Some people spend their whole lives chasing their dreams. For Matt Lake, his life path became clear at the young age of 11. His parents took over a general store and began a small deli catering business, and Matt quickly dove into the family business. Whether helping run an event, putting together deli trays, or interacting with customers, Matt fell in love with the food industry. And he fell hard. So hard, in fact, that at the ripe age of 18 he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America. And he’s been on the food path ever since.
The Utah Foodie has reached our one year anniversary, and to be honest, we’re a little blown away. It feels like yesterday when we sat down with our first guests from Whiskey Street and Forage, and we dove headfirst into the thriving and inspiring Utah food scene.
While we often focus on the entrepreneurial spirit and passion that these small business owners have, something that is not always obvious is their overflowing creativity. Whether it’s a unique take on a traditional dish, finding local partners that have the same vision, or even deciding on the look and color of a jam, a lot of energy is put into creating art in the form of food or beverages.
This creativity is especially apparent at Beehive Distilling, one of the first four distilleries in Utah. Founded by Chris Barlow, Erik Ostling, and Matt Aller, Beehive Distilling originally began as a fun idea that was discussed amongst these three friends. But once the idea was in Erik’s mind, he couldn’t let it go. What followed was research, research, and more research, and the realization that their idea could very much become a reality.
And a reality it became. Beehive Distilling opened their doors in January 2014, and quickly established themselves as a craft distillery that had two primary focuses: Make good gin, and make it look good. After 35-40 test batches, Jackrabbit Gin was created, and their popularity spread. Join us on The Utah Foodie as we sit down with Erik and Chris to discuss the history of distilling in Utah, and how gin uniquely stands out from other liquors. We’ll also dive into how their work as marketers, photographers and creatives influenced their approach to launching Beehive Distilling.
We also would like to say a special "thank you" to all of our listeners! This podcast has been a labor of love, and we're so thankful to have a community that is as excited about the Utah food scene as we are.
This episode was brought to you by:
Vive Juicery, a Utah-based cold-pressed juicery with three locations along the Wasatch Front.
In early 2015 Ally Curzon and her mom Jessica Curzon were driving through Salt Lake City when they were hit with a craving: they wanted a doughnut. While Utah has some fine doughnut options, none would work for the Curzon family because they are vegan -- and vegan doughnuts can be hard to come by.
It was then that a craving turned into a business idea. Ally and her mom drove home to share their new idea with Ally's 15-year-old sister, Leah, but were met with skepticism. Leah had seen her mom's last food project, a small chocolate truffle business, start with high hopes... but never get off the ground. So Leah Curzon issued her mom a challenge: "Mom, this can't be one of those things you don't follow through on."
So Jessica hit the kitchen with her daughters, working toward a perfect vegan doughnut. And when they felt they had the recipe dialed in, they rented a booth at a local farmer's market in town. They were received well, which led their doughnuts into Sugar House Coffee and a few other local coffee shops in town. With momentum, lots of passion, some newfound fans from their Farmer's Market presence, and their unique vegan doughnuts, Jessica Curzon put a new commercial kitchen on a credit card and went all in, rising to meet her daughter's challenge.
Today we're joined by Jessica Curzon, her 15-year-old daughter Leah Curzon, and Jessica's boyfriend and business partner Zak Farrington, to talk about their journey starting an all-vegan doughnut shop and their upcoming new location at 171 E Broadway in downtown Salt Lake City, where they'll open in just a few weeks.
Salt Lake City has a secret. It’s full of nerds. Tabletop games, cosplaying, cons, comics, geeky podcasts. Hell, we were even voted one of the nerdiest states in the country. The amount of accessibility to various geeky interests is growing, and what was once an underground and mocked culture has risen to the top of the pop culture pile. It’s now hip to be a nerd.
