their home region and the type of dish they are making. Terri also took a “Risotto 101” class at the Salt Lake Culinary Center ( Formerly the Viking Cooking School, the SLCC reaffirmed her opinion that risotto, in addition to being an almost perfect comfort food, is, as she says, “the most social food you can make for guests” at a dinner party. “Everyone’s in the kitchen, anyway” she says, “I’m glad to put them to work taking turns stirring while we catch up over drinks.” Eager to learn more about one of my favorite entertaining foods, Spanish tapas, I recently attended a class on the subject taught by SLCC Chef Mollie Snider, one of many talented SLCC teachers that include Shirley Zorn and Janene Crystal. One couple there was planning a 20th wedding anniversary trip to Spain and enrolled in the class to learn more about the flavors and food vocabulary they’d be experiencing on their trip. After working on knife skills getting garlic shrimp ready, our class sipped Chef Snider’s housemade

boozy sangria while the high-tech Blendtecs buzzed up an immediately addictive Romesco sauce that we’d be generously spooning over ovenroasted chicken wings fragrant with smoked paprika. The soon-to-be Spain-bound couple was hooked, and the rest of us were re-evaluating our vacation plans. That’s only a sampling of the SLCC courses available. With three full professional-grade kitchens and a different class almost every day, the SLCC offers instruction for all ages at any level, from Saturday afternoon “Junior Chef” classes to gluten-free baking techniques, cuisines of the world and master pastry classes. The SLCC also partners with the Park City Culinary Institute (PCCI) to provide 8-to-10-week intensive professional culinary training courses, hosted at the SLCC kitchens and at Deer Valley. Want to streamline your own home kitchen technique or start a foodbased business? Are you considering a career shift into the restaurant industry? The PCCI program ( might just be right for you. In 1996, Melva Sine, head of the Utah Restaurant Association (URA), created Utah’s pilot ProStart program ( pro-start). Since then, hundreds of thousands of high school juniors and seniors have prepared for food


it’s criminal

552 West 8360 South, Midvale 801.706.1428 Devour Utah • January/February 2016 21

ProStart Teen Chef team members Madeline & Lauren



Utah ProStart Teen Chef Masters host Matt Caputo, front. with chefs, back (L-R), Viet Pham, Logen Crew and Briar Handley

Utah ProStart Teen Chef Masters mentors/chefs Viet Pham (Ember & Ash), Briar Handley (Handle, Park City), Logen Crew (a ProStart alum, now at Current Fish & Oyster), and weekly guest judges such as Pastry Chef extraordinaire Amber Billingsley (3 Cups). Katy Sine, Utah ProStart Teen Chef Masters TV series producer and daughter of URA’s Melva Sine, reiterates that ProStart provides more than just cooking classes. “The program introduces students to restaurant skills from front-of-house management practices to working as a line cook in fine-dining restaurants,” she says.

22 Devour Utah • January/February 2016


ProStart’s Natalie Schwab demonstrates techniques to students

Katy also believes that the ProStart program is one of many reasons Utah is acknowledged nationally as a top recruiting pool for talent. She praises ProStart teens for being “a welleducated and capable work force” prepared to enter this competitive field with confidence and real-life experience. Says Katy’s mom and URA’s founder Melva Sine in a recent press release, “These are really incredible young people who know how to work hard. The future for our industry is bright and will be in their very capable hands.” ❖

Utah ProStart Program


careers in all 50 states. In 2014, Utah’s ProStart trained more than 1,500 students in 70-plus schools. In addition to classroom-honed skills such as knife work, food safety and nutrition fundamentals taught by instructors such as Natalie Schwab, ProStart teens annually prepare Thanksgiving dinners for more than 1,000 needy families, partnering with the Salvation Army. Students also compete in regional, state and national culinary competitions. The most recent state competition, Utah ProStart Teen Chef Masters, was televised and featured Matt Caputo as the competition host, with professional

Prepared family-style meals made from scratch for you

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pread S Tin Angel Beet Salad 24 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

