It’s a wrap – November 2017

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SL County Health AMA on Reddit

Salt Lake County Health Inspection AMA – One of the most popular recurring features on our Facebook page is the blow by blow account of the Salt Lake County Health inspectors, and their restaurant closures. When a restaurant is closed, the lurid inspection details are often a mix of fascinating and stomach turning.

Recognizing the obvious interest in the general process, this week over on Reddit, staff provided an AMA (ask me anything) about health inspections; everything from info on the procedure itself through to questions and answers on roaches and dead goats. The whole Q&A is fascinating reading, highlights include:

UserTheRabbitTree 24: What kind of things can a layman look for in the publicly accessible parts of a restaurant (like the dining room, parking lot, and restrooms) that might indicate unsanitary/careless practices in the kitchen?

One really easy thing to check: make sure the establishment has a current health department permit. That means it at least met our minimum standards at the time of its last inspection. If the public areas of a restaurant (especially the restrooms) are dirty, the kitchen probably isn’t any better. If staff members you interact with are poorly trained, those you don’t have contact with are likely to be the same. In short: whatever you can’t see probably mirrors (or is even worse than) what you can. If you see a problem, tell us! We can’t be at every restaurant every day, so we rely on the public to alert us to problems they observe

User LordPizzaParty: I’ve read some of the inspection results on the website. Some of the violations make perfect sense, but some don’t seem like that big of a deal. What are some seemingly innocuous-sounding violations that actually present a big health hazard?

Every violation is there for a reason! For example, a scuffed up cutting board might not seem like a big deal, but when you’re serving hundreds of people a day and bacteria can remain in the crevices of the board, food can quickly become contaminated.

User soreal_solife: Are chains usually more or less sanitary than local restaurants?

People think otherwise, but chains are often times more sanitary. This is because they typically have some kind of formal training program in place. You can take a look and compare some of the inspection reports on our website, it’s a pretty common trend.

User thisislisahall: Has being a health inspector ruined your appetite for eating out? Or do you only eat at places with a 4 star rating on the inspection?

Most of us are real foodies—we love all kinds of food, we love going out, and we love supporting local businesses. We do admit to being more cautious since working at the health department, but it’s less about WHERE we won’t eat and more about WHAT we won’t eat.

Some us no longer eat rare beef (because we’ve seen firsthand the effects of e. Coli). Others love a rare steak but won’t eat runny eggs (because we know how many people get salmonella from undercooked eggs). Someone else may still eat soft eggs but won’t eat alfalfa sprouts (because of how often they’re implicated in food borne illness outbreaks).

Eating ANY potentially hazardous food is a personal choice—a process of weighing risks and benefits—that everyone makes for themselves. Our job is to make sure you know about any potential risks so your choice is an informed one, and especially to help ensure you aren’t unknowingly exposed to hidden risks due to unsafe food handling.

Read every Q&A and the complete AMA over on the following r/SaltLakeCity thread. It’s intriguing stuff.

Amy Eldredge
Amy Eldredge

Under Current – As an outgrowth of the popular spirits educational spirits seminars at Under Current Bar, (most recently, American Whiskey in October and Scotch in November, both of which sold out in record time), Under Current Bar’s managing partner Amy Eldredge is offering private, personalized classes that are both fun and affordable.

All private cocktail programs can be personalized to business or home needs. Amy will meet to determine the best approach, offerings and level of expertise for each private group and will custom-tailor every educational experience. As an option, beverages can be paired with tastes from chef Alan Brines’ kitchen at Current Fish & Oyster. Available classes include:

* Cocktails 101: go behind the scenes of bartending as Amy teaches the fundamentals of cocktail composition and technique. From varieties of cocktails to tools needed and ice fundamentals, learn how your favorite bartenders compose and serve your favorite drinks.

* Spirits 101: focuses on the wide array of spirits available on the market. Focus will be on various distillation techniques, the history behind each spirit and the flavor profiles.

* Home Bar: learn how to wow your guests with simple, practical techniques including: how to produce proper cocktails at home, which tools to source, how to have a home hand-crafted ice program and the fundamentals of a home bar. This class also includes a general outline of Spirits 101.

* Advanced Spirits: learn about anything from Absinthe to Whiskey. The focus is on whatever spirit you’d like to focus on and learn about a favorite cocktail and how best to enjoy it.

Eldredge writes:

“Time and time again, we’re asked the question, ‘How can I make that at home?’ With so many people showing a need for more knowledge on how to set up a home bar, or what to order at a client dinner, this would really be a great holiday, client or birthday gift — the gift of knowledge. The classes are a great experience and super enjoyable, but you walk away knowing so much more about the burgeoning cocktail culture or just better capable to throw your next party.”

Wine at DABC store
Wine at DABC store

DABC news – Via press release, the DABC recently announced several changes to improve service during the current holiday season. This time of the year is understandably the busiest in the calendar.

If this is any indication, the holiday period from now through New Year’s Eve will set a record dollar amount of sales.

* A second shift has been hired and is underway at the warehouse. This will ensure that products can be picked and loaded onto trucks for delivery to the stores, as well as additional stock being received and placed in the warehouse. The warehouse is now operating 16 hours a day, 5 days a week.

* Deliveries to most stores have been increased. Some stores will receive 2, 3, and even 4 loads per week during the holidays. This will help ensure that popular items, such as Champagne and other sparkling wines, do not get depleted on store shelves.

