Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tom Call Appointed as New Grand America Chef de Cuisine

          Grand America Hotels & Resorts CEO Bruce Fery announced the appointment of chef  Tom Call as chef de cuisine for the Grand America Hotel, the collection’s flagship property and Salt Lake City’s only AAA five diamond hotel.
“We are extremely pleased to welcome Chef Call,” said Phillip Yates, Executive Chef at the Grand America.  “He is a classically trained chef with imagination, passion and experience across many different cuisines, and thus a perfect fit for our culinary team.”
A native of California’s gold country, Call graduated from California Culinary Academy and interned in Lucca, Italy, where he fine-tuned his European cuisine skills and learned first-hand how to infuse each dining experience with a spirit of “la bella vita.”  
Call worked for over a decade in San Francisco's finest Michelin-starred restaurants. He served as saucier at Campton Place, and sous chef for Coi, Aqua, One Market and the San Francisco Hotel Monaco. 
Most recently, Call was chef for Trio Restaurant Group in Salt Lake City.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Utah Woman Turned Down Sunday Cook-Off Worth $50,000

Would you turn down a chance to win $50,000 because the competition was held on a Sunday?
That was the decision facing Carmell Child, a Mormon mother from Ferron, Utah.  My column in the Deseret News talks about her choice to walk away from the finals of the World Food Championships in Las Vegas.

"And because I teach my children that the Sabbath is a sacred day, I opted out of the Sunday competition for the $50,000," said Childs, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "On Sunday morning, we packed up our bags and drove home to Ferron. I'll admit it wasn't easy at all, but I believe that with great sacrifice comes great blessings."
This is the same World Food Championships, held at Caesar's Palace Nov. 1-4, where Salt Lake City's Lucky 13 Bar and Grill won the World Burger Championship. 
After I wrote about Lucky 13's win in a previous column , I received an email from one of Childs' friends letting me know that Childs was the $10,000 winner of the World Recipe Championship. (Childs isn't one to toot her own horn.)
A first-time event at Caesar's Palace, the World Food Championships consisted of seven different categories — burger, barbecue, chili, sandwich, chef, side-dish and recipe. The winner of each contest received $10,000.
In the "Final Table" round, all the champions from the seven different contests then competed for the grand champion prize of $50,000. All except Childs, that is.
Childs is a home cook who has already won a few recipe contests. Her Cherry Chicken Bacon Burger won a $20,000 family reunion in Smucker's Spreading Family Traditions Recipe and Essay Contest. She also won Del Monte's Crown the Cook recipe contest with her Mandarin Tin-Can Tower Cake last summer.
Her previous wins qualified her to compete in three different categories of the World Food Championships, but Childs could pick only one. Del Monte offered to sponsor her in the recipe category, paying the entry fee and money for ingredients. 
"Initially I hadn't realized that all category champions would then be invited to compete at the final table on Sunday, but I never in my wildest dreams thought I would make it that far," Childs said. "My goal was to make the top 10 and come home with at least $1,000. It was a battle of the average Joes versus the pros. There were so many professional chefs and restaurant owners in my category that I thought it would be a great achievement to make it even that far!"
She won Round One with White Chocolate Apricot Sunrise pastries, featuring Del Monte apricots. (The WFC is compiling a cookbook of all the winning recipes, so she is unable to share it in my column.)
The top 10 finalists battled it out for title of Recipe Champion, she had to cook something for a "tapas" theme. She made Sweet Cherry Baby Bellas — stuffed baby bell peppers with a mixture of bacon, onions, cream cheese, cherries and peppers.
To her surprise, she won the World Recipe Champion title and $10,000. This gave her a berth in Sunday's "Final Table."
But Child had already decided that, "if by some crazy chance I found myself in the position to compete for the $50,000 on Sunday, I would have to turn it down," she said. "I've always been taught by my parents to keep the Sabbath day holy, and that by doing so I will be blessed. I see my big win as the blessing for making this decision previously."
When she informed the World Food Championships staff, "The WFC asked me to sleep on my decision before passing up such an amazing opportunity. They were very respectful of my decision, and they sent a Canadian BBQ team in my place to compete, because they had the second highest score in the recipe category."
The $50,000 grand championship was won by Robert Butler, chef at The Paris Las Vegas, and his sous chef, Lowell McCain, who had won the Best Sandwich category.
But Childs left with her World Recipe Champion trophy, a $10,000 check and a lot of good memories.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Airport Now Has Cafe Rio, Market Street and Other Local Flavors

Ribbon cutting at Salt Lake International Airport for local restaurants. 