For Cori Hoekstra and Mike Tuiasoa, geekdom wasn’t a trend. It was a lifestyle. With strong roots in the Salt Lake City geek community, Cori and Mike were more than aware of the communities needs. With Cori’s background in coffee houses and restaurant management, and Mike’s desire to have ownership of a project, their shared dream of having freedom to create something on their own motivated them to look for opportunities. How could they tie their comic book and literature interests into a business? How could they provide an authentic experience that rang true to who they are, and to the community they are so proudly part of?
What began as a dream very quickly took shape into Watchtower Cafe, a coffee shop that provides an encompassing experience for all coffee shop customers, but also provides a space tailored for their nerdy and geeky guests looking for a space to gather. With high-quality coffee, delicious food, and a large, comfortable space to relax, Watchtower Cafe is more than meets the eye.
Join us for this week's entertaining and inspiring episode, as we dive into the short history of Watchtower Cafe, a unique coffee/hangout/event spot that brings a unique flavor to the growing Salt Lake City coffee scene.
Uinta Brewing Company opened their doors in 1993 with the sole focus on craft brewing – no pubs or bars, just outstanding beer. Salt Lake City wasn’t known as a brewing mecca, and previous breweries had all opened with a restaurant attached. To outsiders it seemed like co-founders Will Hamill and Dell Vance were taking a big risk. But they had an ace up their sleeve: they knew how to make really, really good beer.
What originally began as Great Basin Brewing took root in a rented out mechanical shop with three primary beers. Cutthroat, Golden Spike, and Kings Peak. These three “founding beers” helped Uinta grow throughout the local Salt Lake City and Utah market, and led to a slow and steady expansion.
In 2010, the craft brew market exploded. What was originally a hobby and passion for a small niche of the beer drinking market suddenly became a national obsession, and Uinta’s shadow loomed over the competition. They were in the craft brew market before such a market truly existed, and they had the skill, expertise, and consistency to show how craft beer was meant to be done. 23 years, 30 or so beers, and thousands of stores later, Uinta Brewing Company has grown to be the 38th largest craft brewing company in the country.
Will Hamill joins us on the podcast today to share the passionate and unique beginnings of Uinta Brewing Company. His love for the environment and flavorful brews have led to a sustainably run company that operates within strict Utah liquor laws with a swift and nimble creativity. Join us.
Patrick Crowley doesn’t have a typical start in the food industry. With a background in water conservation, a majority of Patrick’s professional career was dedicated to hydrology and analyzing water resources. This passion led to the discovery of a TED talk by Marcel Dicke titled “Why Not Eat Insects?” This talk ignited a thought in Patrick’s head that couldn’t be squashed. Was there a more sustainable way to get our protein?
The majority of our water consumption goes to agriculture. Whether it’s growing the crops to feed livestock, or water going to the livestock themselves, over 70% of the water we consume is put into food. As a water conservationist, Patrick of course saw a lot of room for improvement. And with Marcel’s TED Talk fresh on his mind, Patrick set out to experiment with a new food source: crickets.
After years of experimenting and researching, Patrick launched Chapul in 2012. With friends pitching in to develop delicious recipes, Chapul entered the market with some of the first ever energy bars composed solely of crickets. As you can imagine, reactions were mixed. After some initial hesitation, local grocers and consumers saw the profit (and flavor) of these cricket energy bars, and Chapul began to make an impression at the Downtown Farmer’s Market and in markets in Colorado, California, and Utah.
And then, in 2014, an opportunity of a lifetime appeared. Patrick and Chapul were selected to participate in Shark Tank, to pitch to some of the most famous angel investors in the world. With only a few years of experience under his belt, Patrick’s passion and Chapul’s delicious bars were a massive hit, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban became an investor.
Join us as we sit down with Patrick and learn about the incredible journey Chapul has undergone, and how their mission to create a sustainable alternative to our agricultural system has a very bright, and flavorful, future.