The ecletic interior of Tin Angel Cafe


angel cafe


ocated in a historical pioneer-era house decorated with a bohemian palette of thrifted treasures and contemporary local art with an art-nouveau flair, Tin Angel Café has been charming downtown diners since 2007. This funky restaurant is owned by husband & wife, Jerry and Kestrel Liedtke, and friend Robin Kilpatrick, who works as hostess. “What distinguishes the Tin Angel from other Salt Lake restaurants is that we are so very customer-driven. We love Salt Lake and we want the people who live here to have great dining experiences,” Kestrel says. “This is why we put our hearts into the art, music, feel and especially the food in our restaurant. We hope to create a little magic in people’s lives while supporting local agriculture.” The menu is focused on high-quality locally sourced ingredients. Serving a lunch and dinner menu that features local-beef sliders as tapas and imaginative small plates like Moroccan cauliflower and chickpeas served with crunchy bread, as well as enticing entrées such as lamb strip loin, Chef Jerry Liedtke is out to please every palate. Creative cocktails and a notable wine list round out the Tin Angel meal, while Saturday brunch offers eggcentric dishes, a small-plates menu, sandwiches and salads. Be sure to order the Bloody Mary Slider capped with a full-size beef slider, speck-wrapped shrimp and pickled vegetables—it’s a meal and a cocktail in one. ❖

The Tin Angel’s Bloody Mary Slider

365 W. 400 South, SLC 801-328-4155 —Amanda Rock Photos by John Taylor

Devour Utah • January/February 2016 25 Tin Angel owners (L-R): Robin Kilpatrick, Chef Jerry Liedtke and Kestrel Liedtke

Chili Out A classic American creation that you can have your way BY AIMEE L. COOK PHOTOS BY TYSON ROLLINS


lthough it might not be the most visually pleasing dish, and not even all that complicated to make, chili has made a strong and spicy impact on American culinary history. No one knows exactly who made the first bowl; some say Texas cattle drivers created it on the trails, while others suggest women in San Antonio introduced chili in the late 1800s. Whatever story you believe, the fact is, people are still trying to perfect it (just consider the hundreds of chili cookoffs held each year). There are variations to fit any taste preference: beef vs. buffalo, turkey vs. vegetarian, beans vs. no beans, red vs. green, and so on. But the common dominator is chile, which refers to the peppers or powders used, and distinguishes the magical creation from any of its look-alikes.

26 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

Bourbon Black Bean Buffalo Chili

Executive chef Matt Crandall

Executive chef Matt Crandall at Whiskey Street developed the recipe for this smoky concoction of black beans, bourbon and molasses under a time crunch, and perfected it on the first try. The consistency is both thick and creamy with a beef base and tender chunks of buffalo that nearly melt in your mouth. He roasts Anaheim, habanero and pasilla chiles in-house, and the spice combination tickles the back of the throat ever so slightly—just enough to know it’s there. A topping of shredded fontina cheese melts perfectly and blends into the chili bowl nicely. Whiskey Street 323 S. Main, SLC 801-433-1371

Whiskey Street

Bourbon Black Bean Buffalo Chili Devour Utah • January/February 2016 27

Silver Fork Lodge’s Turkey Chili

Turkey Chili A popular spin on the classic tomato-based chili is to use turkey meat instead of beef. Dan Knopp, owner of Silver Fork Lodge, brought his family’s chili recipe to the Silver Fork menu 10 years ago. Knopp wanted to differentiate his chili by adding hominy and black beans. In addition, the turkey is shredded, so you get a taste of it in every bite. Coriander and cumin are the star spices, which Knopp adds to give his chili more of a Mexican flare. For the finale, the steaming chili bowl is topped with red onions and shredded cheddar cheese for added texture and flavor. Silver Fork Lodge 11332 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road Near Brighton & Solitude resorts 801-533-9977

Traditional Chili The Tex Mex chili at Boston Deli is as about traditional as it gets. Owners Dan Hansen and Henry Carbajal inherited the recipe when they took over the business in 2001. Loaded with green peppers, onions, ground beef, jalapeños, chili powder and celery, the mixture of flavors is exactly what you would expect in an archetypal American chili bowl. Topped with shredded cheddar cheese and served with cornbread, this timeless version might not wow you with its cutting edginess, but sometimes, a steaming bowl of classic chili con carne is all you need. Boston Deli 9 Exchange Place, SLC 801-355-2146

