For this year's Dining & Bar Guide, City Weekly food critic Ted Scheffler decided to reach out to local chefs and restaurateurs to ask the simple question: "Where do you go to feed your belly and nourish your soul?" The answers were much more thoughtful and complex than you might expect. Enjoy:
Ali Sabbah, owner of Mazza: My favorite go-to place is this little Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall called South China House (428 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-364-9918). I go there after a night of drinking, if I'm feeling a cold coming on, or if I'm simply looking for a hot, nourishing meal. I know that most people would order the pho, which is superb, but for me, it's always the pho bo hue, a rich, spicy and funky soup served with shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, mint and, if you're in luck, cilantro.
Frederic Barbier, Snowbird food & beverage director: I really haven't been out much since we had Aymeric, our son. So right now, there's not much time to check new places, but I've been cooking at home a little bit more. Lately, it's about making homemade semolina pasta, which is fun to do with Aymeric. I have a lot of fun making either pasta or ravioli with him. And you know kids: He loves simple and good pasta with tomato sauce, fresh basil and freshly grated Parmesan.
Julie Wilson, Deer Valley Resort food & beverage director: Cooking paella around the backyard fire pit with my family and friends nourishes my soul and fills my belly. Ingredients tend to be shrimp, clams and last fall's harvest of chukar partridge, pheasant and venison sausage. And, of course, the traditional Spanish bomba: rice, chorizo, saffron, smoked paprika and love. A white Côtes du Rhône wine or Jumilla from Spain for a red are our favorite pairings.
Margo Provost, owner of Log Haven: My favorite fill? Homemade Bolognese, using my own garden-grown tomatoes from last season and fenneled sausage. I add a good supply of chopped carrots, too, because I love the sweetness, the color and texture. Paired with a Montepulciano red wine and crispy arugula with lemon and fresh shaved pecorino, this combo seems to just heal my spirit, and I feel loved!
Peter Cole, owner/founder of Squatters: Tripe, with lashings of onions, potatoes and parsley from the garden, in a light, liberally seasoned white sauce, simmered slowly for hours. My mother often served it for lunch on Saturdays; my brother and I would consume vast amounts. Just the thought of it brings tears to my eyes. Next, Sunday roast of well-seasoned, herbed, succulent Canterbury lamb, a mountain of potatoes, parboiled then cooked around the lamb to produce a perfect crispy outside, flavored and painted with all the scrumptious lamb goodness, and a lovely soft, nurturing interior.
Tom Woodbury, chef and author of Eat Fresh: Quick and Easy Meals: I'm a sucker for the corned-beef sandwich at Cinegrill (1000 S. Main, 801-328-4900). The garlic roll and big pile of corned beef are a guilty pleasure!
Todd Gardiner, owner/chef of Taqueria 27: Dining at Log Haven (6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Road, 801-272-8255, Log-Haven.com)—and especially seeing Dave Jones, Ian Campbell and the crew—is always a treat. It's where I learned how to do what I do. Preparing something at home that I have grown, caught or foraged and can share with friends and family is also satisfying. And, really, anytime someone cooks for me, it's a treat to see the creativity and passion that home cooks can bring to the table.
Lavanya Mahate, owner of Saffron Valley: The food that nourishes my soul and fills my belly is the Sunday brunch that I cook for my family every week. The menu varies slightly from week to week, but I almost always make a frittata with loads of veggies; a sweet treat like pull-apart bread; French toast or pancakes with syrup, and savory potatoes or mushrooms.
Mikel Trapp, owner of Fresco, Trio, Luna Blanca Taqueria and Current: If I'm dining out, my favorite spots to feed my soul and belly are Takashi and Provisions. I have enjoyed Takashi (18 W. Market St., 801-519-9595) for years and love the creativity and simplicity of how they prepare their menu. I was also a fan of Tyler Stokes when he had his restaurant, Dashi, in Sun Valley, and now Provisions (3364 S. 2300 East, 801-410-4046, SLCProvisions.com) in Holladay. The service and food are always exceptional.
Bill White, owner/chef of Park City eateries Grappa, Chimayo, Wahso, Windy Ridge Cafe & Bakery, Ghidotti's, Sushi Blue, Bill White Farms and Billy Blanco's: Mom's fried chicken on Sundays with family bantering around the table; Texas barbecue brisket in Austin during South by Southwest at 11:30 p.m. listening to awesome music with strangers who, after a few tequila shots, are now your new best friends; peas picked out of the garden in early summer, lightly blanched and tossed with toasted sesame seeds and dark sesame oil; fresh trout caught after the winter snow melts, cooked in an iron skillet over a campfire with lemon and almonds that you backpacked in for miles just to make this dish special.
Tyler Stokes, owner/chef of Provisions: Pho is one of my favorites, and I love what they do at both Oh Mai (3425 S. State, 801-467-6882, 6093 S. Highland Drive, 801-277-9888, OhMaiSandwich.com) and Pho Tay Ho (1766 S. Main, 801-466-3650, PhoTayHo.com). The simple, warm complexity from good pho, and the fresh garnishes combined with the long-simmered broth and meats is hard to beat. Another favorite is street tacos, and if I am not at a taco stand, it's always Lone Star Taqueria (2265 Fort Union Blvd., 801-944-2300, LoneStarTaqueria.com) for me.
Lisa Clive Ward, owner of Park City's Silver Star Cafe: When Jeff and I started dating 26 years ago, we spent most of our "dates" cooking and/or listening to music. We'd select recipes for marinades, sauces and such over coffee in the morning, go shopping for ingredients, head to the wine store to select a wine for the meal, then spend the afternoon and evening cooking together.
Angel Manfredini, owner of Bountiful's Mandarin Restaurant: Nothing beats my brother's lamb on the spit for Easter. A doctor by profession, a hunter and chef by passion, he kills the lamb himself at a local farm. It is studded with garlic cloves, oregano and olive oil. He slowly cooks it on the rotisserie for three hours, basting it with lemon juice, olive oil and more oregano. The prep and cooking is part of the enjoyment, all while the family and friends are gathering and drinking wine. Before the lamb is taken off the spit, everyone gathers to pull off the sizzling skin and eat it.
Briar Handly, owner/chef of Park City's Handle: The food that nourishes my soul and fills my belly most would have to be my wife's barbecue chicken and fresh tomatoes from the garden, with good balsamic, basil, arugula, sea salt and olive oil during the summer months. It's Melissa's go-to meal on our days off, and something she whips up twice a week so that I can have a break from cooking.
Matt Caputo, CEO of Caputo's Market & Deli: My favorite food in the world is nice bronze-cut, air-dried pasta. Whatever sauce it is, there should be far less of it than of the pasta. As one of my Italian friends always complains, "I can't eat pasta in America. I feel like I need to bring a fishing pole to find my pasta in all that sauce." Two local restaurants have pasta that I simply can't live without. Copper Onion's (111 E. Broadway, 801-355-3282, TheCopperOnion.com) hearty beef stroganoff satisfies just about every base craving man could have. I feel like growling and grunting while I am eating it. Meanwhile, over at Pago (878 S. 900 East, 801-532-0777, PagoSLC.com), the squid ink pasta makes me feel like singing and sharing; a thinking man's pasta for sure.