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(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah food products include, clockwise from upper left: Honey almond rocky road popcorn from Cox Honeyland, assorted salt water taffy from Taffy Town, tea -size peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from Butcher's Bunches and Stone Ground Bakery, savory pie with cheese from Snowy Mountain Sheep Creamery and peach jam from Amour Spreads, quesadillas and Salsitas Mendoza salsa roja with Rico tortillas and filled with ground buffalo from Buffalo Rim Ranch and Rockhill Creamery Gouda, baklava from Sheer Ambrosia Bakery, New York strip steak from Jones Creek Beef and Specialty Stroopwafles from Cirkels.
Beehive State buffet: 41 ways food is feeding Utah’s economy

Utah’s Own » 41 ways food is feeding the state’s economy.

By Kathy Stephenson

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Apr 08 2014 07:31 am • Last Updated Apr 14 2014 01:24 pm

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.

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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.

Salad dressings » Guests at the reception enjoyed fresh micro greens from Zoe’s Garden in Layton and had two Utah salad dressing choices: Roglianos Authentic Italian and Atwoods Ranch Dressing.

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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.

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