28 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

Boston Deli’s Traditional Chili

From the dock to your table, we bring the harbor to you We wanted to create a neighborhood restaurant that gives our guests a sense of home. Our menu is based on simple comfort food, where the taste and quality stands for what we believe in. Founded by Randall Curtis & Taylor Jacobsen, our goal was simple: give our guests not only the freshest seafood and prime steaks but also serve an affordable wine selection and craft cocktails. Harbor Seafood & Steak Co. is now offering private catering for all functions! From office holiday parties to home dinners, our Executive Chef Justin Jacobsen will design a menu that will set your party off. We are currently open for Dinner Tuesday thru Sunday. Book Us Now For Your Next Holiday Party Or Cater

Located on the corner of 2100 South & 2300 East in SugarHouse 2302 Parley’s Way I (801) 466-9827 Devour Utah • January/February 2016 29

Vertical Diner’s Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about vegetarian chili, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Horizontal Chili served at the Vertical Diner. Created by chef and owner, Ian Brandt, the thick bowl of beans and corn is heavily spiced, so I didn’t even miss the meat. Horizontal Chili employs chiles de árbol and jalapeños for heat, and pasillas and Anaheims for body. Mexican oregano and smoked paprika offer additional flavor dimensions in tandem with the more traditional cumin and coriander. Guests can order Horizontal chili on a burger, fries or chili mac & cheese. Vertical Diner 2280 S. West Temple, SLC 801-484-8378

30 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

Urban EssEntials

Organics, groceries & snacks • Local beers Smokes & sundries • Excellent cold beverage selection! Kombucha & Emergen-C • Fresh seasonal fruit Ice cream • Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate

353 West 200 south, slC, Ut | 801.521.2106 7am-midnight Mon-sat; 10am-10pm sunday Devour Utah • January/February 2016 31

The 32 Devour Utah • January/February 2016


f you show up at Manoli’s Greek-inspired restaurant looking for gyros and souvlaki, you’ve come to the wrong place. For starters, the clean, airy, modern space doesn’t look like the traditional Greek restaurant. And, Manoli Katsanevas cooks up Greek meze and entrees like psari psito, but with a bold, contemporary flair. For example, he takes what is probably Greece’s most iconic food—lamb—and turns it into lamb-belly sliders that would fit perfectly into the grooviest hipster eatery. Virtually everything at Manoli’s is made from scratch, including his Greek coffee barbecue slider sauce, which is a smoky, spicy blend of red-wine vinegar, brown sugar, smoked paprika, dry mustard, Nescafe frappé and cayenne pepper. Square slabs of lamb belly are seared simply with salt and pepper and served on artisan buns with housepickled hot-house cucumbers and a smoked feta cheese spread of cream cheese, scallions and feta, all smoked with hickory chips. These sensational sliders come three to a plate. But trust me, once you taste one, you’ll want a dozen. Try them with one of Manoli’s creative cocktails, such as the Moscow Moulári. ❖ —Ted Scheffler Photos by Niki Chan


Lamb Belly Sliders 402 E. 900 South, SLC 801-532-3760 Devour Utah • January/February 2016 33

Near Miss Alberto Calderón’s

34 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

How Cannella’s & Taco Taco’s executive chef nearly became a lawyer. BY TY BRONICEL PHOTOS BY JOHN TAYLOR


Alberto Higuera Calderón

uckily for Salt Lake City taco lovers, Chef Alberto Higuera Calderón didn’t follow his initial impulse to become an attorney. Otherwise, he’d be crafting closing arguments instead of creating killer carne asada. Calderón, who’s the executive chef for not just Cannella’s (204 E. 500 South, SLC, 801-355-8518,, the venerable downtown Italian restaurant, but also for the hip, adjoining Taco Taco (208 E. 500 South, SLC, 801-4282704,, grew up in La Paz, in Mexico's Baja peninsula, and was always curious about cooking. He’d pop into the kitchen now again as a kid and mess around. Problem was, “It was old-school,” he says. “The women in my family thought they were the only ones who were supposed to cook.” So, his mother, grandmother and aunts would often hand Calderón a tostada with beans and cheese and shoo him away. But that didn’t dissuade him from the culinary world. What nearly did, though, were his thoughts of practicing law. A champion competitive swimmer in Mexico as a teenager, Calderón earned a scholarship to the University of Sonora with the intent to become a lawyer. “But I realized, sometimes lawyers have to do bad things, you know, and I’m too honest for that,” Calerdon says of the profession, laughing. While at Sonora, he cooked for himself and his roommates and that’s when he realized he wanted to make a living as a chef. After college, Calderón and two buddies wound up in Boston, working low on the totem pole at the Chart House restaurant, but mostly cooking for Odyssey, a cruise-boat company that ferried tourists around Boston Harbor. That was in 2001. Then came 9/11. Devour Utah • January/February 2016 35

