Salt Lake City is still somewhat of an under-the-radar drinking and dining destination. But the Salt Lake Food & Wine Fest aims to help change that.
“In the last 15 to 20 years, Salt Lake has come into its own with its independent restaurant and bar scene,” says Michele Corigliano, executive director of the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association (SLARA), which is organizing this week’s 2nd Annual Salt Lake Food & Wine Fest. “We don’t think the reputation has kept up with what we actually offer. We want to highlight our food and spirit scene.”
Dubbed “Salt Lake’s favorite week for foodies,” a series of 17 culinary events — including a handful of craft beer-centric offerings — will take place Sept. 11-16. Rather than creating a centralized Fest location, organizers are scheduling dining experiences at 16 Salt Lake-area restaurants and an outdoor plaza.
View the complete schedule for the 2nd Annual Salt Lake Food & Wine Fest. #SLFoodWine
“No one’s ever done a food festival like this in Salt Lake,” Corigliano says. “We’re highlighting independent restaurants and bars in Salt Lake County. Instead of doing one singular event, (restaurants are serving as hosts) so people can start trying new restaurants throughout the county.”
Beer at the Salt Lake Food & Wine Fest
Though not in the name, craft beer will be well represented at the Fest. The weeklong event will showcase several of Utah’s craft brewers. Among the scheduled offerings:
- Sept. 12: Beer tasting and education class at Purgatory
- Sept. 15: Meet Your Maker at Regent Street
- Sept. 16: Brewery brunch and brewery tour at Proper Brewing Co.
- Sept. 16: Bucket O’Crawfish tap takeover with Shades Brewing (Note: this is a non-ticketed event; a la carte pricing for food and beverage)
Eric Meyer, Purgatory manager, will lead the beer tasting and education class on Wednesday. Students will learn to identify certain flavors prominent in various craft beers.
“I notice when people step into the bar, they usually stick to their favorites,” he says. “People don’t know how to really identify flavors on their tongue, to know what they like and don’t like.”
So Meyer, who’s in the process of becoming a certified Cicerone, partnered with Shades Brewing to help educate beer drinkers on ingredient flavors.
That way, if you think you don’t like dark beers but you enjoy flavors of chocolate, toffee, or fig, you might be surprised how much you like a porter or stout.
The class is limited to 25 students and Meyer says it’s a safe space for beer drinkers of every experience level. Weather-permitting, the class will be held outside on Purgatory’s deck — a beautiful atmosphere for tasting craft beers.
It’s just one of the Fest events where ales and lagers are the stars of the show.
“I think we have some of the best brewers in the world,” Corigliano says.
Meet Your Maker
The Fest’s signature Meet Your Maker event takes place on Sept. 15 on the Regent Street Plaza. It celebrates Utah’s food producers, breweries, distilleries, and independent restaurants.
“The event is designed to celebrate what is bountiful in Utah like heritage breed pork, local lamb, seasonal vegetables, and trout,” says Scott Evans, founder of Pago Restaurant Group, in a statement. “We are pairing each of those products with two chefs who will cook everything over a live fire.”
In addition to cuisine sampling, attendees will enjoy cocktails featuring spirits of area distilleries, as well as beer from local craft brewers.
A Focus on Independence
The inaugural Salt Lake Food & Wine Fest, held last year in July, drew about 400 attendees, Corigliano says. And this year, organizers are expecting to triple that.
“It’s part of our mission to help independent owners of restaurants and bars to become more successful,” Corigliano says. “We’re here to market the scene in Salt Lake and raise the level of awareness.”
Salt Lake Food & Wine Fest: If You Go
The 2nd Annual Salt Lake Food & Wine Fest takes place Sept. 11-16. Tickets remain for the majority of events, though two — the natural wine dinner at Pago and the Japanese whiskey tasting at Post Office Place — were sold out as of Sept. 9.
- WHERE: Restaurant locations throughout Salt Lake County and the Regent Street Plaza
- DATES: Sept. 11-16, 2018 (view full schedule)
- TICKETS: saltlakefoodandwinefest.com. Prices range from $20 to $155.
- FEATURED: Sept. 15 is the signature Meet Your Maker event ($100-$135). Ten different chefs and various local brewers, distillers, and wine brokers will be showcasing the best of Salt Lake.