Salt Lake City International Airport's new restaurants offer some welcome choices for passengers,  especially since seven of them are clones of popular Salt Lake eateries such as Market Street Grill, Cafe Rio, and Greek Souvlaki.
 In the "good old days" of air travel, when you didn't have to take off half your clothing before catching a flight, quality food was scant in airport terminals.  Airlines served hot in-flight meals to passengers during their flights, even in economy seating. So perhaps there wasn't a lot of business for restaurants in the airport terminals. But if you were ever waiting for a connecting flight, or had a flight delayed, you were stuck with something like a rubbery hot dog or grilled cheese sandwich for maybe $10. 
But times have changed. In the '90s, most airlines got out of the dining business (except for first-class passengers or international flights). You're lucky to get a few packs of pretzels or peanuts during a five-hour flight. And, with the security checks and waits for connections,  people are spending more time sitting in airports.  And they're often hungry.
Market Street Grill took over the space where Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill used to be. It now has the same decor and ambience of the downtown restaurant. Although it is run by the HMSHost concessionaire, the recipes and cooking techniques came from Gastronomy, Inc., Market Street's parent company.  The staff serves the fresh seafood that locals have enjoyed for more than 30 years. HMS Host staffers have been training at the downtown Market Street Grill, said Judy Cullen, Gastronomy's Communications Director.
Market Street Fresh Fish Special of Cedar Planked Salmon.

Cullen said it's good exposure for local restaurants, because it gives people a chance to have the local experience, and perhaps when they come back to Salt Lake City they will seek out one of the Market Street restaurants. 
Cafe Rio and Greek Souvlaki are located near the Market Street Grill, between Concourse C and D.

Vivace, a quick-serve version of the acclaimed Cucina Toscana, is another new airport eatery.  Owner Ken Millo told me that originally he was going to name the new restaurant Veloce. But a New York City-based bar called Bar Veloce is fiercely protective of the name and Millo didn't want to get into a legal battle. 
Vivace's new space at the Salt Lake International Airport.
 High West Distillery and Saloon of Park City also opened a restaurant and saloon in Terminal E of the airport. High West will also be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, features a wide selection of High West's favorite spirits and cocktails. The food menu ties closely to High West's Park City location, with a variety of small plates, sandwiches, All Darn Day Saloon Bites and, for the morning fliers, healthy and delicious Crack O' Dawn Victuals.
Other new dining venues include Salt Lake City Pizza & Pasta, Mill Creek Coffee Roasters,  Auntie Anne’s, Smashburger, Great Wraps, Fresh Market On The Go, French Meadow Bakery & Café and Starbucks. For several years the airport has had a version of Squatter's, serving the beer and dishes from the downtown Salt Lake Squatter's pub.  Squatter's is also involved in the airport's recently opened Vino Volo Ale House. 
Many airports around the country are including local flavors in their terminals. A few years ago, when I was stranded in the Atlanta airport when my flight was cancelled, I consoled myself with dinner at Paschal's. I found out it's a well-known Atlanta restaurant with an outlet at the airport. 
If you're waiting for a connecting flight, or you want to grab something to eat on the plane,  you have a lot more interesting options now.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cafe Rio Gift Card Special

On Black Friday (day after Thankgiving) Cafe Rio is offering a free meal card for every $25 spent on its gift cards that day. 

Also Marie Callender's offers a $5 gift card with every $25 gift card purchased.  I'll be listing more gift card deals as I hear about them during the holiday season.

If you're buying gift cards for Christmas presents, you might as well go for a gift that gives you back something as well! 

