Salt Lake City’s iconic ‘Santa Shack’ is home to a new Keto bakery

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Melanie Edwards puts up signage on the iconic Sugarhouse ‘Santa Shack" as it is transformed into a new gluten-free bakery called The Keto Bakehouse. Edwards plans to open on Thursday, Oct. 8, selling gluten-free, low carb, no-sugar cookies, cakes, brownies, cupcakes, chocolates, trail mixes, and energy bars.

Salt Lake City’s iconic “Santa Shack” is home to a new bakery — one that will operate for 11 months while the jolly old elf is busy at the North Pole.

There are cookies, cakes, pies and chocolates at the Keto Bakehouse, 2275 S. Highland Drive. But regular butter and sugar are not part of this formula.

St. Nick — or at least his generous waistline — might appreciate the new occupants of his Sugar House home.

“The childhood treats that we all grew up loving are now guilt free,” said bakery owner Melanie Edwards. “We handcraft our desserts so that they are low carb, no sugar, gluten free and non GMO.”

The Keto Bakehouse is an extension of Leafy Mama, a vegan and gluten-free chocolate company that Edwards started in 2014 in her home kitchen.

Edwards said she figured out a way to sweeten her desserts without the aftertaste left by some sugar alternatives, and the baked goods have a familiar texture while avoiding gluten-based flours and products.

The Santa Shack originally opened in 1947 and has undergone many changes over the years, including the construction of a completely new building.

Edwards plans to keep the essence of the shack intact.

Because of its small size, customers won’t be able to go inside the shack. The menu is available for socially distanced orders Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Santa is expected to return to the shack in December with new health regulations to keep visitors safe during the coronavirus, Edwards said.

— Alixel Cabrera

Winter Market moves to The Gateway

Salt Lake City’s weekly Winter Market will have a new home at The Gateway, officials announced this week.

The Saturday event was forced to switch locations after the March 18 earthquake damaged the Rio Grande Depot, where it has been held for several years.

“We remain committed to helping our community connect with and support local food producers,” officials with Urban Food Connections of Utah wrote in a newsletter to patrons, “and are grateful to The Gateway for stepping up to be our new partner for the 8th season of the Winter Market.”

The damage to the Rio Grande Depot was mostly plaster falling from the interior walls that had lead paint, Utah Heritage and Arts said on its website after the quake.

“The resulting dust has made the building unsafe to enter until HazMat crews can clean the building,” the website states. “There is also some structural damage that will need [to be] repaired, although engineers have not found anything that would prevent the building from reopening in the future.”

The Winter Market will be held Nov. 14 through April 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will take place in the old Z Gallerie space at 12 S. Rio Grande St., directly west of the fountain. said market director Alison Einerson. It will be primarily indoors, but a handful of booths will be outside when weather permits.

Until then, shoppers can continue to get local produce at the Downtown Farmers Market at Pioneer Park. The Saturday event ends Oct. 24.

— Kathy Stephenson

Utah cook wins wild rice contest

Alpine resident Nancy Judd — and her Thai Wild Rice Coconut Chicken Soup — won the $500 grand prize in the 11th annual Get Wild with Wild Rice recipe contest, judges announced. Judd’s soup — which marries wild rice with mushrooms, ginger, red curry paste, chicken, spinach and lime juice — stood out for its Asian-inspired flavor, ease of preparation and gluten-free option.

It was a “delicious combination of ingredients,” they wrote in a news release, with “an explosion of Thai flavor — perfect as an appetizer or hearty meal.”

The annual contest is sponsored by the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council and features recipes from cooks across the country.

— Kathy Stephenson

Bee Fest goes online

It’s all about the honey makers at the 2020 Bee Fest. Join a series of livestreamed events in which harp music will be turned up and bee poetry read. Attendants will also see a demonstration of the making of a Bee’s Knees, a honey-based cocktail. All this, while learning about bees and other pollinators.

Speakers from the Natural History Museum of Utah, Wasatch Community Gardens, the Department of Food and Agriculture, White Lake Farms, Ogden Nature Center and Wasatch Beekeepers Association will discuss topics that include native bees, pollinator habitats and the medicinal use of bee products in prerecorded sessions.

The 10th edition of the festival produced by CATALYST Magazine will run on Oct. 10 and Oct. 17. They won’t require tickets to join the virtual events, but they encourage attendants to RSVP on their Facebook page.

“We’re so sad we can’t have our live event at Wasatch Community Gardens’ Green Team Farm this year,” Bee Fest organizers said on their website. “We want to use this year to unite Utah’s bee-lovers virtually, and engage even those who don’t call Utah home, but who also love bees and all their pollinator friends.”

— Alixel Cabrera