Comfort, it turns out, is not relative, at least with food. No matter the cuisine or the culture that any given dish springs from, it will contain one neurological common denominator, buried in the primal place in our brains: Nostalgia
In search of Salt Lake’s best comfort food, we asked six restaurateurs and chefs what comfort food means to them. Up first: the Southern-inspired, brunch-driven eatery Pig & A Jelly Jar.
The People: Amy and Vivi Wanderley-Britt
The Meal: Chicken and Waffles, Biscuits and Gravy
Amy Wanderley-Britt will tell you that she’s from the South but that she’s genuinely from, well, everywhere and the menu at Pig & A Jelly Jar reflects both mindsets.
“I call our food ‘southern-inspired,’ but it’s really a reflection of everywhere I’ve been,” she says. And, most importantly, the food her team serves “is fundamentally inspired by everyone I’ve ever met.”
As her name implies, Wanderley-Britt is a true wanderer and, as she runs down items on The Pig’s menu, she’s telling stories about people—friends around a table, the guides who cooked for her on the Colorado River, a transgendered Navajo she met on a lonely desert highway.
“I may not even have a person’s name in my memory,” she says. “But I can easily recall the food and the moment we shared. It’s all experiences with individuals adding up to a menu.”
So while, yes, the food she enjoyed around Meema and Pap-pap’s table growing up in Florida, is the foundation for the Pig’s menu—chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy, beer for breakfast (yes, it’s a thing)—she knows that comfort comes in many guises and encourages her cooks and staff to bring dashes and flourishes from their own family tables to the plate.
“I don’t ever claim to be a chef,” she says. “I love how thinking about food together creates a community based on commonality. We all have an idea of comfort and essentially it is about love.”
And salt. And pepper. “Salt and pepper are her best friends,” Amy’s wife Vivi adds.
“Shut up,” Wanderly-Britt rolls her eyes. “Everything we make only has three or four ingredients and has to be made with love. And, yes, salt and pepper.”
Modesty and simplicity, she says, are essential to creating a blank canvas for what she truly loves about food and interactions around a table.
“The food is just the backdrop,” she says. “It’s the moments, the conversations we share around that food that we remember and that matter. If we can give someone a hot simple meal that makes their day special, we put a smile on their face. It’s as simple as that.”
If You Go…
Pig & A Jelly Jar Salt Lake City
401 E. 900 South, SLC, (385) 202-7366.
Pig & A Jelly Jar Ogden
227 S. 25th St., Ogden, (801) 605-8400.
Pig & A Jelly Jar Holladay
1968 E. Murray Holladay Rd, Holladay, (385) 695-5148.
Open every day from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.