The PBS travel food show, Moveable Feast came to Utah to film two of its 10th-season episodes and to set up its iconic “Feasts” at two (also iconic) dining spaces—Log Haven and Park City Mountain Resort’s Lookout Cabin. Moveable Feast combines travel with an emphasis on cooking and an aggressive focus on finding local and honest food purveyors and chefs in each city they visit. The crew, fronted by wisecracking host Alex Thomopoulos, visits purveyors and restaurants and invites chefs to shoot a collection of cooking demonstrations. Its signature is a breathtaking aerial shot of “The Feast,” a grand table filled with the local chefs, purveyors they’ve met and local food lovers. Yes, it’s a BIG production.
In Utah, Alex and the crew tapped Salt Lake City restaurant Chefs Viet Pham (Pretty Bird), Dave Jones (Log Haven) and Lavanya Mahate (Saffron Valley) to showcase their culinary techniques for the show’s cooking demonstrations. They also featured ingredients from local purveyors like James Fowler (Sugar House Distillery), Wonderland Mushrooms Company, the market Bombay Foods and the International Rescue Committee’s refugee farming program New Roots SLC at Wheeler Farm, among others. At each location, several days are spent shooting setting the grand table on the final night. For the local chefs and purveyors, it’s a chance to share what’s cool about Utah on a national stage.
“When the producers first called, we were skeptical,” says Log Haven’s event coordinator Faith Scheffler. “We’ve had film crews here before and they just take the place over to use as a set. But when we learned more about the show, we jumped at the chance. This was about Log Haven and celebrating Utah’s food culture.”
During the shoot at Log Haven, we spoke with Thomopoulos about the show, which she described as “gentle” in contrast to many aggressive, competitive food shows. (Less Kitchen Nightmares and more “friendly Bourdain.”)
“We meet the people feeding their communities,” she says. “The people who are doing it right. I like to say, they’re doing it with both intention and attention. Everywhere I visit, I learn something and walk away with something new.”
In Utah, for example, Chef Viet Pham led the crew to New Roots SLC, a program by the IRC (one of two agencies that resettle international refugees here in Utah). It teaches refugees who farmed in the country they were forced to flee Utah farming techniques and helps them find markets and co-ops to sell their produce.
“I was surprised at how many refugees are welcomed in Utah,” Thomopoulos says. “People here receive them with open arms. These are people who are in search of a better life and getting to meet the New Roots Farmers was an example of what I love about this show. We get to share these stories.”
Thomopoulos, however, is no stranger to Utah. When she was in college she was roommates with Bill Coker and Lucy Cardenas, owners of beloved Salt Lake restaurant Red Iguana, who were guests at the moveable feast film in at Log Haven.
“The first thing I did when I landed was go to Red Iguana,” she says. “Lucy and Bill are like family to me.”
Locals in the Spotlight
The two Moveable Feast episodes filmed in Utah featured many local purveyors, chefs and products.
•Log Haven and Chef David Jones
•Chef Viet Pham of Pretty Bird
•Chef Lavanya Mahate, Founder of Rise Culinary Institute
•Park City Mountain Resort’s Lookout Cabin and
Chefs Alex Malmborg and Zeke Wray
•Loulia Greek Olive Oil Company and the
Park City Farmers Market
•Grace and Milan Bronchella owners of Wonderlands Mushrooms
•James Fowler, owner and distiller at Sugar House Distillery
•Cheesemaker Fernando Chavez-Sandoval of
Gold Creek Farms, Woodland, Utah
•Sierra Govett from New Roots Community Farm
•Pratap Singh from Bombay Foods
Ready For My Close Up? Not.
The day after the first night “Feast” at Log Haven, which I attended as a guest, I received a frantic call from show producers Tiffany Thompson and Kat Kingsley. “Alex is sick,” Thompson says. “Would you be willing to be a backup host?”
Wait. What? I mean. Why not? So the morning of the shoot at Park City Mountain Resort, I took the Orange Bubble Express up to Lookout Cabin to be a television host. As it turns out, host Alex Thomopoulos, recovered from a bout of altitude sickness and I was off the hook. Honestly, I had no idea how I would have done that. Basically, it was a huge relief.
But the crew did have a job for me after all. I helped Thomopoulos (and by helped, I mean did what she told me to do) during a cooking demonstration featuring salmon glazed with Sugar House Distillery’s Bourbon and a melon salad made with Loulia Greek Olive Oil and cheese from Gold Creek Farms that was served at the Feast. Meanwhile, I prattled on about Park City and Salt Lake City history and whatnot. How much of this ended up on the cutting room floor will be determined when the show airs in December.
How to Watch
The 10th Anniversary season of Moveable Feast is underway. The Salt Lake City episode with Log Haven is scheduled to broadcast on Nov. 18 and the Park City episode featuring Lookout Cabin at Park City Mountain Resort will air on Dec. 16, as the season finale. Check listings at PBS Utah. The show is also available streaming on Apple TV and for PBS Passport members. pbsutah.org, pbs.org
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