Beehive State buffet: 41 ways food is feeding Utah's economy
Utah is home to about 350 food companies producing everything from salad dressing to salsa to specialty waffles.
These companies provide more than just great eating. They have created nearly 600 new jobs since 2010, according to an analysis by Utah's Own, a state program that offers food businesses training and marketing opportunities.
And there are more jobs to come.
According to the study, Utah food companies will add another 260 jobs per year through 2015.
The bottom line: "When you buy Utah products you support local Utah families," said Utah's Own director Seth Winterton.
Economists say that for every $1 spent on local food products, it adds $4-$6 to the state economy and helps to reduce the pollution from transporting goods long distances.
To put Utah's food scene into perspective, The Grand America Hotel created a Utah's Own buffet last week as part the Governor's day-long Utah Economic Summit. The menu was created almost entirely of Utah food products, 41 in all. (Start counting because we're going to list them all.)
"It shows just how many local products there are and that you can create an entire reception banquet with them," said Executive Chef Fernando Soberanis.
Atwoods isn't new. Owner and creator Steve Atwood began bottling and selling the creamy dressing in 1994 after customers at his fast-food restaurant in Tremonton kept asking for take-home bottles. Today, it is sold in nearly two dozen grocery stores, mostly in northern Utah and Idaho. Earlier this year, Atwood's introduced its newest product, a Southwest Ranch Dressing.
Salsas • At the quesadilla station, Grand America chefs used Rico brand tortillas and filled them with Rockhill Creamery gouda and ground bison from Buffalo Run Ranch. Salsa and guacamole from Salsitas Mendoza was served on the side.
Linnaea and Sergio Medonza started the family-owned salsa business two and half years ago when Sergio was laid off. They started with a traditional tomato salsa, sold at the Wasatch Front Farmers Market at Wheeler Farm. Today, the family Sergio never went back to his construction job sells several different salsas, from mild to hot as well as chips and guacamole. Their products soon will be found in Harmon's Grocery stores.
At the meat carving station, guests sampled Morgan Valley Lamb; Utah-raised Jones Creek beef topped with a chile glaze from Firebird Chile Co.; and Norbest turkey breast, topped with raspberry salsa from Chad's Raspberry Kitchen in Laketown near Bear Lake.
Chad's Raspberry Kitchen owners Craig and Jane Floyd make the "warm but sweet" salsa using raspberries from their farm, along with tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, green chiles and spices. It's the newest product for the company, which also sells raspberry jam, jelly and syrup. The Floyds launched the company in 2000, to make sure there was work for their son Chad, who became blind after undergoing a liver transplant at the age of 4. Chad, who was susceptible to infections, died in February 2013 but the family continues to honor him by sharing their raspberry products.
Sweets • This, of course, was one of the favorite tables, with many things to satisfy a sweet tooth: pecan peanut brittle from Avenue Sweets; hot chocolate sticks from Bella Rose Chocolates; hand-made chocolate truffles from Daniel's Fine Chocolates, honey almond popcorn from Cox Honeyland; citrus delights from Food of the Gods Chocolate; bubble gum from Kencraft Candy; taffy from Taffy Town; French macarons from Dessert Bites; Fat Boy ice cream, Utah State University Aggie ice cream and baklava from Sweet Ambrosia Bakery.
The most curious dessert offering may have been Cirkels Specialty Stroopwafles.
As legend has it, stroopwafels were invented in the Netherlands during the 18th century. A resourceful baker put scraps of dough into a waffle iron to create a thin crispy cookie. Then he turned the cookies into a sandwich by adding caramel filling.
Owner Christina Richards first tasted the treats during a trip to Europe. That fateful bag was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with stroopwafles, which eventually turned into an idea for a business.
Cirkels stroopwafles can be purchased at The Store and The Store II in the Salt Lake Valley as well as the University of Utah Hospital gift shop. They come in a variety of flavors, including traditional caramel with sea salt, salted caramel with milk, dark or white chocolate, salted caramel with peanut butter and salted caramel with dark chocolate espresso.
A few more • The Grand America chefs rounded out the Utah food offerings with "bangers and mash" using Colosimo Sausage and Yukon gold potatoes from Dibble Farms; spinach and pea souffle made with romano cheese from Gold Creek Farms and croutons from Volker's Artisan Bread; the antipasto station featured Creminelli Fine Meats, Beehive Cheese, Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, Vosen's bread and marinated vegetables from Sevillos Fine Foods; there were savory beef pies with Snowy Mountain Sheep Creamery cheese and peach jam from Amour Spreads; Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches with pork and Seal Sama teriyaki sauce; tea sandwiches with Stone Ground Bakery bread and Butchers Bunches Monkey Bizzness Spread; and finally to wash it all down there was Wasatch Brewery's Brigham's Brew root beer, Gossner Foods flavored milk and Apple Beer.