Two Utah food products are finalists for major national awards

The nominations for Ritual Chocolate and Bitters Lab show them to be among the best in the country.

The finalists for the highly acclaimed Good Food Awards are in – and the Beehive State received a duo of nods.

The yearly ceremony, presented by the Good Food Foundation, recognizes the very best in American food culture, with this year’s list recognizing two Utah stalwarts.

Both Ritual Chocolate and Bitters Lab will compete in their respective categories (chocolate and elixirs) and try to take home a gold for Utah come spring. You might recall this is exactly what Beltex Meats did just last year, winning gold for its country paté.

Ritual, from Heber, is one of several Utah-based “bean to bar” chocolate manufacturers, the term referring to the thoughtful approach to the process of craft chocolate that begins right at the cacao bean itself. The use of heirloom beans and a considered approach to the biodiversity therein is a signature of Ritual. (Want to grab a bite? Head to Caputo’s or most Harmons locations, which stock a solid lineup of local craft chocolate.)

Ritual’s Pine Nut Chocolate bar is the product that made the finals this year. Ritual won the Good Food Award in 2016 for its Mid Mountain bar.

The second finalist hailing from Utah is Salt Lake City’s Bitters Lab, a name known to anyone with a passing interest in the local cocktail scene.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Bitters Lab of Salt Lake City — specifically the aromatic variety, at left — has been nominated in the elixirs category for the Good Food Awards. Winners are scheduled to be announced on April 21, 2023.

Starting life as a familiar face at the Downtown Farmers Market some six or seven years ago, the business has been one of the bigger success stories receiving acres of press coverage over the years (including nationally, with a 2016 mention in Bon Appetit magazine).

The 2023 edition of the awards sees 359 finalists from 42 states, and focuses on ensuring American culinary technique, ingredients and flavor are highlighted and preserved. From this year’s presser, the organizers note several examples of finalists doing just that:

“In Massachusetts, first-time Finalist Berkshire Cider Project created their Community Cider Project #2 using donated apples gleaned from backyards and forgotten trees. Up north, Barnacle Foods celebrates the Alaskan coast with their hand-harvested Finalists: Bullwhip Kelp & Piri Piri Hot Sauce, and Spruce Tip Jelly. In South Carolina, Holmes Sweet Home uses techniques passed down through generations to transform local dairy into decadent confections like their Sweet Cream Caramel Sauce.”

Winners will be announced April 21 in Portland, Oregon.

Editor’s note • Gastronomic SLC and The Salt Lake Tribune are partners in a content-sharing agreement.