World's Best Burger: Utah's Lucky 13

Salt Lake City's Lucky 13 Bar and Grill won the World Burger Championship, held in Las Vegas Nov. 1-4. 
A first-time event at Caesar's Palace, the World Food Championships consisted of seven different contests — burger, barbecue, chili, sandwich, chef, side-dish and recipe. Lucky 13's owners Jason Stucki, Rob Dutton and Ron Lay won the burger category with a Spicy Candied Bacon Cajun Burger. It was one they had never made before.
"We're known for our fresh, never-frozen beef, and our house-smoked bacon, and that got us into the top 10," Stucki said in a telephone interview. "But in the finals, we weren't allowed to use the ingredients we brought with us, in order to level the playing field."
Each team drew out a "flavor inspiration," and Lucky 13 ended up with Cajun.
The trio had to create a burger based on ingredients they were given, including the sponsoring product, A-1 Sauce. They topped their blackened burger with caramelized bacon and roasted red pepper aioli. The won the $10,000 prize after garnering the highest score from the judges, who were prominent chefs and food writers.
"I recognized some of them from food TV shows," Stucki said. "We were blown away when they announced us as the winner."
In the "Final Table" round, all the champions from the seven different contests were eligible for the grand champion prize of $50,000. Lucky 13 came in second place, earning an extra $10,000. The grand champion was Robert Butler, chef at The Paris Las Vegas, and his sous chef, Lowell McCain, who had won the Best Sandwich category.
Stucki said the winning Cajun-flavored burger is likely to end up on the menu, "But we're not going to rush it out there. We want to make sure we can execute it really well so it can stand up to the demand. It's really labor- and time-intensive to make."
Lucky 13 is located at 135 W. 1300 South and has been in business just over three years.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Leslie Fiet of Mini's Cupcakes Wins "Cupcake Wars"

Leslie Fiet waits during filming of "Cupcake Wars."

 Leslie Fiet of Mini's Cupcakes in Salt Lake City, and her assistant Stephanie Deer won an episode of "Cupcake Wars" tonight.  Fiet received $10,000 and the opportunity to serve her cheerleader-themed cupcakes at a celebration for the country's best cheerleaders. 
"There's a pep rally going on with this plate," one of the approving judges told her after tasting her cupcakes.
 "It's really super exciting to even be asked to be on the show," said Fiet in an email last week from Paris, where she was taking culinary classes.
When asked what she learned from the competition, she wrote, "First, I am good at what I do regardless of personal tastes. That being said, I'm always really amazed that contestants on the show use fake ingredients. Like a jar of pre-made caramel or lemon curd and shortening in their frosting!  I'm super proud that as a bakery we have taken the stance of never using a cake mix or artificial flavorings in our cupcakes. Not on the show and not at home. Being a true foodie and experimental baker helped me on 'Cupcake Wars,' regardless of the outcome."
She said she was proud of Stephanie Deer, her best friend who served as her assistant. "It took a lot of courage for a non-baker to go on the show, and for me to rely on myself for the success or failure of my choices, and to totally trust Steph on the decorations. It was a lot of pressure on her."
Utah bakers are gaining a reputation for "Cupcake Wars." Earlier this year Meagan Faulkner-Brown of The Sweet Tooth Fairy Bakery won a competition with a "Rock of Ages" theme, and Janell Brown of One Sweet Slice won with cupcakes sporting a "Star Wars" theme.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Honeybaked Gift Certificate Winner

HoneyBaked Ham is letting me give away a $25 gift card so that a lucky reader can try some of its new sandwiches, or get themselves a holiday ham or turkey.  Readers could leave me a comment on the blog post.  Just a few minutes ago, I put all the names of the commenters in a collander (seems more appropriate for a food blog).  The winner is JANEY.  

I also drew out a winner to receive one free meal card from HoneyBaked Ham, as a little bonus. The winner was UNKNOWN.  

So, Janey and Unknown, please email me at with your snail mail address. I'll try to get the cards in the mail as soon as I hear from you! 

Sam's Club Holiday Sampling

One of the fun things about shopping at a price club is all the little samples you can taste-test as you move from aisle to aisle. 
Next weekend, Sam's Clubs across the state, including Provo (1313 S. University Ave.) and Salt Lake City (1905 S. 300 W.) will be kicking off the season with the 10th annual Holiday Taste of Sam’s Club event. Scheduled for November 16-18, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day, you can sample your way through some holiday foods, including 
-    Gourmet-to-go cookies, Artisan Fresh pies and pre-sliced cheesecakes from the Cheesecake Factory--these both make extra special holiday desserts and tasteful hostess gifts.
·     Ready-made appetizers from chicken & bacon bruschetta to bacon-wrapped shrimp. These make last-minute entertaining a breeze...just pop in the oven and welcome guests with a delicious snack.
·       Fresh meats – from hickory-smoked and spiral-sliced ham to savory sirloin and leg of lamb—these are must-have crowd-pleasers, spot on as a main course and delectable as leftovers.