* The Club and Restaurant Warehouse on 9th West will open on Saturdays through the holidays for licensees. Hours will be noon to 5pm.

* Hours at some stores that usually close at 7pm may be extended.

* Some cashiers and other store employees will get extra hours per week to meet demand.

* Some administrative personnel from DABC headquarters will assist in stores on the busiest days to help customers, cashiers, and restocking.

* Some busy stores will have security personnel will check everyone’s ID as customers enter the store. This will eliminate a cashier having to stop the checkout process in order to make sure an ID is valid. This speeds up lines, helping customers get in and out quicker.

Terry Wood, Director of Communications and Public Information for the DABC writes:

While we still expect lines on the busiest days, these steps will make the process faster and more pleasant for customers during the pre-holiday rush. Our busiest days are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the two or three days before Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

We are, of course, closed on each holiday and we do, as we have every year, advised customers to do their holiday planning and shopping early, several days before the holiday. Because both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve fall on Sunday this year, stores will remain open for regular hours on the two Saturdays, December 23rd and December 30th. They will, as usual, be closed on Sunday.

Feast Of The Five Senses 2016 - passed appetizers
Feast Of The Five Senses 2016 – passed appetizers

Slow Food Utah – If you attended this years Feast Of The Five Senses, congratulations! You helped Slow Food Utah nail their fund raising goals. The 13th annual event helped to to raise over $10,000 for the microgrant program. SFU Writes:

A HUGE thanks to all of the amazing chefs who participated this year. A big thank you to all those who attended, supported, donated, and participated. We wined. We dined. We laughed. We cried. And we felt the love and power of the Utah Slow Food Community. Thanks for being a part of this special event.

That means that more school and community gardens, new food entrepreneurs, local farmers and food education programs will receive much-needed start-up funds to help grow the local food economy in Utah in 2018!

Special thanks go to Westminster, Sysco, Francis Fecteau of Libation, and Sally Sears of Caffe Ibis for their generosity and dedication to this event and to SFU.

If you didn’t attend, also recognized for their contributions to the local food scene at the event:

Community Leader
Jorge Fierro, Rico Brand and Frida Bistro

Jorge is not only a successful entrepreneur in his own right, but has also helped many other food businesses get their start. He is a passionate advocate for immigrant rights, a leader in helping to feed the hungry, and a stalwart supporter of many nonprofits in our community including Slow Food Utah!

Restaurant/Chef
Scott Evans, Pago Group

Scott has long been a leader in our community when it comes to true farm-to-table cuisine. Since 2009 with the opening of Pago, his vision of promoting locally grown, seasonal produce, sustainable proteins, and local artisan products has elevated the fine dining experience in SLC. His willingness to support our local food system, and his long-standing dedication to SFU has earned him our Snail Award for this year. Thanks Scott!

Farmer/Producer
Danny McDowell and Dale Batty, Old Home Place Heritage Farms

Many of you know Danny from his McDowell Family Farms days, selling eggs and pasture raised poultry, but what you may not know is how hard Danny worked behind the scenes with the Utah Dept. of Agriculture to help change and modernize the rules for raising poultry, so that others following in his footsteps will be able to bring fresh and local chicken to market. Now he has passed the torch to Dale Batty of Old Home Place Heritage Farms, leaving SLC with a new source for great poultry! Come visit Dale at the Rio Grande Winter Market! Tell him Danny sent you.

Utah Cheese Awards
Utah Cheese Awards

2017 Utah Cheese Awards – Congratulations to the winners of this inaugural 2017 contest. Held at Caputo’s Market in Salt Lake City, three judges determined these products to be the best Utah-made cheese and cheese plate Foods. Judges Trent Harris, Tosha Rustad and Julie Kelso awarded the following products as winners:

2017 Utah Cheese Awards
2017 Utah Cheese Awards – cheese
2017 Utah Cheese Awards - other winners
2017 Utah Cheese Awards – other winners
Pizza Nono - pizza to go
Pizza Nono – pizza to go

Minor notes – Some other random news items that crossed our desk over the past few weeks:

* Pizza Nono – Now offering pickup parking. We are always looking to get a hot fresh pizza out of our oven in to your hands quicker. Now, we added a 15 minute pick-up parking in the alley. Order online and give us a call when you are here and we will run out your order to your your car.

* OpenTable – Announced it’s list of best overall restaurant in Utah. The list is based of actual diner’s experiences at restaurants around the state. See the full list here.

* Mountain West – Bar and restaurant owners take note, Mountain West is available on draft, if you buy it, I will come. I expect others will too. MWC confirmed recently: Did you know that you can get any Mountain West Cider on draft? That’s right, you now can offer Utah’s local hard cider poured on draft to your thirsty customers. Choose to pour a refreshing glass of MTN WST cider, or use a desired amount for mixing in a cocktail. Mountain West Cider 1/2 and 1/6bbl kegs are competitively priced and available at the Tasting Room today. Plus! We offer tap handles, glassware and carafes. Keg Prices are listed as: 1/6 BBL – $158.10, 1/2 BBL – $423.30.

* Zest – happy birthday to this vegetarian and vegan restaurant that just celebrated five years in business. Owner Casey Staker wrote “we are so lucky to have found a wonderful community here in SLC. it’s been an amazing five years so far and we’re looking forward to so many more! thank you for being a part of it”. Vegan restaurants in particular seem to be blooming right now in SLC.

Stuart avatar

Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you!  I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune.  I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.

I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade.   I’m largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand.  I ate all the pies.

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