Last night Salt Lake Magazine handed out its 12th yearly bunch of Dining Awards --- to some of the hardest working people in the restaurant business. Stellar gathering of chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers (sometimes all wrapped up in one amazing person), food suppliers, and yes…writers. Including yours truly and Ted Scheffler. We’ve both served on the judge’s panel in years past.
This was my fourth or ? time. I’ve lost count. Never simple, but always fun to brainstorm the list of nominees, then divide and conquer, venturing out to places we haven’t tried, lobbying for favorites and trying to come to some sort of agreement. SL Mag food editor Mary Malouf has the final word, and that’s OK with me. Sometimes it’s just impossible to choose. (This year, with a wealth of new restaurants out there, it was a WHOLE lot more fun that last year.)
After a big, long cocktail party in the Utah Museum of Fine Arts main gallery, off to the auditorium for awards. Despite the unfortunate fact that the Dining Awards issue of SL Mag was inadvertently released a day early and many winners got an early peek, everyone was gracious, and some…oh so...loquacious.
A few highlights: Scott Evans at Pago for “Best Wine List.” Yep, it’s small, (he compared his $5,000 cellar to Spruce’s $150,000 cellar) but terrific. Carefully curated, with plenty of boutique wines by the glass. Nathan Powers and Bambara, best chef and best restaurant SLC. Right on. Nathan is a pure pro and the restaurant is humming along at its best. Finally Log Haven has been released from the log jam of winning “best ambiance” every year. With Dave Jones back in the kitchen, it took a well-deserved “best American fine dining.” Green Fork Sustainability to Hell’s Backbone Grill and “Hall of Fame” for Takashi. No time to type out the complete list but it should be posted at Salt Lake Magazine any time now.
Finally, not that anyone (other than me) really cares, but despite what my judge’s panel bio in this issue of the magazine says, I am most definitely not a “publicist.” True, I know how to do it because eons ago I worked for a major west cost pr agency. Hated it. Hated it. And true, I get really frustrated when it’s done poorly... so in a pinch, I have stepped up to do publicity once or twice in my 20-something –year writing career. But I’m definitely a writer, not a publicist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.