"The secret [to cooking well] is passion." — Alberto Calderón

The warm, earthy decor of Taco Taco

Because of the cruises' proximity to Logan airport, Odyssey was forced to temporarily cease operations, and Calderón suddenly was out of work. Not wanting to return to La Paz, he landed in Utah, where an aunt was living. Calderón worked line-cook gigs at Chevy’s Tex-Mex, Ruth’s Diner, Fresco (where he was a sous chef for eight years), the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and Trio before learning of an opening at Cannella’s. “I met Berto in 2008 when I interviewed him for a job after he came highly recommended,” co-owner/operator Joey Cannella Jr. says. “I liked the guy within the first minute and, once I saw him in the kitchen, I knew he was going to be great. You can taste the love in his food. He cooked Mexican and Italian food at my wedding in 2009 since my wife is Mexifin (Mexican and Finnish), and I’m Italian. It was the best wedding food anyone ever had, and it’s still talked about to this day.” Adds Cannella: "Fortunately, he got to know and work with my dad (Joe Sr.) before he died in 2008, so I feel blessed to have his presence on our corner of the world.” Calderón says of Joe Sr.: “He was a great guy—very good to me. When I’d make a special that he really liked, at the end of the night, he’d hand me an extra $100 bill, wink and say, ‘Don’t tell my wife.’” At Taco Taco, a hit since it opened in summer of 2014, Calderón’s specialties are his insanely good carne asada, cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork marinated in citrus juice and annatto) and his latest creation, spicy chicken chile verde. “It’s off-the-charts good,” Cannella Jr. says. “None of this bland, trendy gringo crap.” When Calderón isn’t working, he’ll whip up some fresh ceviche and enjoy a cerveza or tequila with friends at his apartment— which just happens to be right above Cannella’s. His favorite local restaurants are Mariscos Ensenada (4855 S. Redwood Road, Taylorsville, 801-269-4535,, Kyoto (1080 E. 1300 South, SLC, 801-487-3525, and Takashi (18 W. Market St., SLC, 801-519-9595)—and, yes, in addition to cooking divine Mexican, Italian and Chinese food, the versatile Calderón can even make sushi. “The secret,” he says of cooking well, “is passion.” The Cannellas, as well as a growing number of Taco Taco fanatics, can attest to that: Taste the flavor and feel the love. ❖ 36 Devour Utah • January/February 2016 Alberto Calderón

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What’s a taco without sensational salsa? Here is one of Chef Alberto Calderón’s favorite recipes. Make it yourself or enjoy it at Taco Taco.

Alberto Higuera Calderón's

Chile de Arbol Salsa

2 tablespoons canola oil 4 ounces dried árbol chiles*—about 20-25 chiles, depending on size—stems removed 1 garlic clove, minced 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar 10 Roma tomatoes Kosher salt Black pepper 1. Add the oil to a cast-iron skillet (or similar) over medium heat and char the chiles until slightly browned (about 2-3 minutes), then set aside. Note: Don’t get the heat too high or you’ll burn them, which will result in a bitter salsa and a smoky kitchen. 2. In a stock pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add the tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes, drain and let cool for 15 minutes. 3. In a food processor, combine the chiles, tomatoes, garlic and red-wine vinegar. Pulse for 1-2 minutes until the texture is smooth and consistent. 4. Add kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Makes approximately 1 quart

*Editor’s note: Dried árbol chiles (also known as bird’s beak chiles) can be found at Rancho Markets and other Mexican grocery stores. They are quite potent (about an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1-10 if a habanero is a 10, estimates Calderón). So, warn family, friends and/or guests if they’re, ahem, heat sensitive, although the profile of this salsa is smoky, with a nice back-end burn and just the right amount of kick. It can be served with chips, drizzled over everything from eggs to enchiladas or even used as a marinade.