“Tastes ‘n’ Tips” associates also will be on hand to recommend recipes and beverage pairings.

Non-Sam's Club-members are absolutely invited to this event. They just stop by the member services desk for a one-day pass for the festivities.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Free Veterans Day Meals

A lot of eateries are thanking veterans by offering free meals or discounts on Veterans Day (Sunday, Nov. 11) or the following day, Nov. 12.
Last year I took my husband, Kim Phillips, out for the free Veterans Day lunch at Applebee's in Bountiful.  I was curious as to what the experience was like, because a lot of times those "free meal deals" are super-crowded and not worth the hassle.  But, we had a good time -- maybe because we went at around 3:30 in the afternoon when it wasn't likely to be busy.
I looked up my post about it, and I was kind of touched by emotion when I mentioned that I was looking forward to taking my dad, Jay Sagers, out to a Veterans Day meal on Veterans Day in 2012. He was a World War II vet.  Unfortunately, my dad passed away on Oct. 11, a month shy of Veterans Day.  We'll be thinking of him. 
I don't know what the experience is like at other restaurants offering Veteran's Day dining, but I suspect you would do well to avoid "rush hours," especially near a military installation such as Hill Air Force Base.

I've compiled a list of free meals and discounts being offered, from press releases, a website, and phone calls to local restaurants. Things to remember:
- In some cases, the decision to participate is up to the individual franchise owner, so you should call ahead or check the company website to verify that the outlet in your particular location is participating and what type of identification is required.
- Required military identification or proof of service may vary. This could include a military I.D. card (active/reserve/retired), current leave and earnings statement, drivers license with veteran designation, photograph in uniform, a veterans organization card such as the American Legion or VFW, or discharge paperwork. Or wear your uniform if your branch of service permits this
- Some of the free meals are offered only to veterans but most include active duty military.
 - Tips are not included in the special offers, so I would tip on what the free meal would have cost you. 
 - Check the dates; since Veterans Day falls on a Sunday, some places are offering their celebration on Monday.
Red Robin: A free Red's Tavern Double burger on Nov. 11 for veterans and active duty military.
Krispy Kreme: A free doughnut on Nov. 11 to active military, retirees and veterans.
Little Caesars Pizza: A free Crazy Bread for veterans and active military at participating stores on Nov. 12.
Sizzler: A free entrée with the purchase of another entrée of equal or lesser value on Nov. 11 for veterans and active military.
Texas Roadhouse: A free lunch chosen from ten different entrees on Nov. 11 for active, retired or former U.S. military.
T.G.I. Friday’s : A free lunch on Nov 12, for all U.S. military personnel and veterans.
The Olive Garden: A free entree from a special menu on Nov. 11 for veterans and active duty military.
7-Eleven: A free small Slurpee on Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. for veterans and active duty military.
Lone Star Steakhouse, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. Free appetizer for veterans and active duty military.
Outback Steakhouse: A free Bloomin’ Onion and a Coca-cola product from Nov. 7-11, available to active duty veterans and military personnel
Applebee’s: A free meal chosen from a selected menu on Nov. 11 for veterans and active military
Chili’s: A free meal from a selected menu, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Nov. 11 for veterans and active military.
Denny’s: Free all-you-can-eat pancakes from 6 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12 for all active military and veterans.
Famous Dave’s: A free meal from a selected menu on Nov. 11 for veterans
Golden Corral:  A free meal on Nov. 12 for any person who has ever served in the United States Military
California Pizza Kitchen: A free individual pizza and non-alcoholic drink on Nov. 11 and Nov. 12, for all veterans and active military.
Einstein's Bagels: A free classic or signature bagel to veterans on Nov. 11.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

HoneyBaked Gift Card Giveaway

HoneyBaked Ham is letting me give away a $25 gift card so that a lucky reader can try some of its new sandwiches, or get themselves a holiday ham or turkey. 

The company is getting ready for the holiday season with pop-up (temporary) locations at the Dick's Markets in Centerville and Bountiful, and the Fresh Markets in Riverton, Park City, American Fork and Draper. 

On November 5, two new holiday sandwiches were introduced at HoneyBaked stores and cafés. 

Cranberry Turkey on Croissant: Premium all white meat roasted turkey with cranberry walnut chutney and whipped cream cheese spread, topped with lettuce and tomato on a flaky croissant.

