Every year Salt Lake magazine hands out its Dining Awards to standouts in Utah’s dining scene. This year we decided that we wouldn’t decide. Instead, we asked the top names in the city’s food and beverage biz to tell us who they think are the top chefs and restaurants. We discovered a whole lotta love. See, the players in Utah’s dining scene are fighting a lot. They’re fighting Byzantine liquor law and chain competition paired with stubbornly unadventurous Utah palates (more on that in a minute) that opts for quantity over quality. (“The food’s terrible but the portions are amazing!”)
All of this and a bloody pandemic.
But they are not fighting each other.
The nominators in our Chef’s Choice edition of the Salt Lake Magazine Dining Awards each graciously and enthusiastically pointed out one of their peers (technically competitors) for recognition, without hesitation. Because, as Andrew Fuller of Oquirrh Restaurant opined, “I’ll just say it, Utah still has this stigma that nothing is going on in the food scene and the only thing to eat is Café Rio. And that is not the case. We are all fighting together to prove that wrong.”
To a person, each one of the nominators and nominees we talked to create this year’s Dining Awards echoed Fuller’s acknowledgment of this lingering, outdated vision of Utah dining. There is a solidarity among Utah’s food stars who, frankly, have a chip on their shoulders.
“People who travel a lot always tell us,” Fuller continued. “Oquirrh could be in New York or Chicago or this or that place. It’s kind of a back-handed compliment.”
We have our own thing. We’ve had it for a long time and it keeps getting better and more diverse. So, we’ll keep beating that drum. These chefs deserve your dollars, your time and your curiosity. And, we once again hope our attention will help you discover the greatness in your own backyard.