38 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

Devour Utah • January/February 2016 39

Truckin' SoHo Food Park keeps food truckers cookin’ in the cold BY HEATHER L. KING


tahns have never shied away from the outdoors in the wintertime, so it should come as no surprise that they are willing to brave the elements to enjoy gourmet foodtruck cuisine. But how do the 100-or-so Utah food-truck vendors satisfy their customers' desire for piping hot cuisine in the chillier months of winter? The answer, say truck owners, is to build a community of supporters and work with like-minded vendors. And while Food Truck Thursday at the Gallivan Center and the Food Truck Underground have become central gathering places, Holladay’s new SoHo Food Park seeks to provide more for both the food truckers and the diners who frequent them. SoHo (South Holladay) Food Park is the brainchild of owners Mark and Shelly Olsen, who spent several years working with the city of Holladay to change the laws to allow their food-truck park venture. “We wanted to create a place that’s friendly for the food trucks, where they can plug into power without the noisy generators, and where it’s just like a restaurant, only the person bussing the tables isn’t the same person providing the food,” Mark says. They determined that by providing a permanent location where customers could find food trucks more than just once a week—and also enjoy built-in seating and heaters for warmth in the winter—they could take Utah’s food-truck evolution to the next level. “It’s a community for the trucks,” Shelly says. “They are able to create a following here.” The Olsens look for three things when deciding which food trucks make the SoHo Food Park cut. “Food quality, safety, and they have to be friendly, nice people,” Mark says. Shelly personally vets each truck by visiting them at other venues before inviting them to SoHo. This way, she

40 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

says, “We can make sure that no matter what food truck customers are eating at, they’re enjoying that experience.” The Olsens have approximately 30 trucks in rotation to fill their six permanent spots each day and they work diligently to make sure that there are no similar cuisine types or direct competitors together at any given time. “It’s important that there is variety, and [that] you know you have six very unique restaurants,” she says. SoHo Food Park is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. this winter, where you’ll typically find either Shelly or Mark in the SoHo Shack mixing up a batch of their Belgian hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and caramel or raspberry sauce. Track down the intrepid trucks online as well as via Facebook and Twitter.


Utah’s original gourmet food truck, Chow Truck, brought new meaning to mobile food. Back in 2010, founder SuAn Chow cooked up the concept of Asian-inspired California fusion cuisine on wheels and paved the way for hundreds of Utah food trucks to follow; laying the groundwork that SoHo Food Park is now expanding upon. “SuAn is the godmother of food trucks,” says new Chow Truck chef and owner J. Looney. “None of them would be on the road if it weren’t for her. She was a pioneer of the [food truck] legislation and blazed the trail to help them determine how it should work. That’s a big part of her legacy.” On Nov. 1, 2015, Looney got behind the wheel of Chow Truck and hopes to bring it back to its former glory in 2016. “We are going to get back to basics and make sure we are the best at what we do.” His strategy is to bring his truck “where the people are so they can enjoy this fantastic food and get it super fast,” and SoHo is part of his plan. By sticking to the core menu that Chow initially designed for speed, Looney intends to deliver the Southeast Asian flavors he loves and that Chow Truck is known for at a pace unusual for gourmet trucks. “Our average ticket time is a minute-and-a-half to two minutes,” he says. Looney worked on the Chow Truck for two years prior to purchasing it and learned the ins and outs of the business. He’ll maintain the core menu but put his own spin on the menu with regular specials. Look for the carne asada taco with pickled red peppers, Thai basil chimichurri and a ginger garlic aioli. Looney smokes the pork for two hours over hickory, then puts it over the char grill for a nice sear, and finally braises the beef for about six additional hours. His January special is a Japanese braised pork belly with coriander wasabi aioli and Asian slaw. Chow Truck

Founder/former Chow Truck owner SuAn Chow


Chow Truck pork belly tacos


Chow Truck

New Chow Truck owner J. Looney.

Devour Utah • January/February 2016 41


Chow Truck


The Ramen Mobile Good ramen is art in food form—so you might not expect much when it comes off a truck. But The Ramen Mobile has limited its menu to just four winter offerings to perfect its authentic Japanese broth. The Ramen Mobile owner, Miwako (Miwa) Hunter, highly encourages slurping all items. Try the classic Piggy Ramen for creamy tonkatsu pork broth filled with noodles, egg, green onions, bean sprouts and, of course, tender slices of pork roast—not your traditional char siu—but filling and flavorful on a cold winter’s day. There’s also the miso Nummy Ramen, a soy bean pastebased broth; and the soy sauce (shoyu) Happy Ramen. Or take a spicy spin with the Devil Ramen, a choice of base broth kicked up a few notches on the heat scale. The Ramen Mobile

