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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Best Restaurants In Utah: Salt Lake Magazine's Dining Awards
The winners of Salt Lake Magazine's Dining Awards celebrated the fact that they survived, and even thrived, during the past few lean financial years.
"I think we should give ourselves a huge round of applause for being in business right now," said Sam Neves of The Wild Grape Bistro in his acceptance speech for "Best Mixologist. Wild Grape was one of several winning restaurants that opened in 2008, just as the economy was tanking.
Several others echoed his sentiments, including Bowman Brown and Viet Pham of Forage, who were named "Best Chefs."
"Unbeknownst to most people, we were two college dropouts sitting on our porch two years ago with no money, and pretty much at zero," said Brown. "But we stuck with it."
This year the Brown and Pham were regional winners of Food & Wine Magazine's Best New Chefs Award, and are currently nominated for a James Beard Foundation award. Forage specializes in local, organic ingredients, and serves one fixed-price menu each night. The menu changes daily.
The annual dining awards, organized by Salt Lake Magazine's food and dining editor Mary Malouf, are considered the Oscars night for the local dining scene. A good share of this year's winners have only been in business a few years, such as Copper Onion, J. Wong's Bistro, Frida Bistro, and Pago. But the event also honored veteran restaurateurs, such as Lifetime Achievement Award winner Karen Olson. Her restaurant, Metropolitan had a stellar 15-year run in downtown Salt Lake City before closing last August. Olson was credited with raising the bar for Utah dining and spearheading what has become the annual Downtown Dine O'Round.
"The baton is passed," said Olson. "I will be here in a decade and a half after you put in your 15 years, and we can toast to you as well."
Best Restaurant in Salt Lake City (as well as best Italian restaurant) went to Fresco Italian Cafe, which has won numerous awards in the past.
Amber Billingsley of Vinto was named best pastry chef. Billingsley, who has worked her sweet-tooth magic in a number of Utah restaurants said, "The main reason I am standing here is because of all the chefs I have worked with in the past who taught and inspired me."
Here's the list of award-winners :
Best Chef: Viet Pham and Bowman Brown, Forage (370 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City)