If you were to ask an out-of-state visitor what they know about Salt Lake City, they typically default to a few stock answers. Mormonism, Jello, and snow. What many are surprised to learn about is the large and vibrant Greek community that fills the area with art, culture, and delicious food. One such restaurant is Manoli's, a new Greek restaurant that is quickly changing the game for finer Greek cuisine.
You could almost say that Manoli Katsanevas was destined to be a restaurant owner. Growing up he washed and bussed tables at Crown Burgers, the restaurant his family owns and operates that is a staple in the Salt Lake City skyline. After attending culinary school and working at Cafe Niche and Fresco, the idea of creating something on his own began to tickle at Manoli's mind.
Along with his wife Katrina Cutrubus, Manoli started Manoli's Catering. Manoli and Katrina challenged themselves with diving into a variety of cuisines, whether it was casual tailgate food or high-end, plated meals. And while they constantly created and innovated, they stuck true to a few key principles. Fresh ingredients, simple techniques, with a focus on bringing flavor and freshness to the forefront.
These principles guided them, and eventually manifested into Manoli's, a Greek Small Plate Restaurant that opened in September of 2015. Going to their Greek roots, Manoli's offers a high-end Greek dining experience that truly highlights the unique Greek culture one finds in Salt Lake City. With an emphasis on community, sharing, freshness and simplicity, Manoli's brings a much needed Greek dining experience to the area.
Join us as we learn about the journey Manoli and Katrina have taken, and the inspiration and love that went into developing this new neighborhood staple.
When life gives you an opportunity, you have two choices. Either ignore it, or go all in. For Pat Ford, life's opportunity came in the form of a mid-life crisis. After a successful career as a real estate developer, the energy and excitement that came from his job began to disappear. The constant pressure of deadlines, demanding bosses and commuting kept adding up, and Pat was in need of a change.
After words of encouragement from his brother-in-law, Tim Welsh, Pat took the plunge and left his job. With only family and self-funding to support their mission, Pat and Tim dove into the world of artisanal cheese making. After years of hard-work, creativity, and a little risk taking, what arose was Beehive Cheese Co. Crafted in Northern Utah, Beehive Cheese Co sources all local ingredients to create their creamy and unique cheeses. With an emphasis on high-quality and natural ingredients, every step of the cheese making process is thoughtfully planned to bring the local flavor to the forefront.
While Pat and Tim made zero income for the first two years of Beehive Cheese Co's existence, the awards and raving customer reviews were proof enough that they had found what they were meant to do. What followed were numerous awards, state-wide distribution, and a growing company that continues to create innovative and delicious artisan cheese.
Join us as we sit down with Pat Ford, and get an in-depth look into what has become Beehive Cheese Co. Full of inspiration and life-lessons, all of us can find a piece of ourselves in this story.
Omar Abou-Ismail doesn't have your typical restaurant owner story. Originally born in Lebanon, Omar and his family traveled and lived throughout West Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Middle East, and eventually settled in Utah. After studying geophysics and mechanical engineering at the University of Utah, he began working with the U.S. Navy as a geophysicist. And then, in 2005, he opened Rawtopia. You could say it was a bit of a leap in career.
What started as a curiosity about the raw food movement became a passion, and his love for sustainability and care for the earth only fueled the flames. After he switched to a raw food diet, Omar began to feel more healthy, happy, and energetic. This new-found life style change felt akin to a spiritual awakening, and Omar wanted to share this feeling with the Salt Lake City community.
Rawtopia opened in Sugar House in 2005, and has become a staple in Salt Lake. Along with providing high-quality, healthy food, it also serves as an educational resource for people who are unfamiliar with what the raw food diet entails. Overcoming adversity, trials, and tribulations, Rawtopia has also celebrated many victories.
Join us as we sit down with Omar Abou-Ismail, and dive into his fascinating story, and all the lessons and changes that led to the creation of Rawtopia. We also learn what it means to eat raw food, and how the physical, mental, and sometimes spiritual benefits of a healthy and raw diet.