Turkey Cranberry Club: Premium all white meat roasted turkey topped with Sweet Glaze bacon, cranberry walnut chutney, blue cheese crumbles, lettuce, tomato and  mayo,  on sliced multigrain bread.

Here's how to win the $25 gift certificate:  Leave me a comment on this blog post. Identify yourself with at least your first name.  On Friday I'm going to put all the commenter's names in a bowl, and I'll announce the winner on this blog and on my Facebook page. You will need to email me at with your mailing address so I can send you the card. 

So, comment away! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Watched Pots That Never Boiled --My Cooking Show Adventure

My turn onstage.
On Saturday, I was one of the presenters for The Really Big Cooking Show at Thanksgiving Point. It was sponsored by Covenant Communications, the publisher of my book, "Soup's On!"  There was a good turnout -- maybe 400-500 people. 

I cooked two soups during my presentation -- Turkey Pot Pie Soup and Loaded Potato Soup. Or, at least I tried to cook them. We had a two-burner electric hotplate to use for cooking.  We turned it on beforehand and it seemed to be OK. But when I turned both burners to "high," I think it caused them to short out, or lose power.  So, I was stirring away, waiting for my ingredients to start cooking and the broth to start bubbling.  The adage, "A watched pot never boils" was pretty true for me.

Karen Petersen of "365 Days of Slow Cooking"
I filled a few of those minutes by telling the audience about meeting Emeril and how excited I was that he called me by name -- until I looked down and saw that he was just reading my name tag.  And how Martha Stewart took photos of the audience on her show during the Pillsbury Bake-Off. I finally did an SOS shout-out to Kelly Smurthwaite Schumaker (the publicist who organized the event).  She came out with another hot plate to use. But I had used up my allotted time, so I said, "Sorry, folks, I can't finish cooking my soup!" and that was it.

Liz Edmunds, aka "The Food Nanny" 
Ironic that my recipes are so quick and easy to make, yet I wasn't able to finish them for the audience.
My son, Eric, was there, and he told me I did OK in talking with the audience and keeping them entertained. He's a theater/film major, and all the directors and coaches have told him over the years that you should never apologize if something doesn't go right, even if it's your fault. Interestingly enough, Julia Child wrote the same thing about food in her book, "My Life In France."  She said if you keep apologizing for your cooking, it will seem worse than it really is by calling attention to it.  But I can't help but feel a little sorry for how the event turned out.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rosemary Potato Corn Chowder on KUTV News

Today I was on the KUTV News at noon, showing Mary Nickles and Ron Bird how to cook Rosemary Potato Corn Chowder.  When I poured in the bacon bits, I dropped the little blue keep-fresh packet in the soup, but Mary helped me fish it out!  A few years ago she & I were both judges at the World Championship Dutch Oven Cook-Off, and I realized then that she's very knowledgable about cooking.

Here's the clip:

Here's the recipe, from my cookbook, "Soup's On!"

Rosemary Potato & Corn 

2 14-oz. cans chicken broth (or 4 chicken bouillon cubes and 1 3/4 C. water)

1 28-oz. pkg. O¹Brien-style diced hash brown potatoes
1 3-oz. pkg. shelf-stable bacon bits (or about 3/4 C. of cooked, chopped bacon or 1 C. finely diced ham)
1 15-oz. can corn, drained
2 tsp. dried rosemary or 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 C. water
1 1/2 C. half-and-half, fat-free halfand-half, or milk
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Optional garnishes: grated cheddar cheese, bacon bits, rosemary Sprigs

1.) Place chicken broth, potatoes, and bacon in a large pot over high heat.
2.) When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to keep soup gently boiling, about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add corn and rosemary.
3.) Mix cornstarch and water to a smooth paste. Stir cornstarch mixture into gently boiling soup and continue stirring until soup thickens.
4.) Turn off heat and stir in milk or half-and-half and pepper, until mixture is well blended and soup rethickens.
5.) Taste soup and adjust seasonings as desired. Ladle into serving bowls; garnish each with a tsp. of shredded cheddar, bacon pieces, or a rosemary sprig.

Slow cooker directions: 
Place all ingredients except cornstarch and 1/4 C of water in a slow cooker on high for 3¬4 hours; on low for 5¬6 hours. Mix cornstarch and water into a smooth paste and stir into soup. Turn soup to high and leave lid off, stirring occasionally, for 20¬30 minutes, until soup thickens.

*Makes six servings.