A single bite of food can transport you to another state, city or even country. But more and more Utah chefs are using local ingredients to immerse their guests in native tastes, textures and smells.
Chef Bowman Brown of Forage Restaurant in Salt Lake City found his passion for local food in a craving to connect with his environment.
“I have always had an intense desire to understand the land around me,” Brown says. “I seek to understand the place where I live by trying to distill the flavors of a place, in essence, and include those flavors in the food we cook and the experience we provide.”
Co-owners of the aptly named Forage Restaurant, Brown and Iron Chef Viet Pham, rely on small farms and ranches for the bulk of their ingredients, with the addition of foraged ingredients. Brown and Pham are no strangers to harvesting the elements of an award- winning meal along a sun-dappled trail.
“Using local ingredients is a qualitative decision for us,” Brown says. “We want the best quality ingredients, and those are inevitably the ingredients that are produced right around us.”
Forage is not the only Utah restaurant focused on delivering high-quality local ingredients.
Seven years ago, Chefs Jerry Leidtke, Kestrel Leidtke and Robin Kilpatrick noticed a lack of restaurants in Salt Lake City emphasizing locally
sourced ingredients. Their brainchild, Tin Angel, fills that need by providing local fare, fresh from the fields and farms of Utah.
The Tin Angel menu bursts with a diverse array of ingredients found at the local farmers market.
“Farmers markets are often home to a wide range of wonderfully aromatic, interesting, beautiful to look at, touch and eat ingredients unavailable to us through other venues,” Kestrel Leidtke says. “Since a meal is ultimately only as good as the ingredients used to build it, we are constantly seeking those opportunities for quality.”
Tin Angel has close relationships with its producers, loyally patronizing their stands and advertising them on the menu. This dedication to local producers and their products is catching momentum throughout the state.
“A commitment to local products is making sense to more people every day, and the old model of large- scale chain restaurants with poor-quality ingredients shipped in from all over the world is rapidly being replaced by a new model which values freshness and quality, as well as personal relationships,” Kestrel Leidtke says. “The Tin Angel has been pleased as punch to play our little part in this food revolution.”
Learn more about Utah restaurants that support the locally grown movement at www.utahsown.org.