The Ramen Mobile's Piggy Ramen


42 Devour Utah • January/February 2016


The Ramen Mobile


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Chicken is fried to golden-brown perfection

Black’s Sliders Aaron Black, owner and operator of Black’s Sliders, says that the best part of 2015 was that, “the SoHo Food Park introduced so many people to the food-truck scene, and it was really embraced by the masses.” Of the truck’s offerings, the most popular slider is Scooters Southern Fried Chicken, based on Black’s Southern family secrets. “We take great care to put out the most authentic food, so we use a special brine and seasoning, with a prep that takes well over 24 hours,” he says. Balancing heat and savory flavors, the chicken is fried to golden-brown perfection and then served on a bun with all the right fixings. Black’s Sliders focuses on locally sourced products and hormone- and antibiotic-free meats to provide customers with the healthiest experience possible. Says Aaron, “Our menu has been constructed with the goal to bring an elevated dining experience to the mobile setting.” Slider enthusiasts agree. Black’s Sliders


44 Devour Utah • January/February 2016


Sliders are served on buns with all the right fixings.

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The Cupbop crew




High-octane Korean BBQ

A family-run business where the owners are as much characters as cooks, the Cupbop crew is by far having the most fun of any food truck at SoHo, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Wasatch Front food truck follower who isn’t a Cupbop convert—or "Cupbopper." Cupbop’s slogan, “Korean BBQ in a Cup,” is surprisingly simple but gets at the tremendous flavor packed into each bowl. Order the combo cup for the biggest burst of savory, sweetness and heat; choose two barbecued meats (beef, pork or chicken) over rice and lettuce. A side of Korean noodles completes the dish, Korean-style vegetarian bops also are available. Cupbop


46 Devour Utah • January/February 2016


SoHo Food Park, during the day

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Saturday's Waffle Bananas Foster


Saturday's Waffle


Saturday’s Waffle Conclude your visit at the SoHo Food Park with a sweet ending from Saturday’s Waffle. Here the Liege waffle takes center stage—containing chunks of pearl sugar for caramelized sweetness in every bite. Owners Mike Law and Richard Larsen have crafted their sweet dessert waffle menu to include the Maple Bacon waffle with crunchy bacon bits, S’more drizzled with Speculoos spread and the Bananas Foster waffle mounded with slices of fresh banana, cinnamon foster sauce, coconut whipped cream and crunchy pralines. A new winter special is the Peppermint Express: a chocolate Liege waffle topped with chocolate whipped cream, white chocolate peppermint sauce and crushed peppermints. Baby, it’s cold outside, but not too cold for the intrepid SoHo food truckers. Saturday’s Waffle

SoHo Food Park 4747 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay 801-560-8200


48 Devour Utah • January/February 2016


SoHo Food Park, at night

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Retail Hours: Friday 12-5, Saturday 10-2 155 West Malvern Ave. | 801.680.8529 SaltandSmokeMeats.Com Devour Utah • January/February 2016 49

Winning ByChelseaNelson•PhotosByDerekCarlisle

Perhaps when you think about winter imbibing, the traditional hot toddy or boozy Irish Coffee comes to mind. While those are cold weather classics, I invite you to get out and try some of the more creative warm winter libations that fine bartenders in our area are creating. From downtown Salt Lake City to Park City, you can find soulwarming cocktails, sure to keep away the chills.

The Cocktail: Gin & Ginger The Maker:

Chris Panarelli OP Rockwell

268 Main, Park City 435-615-7000


f you are into craft cocktails, OP Rockwell is a spot you don’t want to miss, and Chris Panarelli is doing his part to blow up the cocktail scene here in Utah. The Gin & Ginger cocktail is a great example of his creativity and skill. Using Beehive Barrel Reserve Gin, lemon juice, housemade ginger simple syrup, red wine and aromatic bitters, he has created a beautiful, vibrant and hearty winter cocktail. He’ll even ignite the cinnamon stick garnish for an extra smoky component. It is definitely worth a trip to Park City. 50 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

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TheDamn Cocktail: Fine Coffee The Maker:

Zade Womack, The Rest

331 S. Main, SLC 801-532-4452

ixing winter staples like coffee and bourbon is a fantastic idea, and Zade Womack at The Rest knows quite a bit about both (when he’s not creating cocktails, he is serving up coffee at Blue Copper Coffee Room). This coffee cocktail is a comforting, hot beverage that is sure to rid your winter worries. Created with Blue Copper coffee, bourbon, Bitters Lab Charred Cedar and Current bitters, and San Maria Italian Amaro, Damn Fine Coffee delivers a well-rounded, roasted flavor and is topped with housemade vanilla and bitters whipped cream, which adds just enough sweetness to put a silly grin on your mug.

52 Devour Utah • January/February 2016



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The Cocktail: Winter Cup The Maker:

Cherie Bartleson Trio Café

680 S. 900 East, SLC 801-533-8746


herie Bartleson at Trio Café Downtown is wonderfully creative with her cocktails. Like many of her craft cocktails, the Winter Cup is based on a classic (Pimm’s Cup), but with the addition of craft ingredients that she makes in-house.The Winter Cup combines rye, Pimm’s No. 1, apple brandy and luxurious housemade cider. This flavorful beverage incorporates gala and red-delicious apples, pears and ginger. Its tart pomegranate finish really sings. The Winter Cup is a bright, complex cocktail that smells incredible and tantilizes the taste buds.

54 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

Devour Utah • January/February 2016 55

The Cocktail: Jersey Winter The Maker: Bijan Ghiai Pallet Bistro

237 S. 400 West, SLC 801-935-4431


f you aren’t familiar with Bijan Ghiai’s bar program at Pallet, you should be. Bijan recently won the United States Bartenders’ Guild Utah Fall Cocktail Contest and is proving to be one of the city’s best and most creative drink slingers. Bijan’s Jersey Winter cocktail is perfectly balanced, soft, rounded and delicious. The beautiful and pulpy craft cocktail is a brandy-based toddy with depth. Pear and citrus flavors along with Boker’s bitters make the drink complex, yet approachable.Apple Brandy, Dry Curacao and Brillet Pear Liqueur give it an oaky, earthy finish— perfect to cap off a cold evening.

56 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

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Cooking: A Sense of

By Viet Pham, restaurateur, Food Network chef & food industry consultant


ay 2016 will mark my eighth year in Utah, with a little over seven of those years living in Salt Lake City. I’ve been cooking professionally now for about 10 years, which isn’t really very long. I started out like most young cooks, chasing the dream of being like Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Jacques Pépin and many other greats of the culinary world. In many ways, I’m still chasing that dream. In 2009, my business partner, Bowman Brown, and I opened up Forage restaurant with a Small Business Administration loan for $50K. I borrowed about the same amount from my parents. All in all, we opened up Forage with less than $120,000, which was amazing, considering that’s not a lot of capital to work with when opening a fine-dining restaurant. Early on at Forage, we had an idea of what we thought our cuisine would be. Since then, the cuisine has changed and evolved drastically. A large part of that is due to food and industry trends. Initially, we’d follow intently what the best chefs were doing and try to replicate their dishes while adding a little bit of our style and panache. Over time, this became a practice that worked, but one that eventually delivered very little personal satisfaction for me. As chefs and cooks, many of us are driven and fueled by ego. We cook to feed our egos and the voracious media with an appetite for “cool” and “cutting edge,” in hopes that it will launch us into stardom. Only lastly do we aim to satisfy our guests. This is faulty reasoning—something I’m beginning to realize as I continue to mature as a chef. As a cook, I’m constantly striving to evolve and progress. I see that being honest with myself and to my craft is far more important than offering guests food that’s ego-driven. Although, I suppose, I’m known mostly for creating intricate, complex dishes, over time, my cooking has become a lot more “simple.” My focus is on purity and honoring the best ingredients, rather than manipulating them into something that’s unrecognizable. I’m attempting to practice self-restraint by utilizing less than four ingredients on a plate, focusing on producing the deepest depth of flavor and learning to harmonize the dish’s components. Ultimately, I want to provide my diners with what they want. I don’t wish to create a place where diners are challenged to like my food. I feel that it’s condescending to have to tell people how and why they should eat, or to have an open mind—it’s really pretentious. So, I’m not going to try to push the boundaries or limitations of cuisine. I just want to provide good, honest food that people can perceive and relate to as comforting and delicious. As the great chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller said: “When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy. That is what cooking is about.” ❖ 58 Devour Utah • January/February 2016

Viet Pham

Devour Utah • January/February 2016 59



Reservations encouraged (435) 649-3536 • Dinner served nightly starting at 5:00 PM 60 Devour Utah • January/February 2016


Photo: Keith Bryce

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