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Utah continues to wait for a first James Beard win

Ali Sabbah and Nick Zocco at JBF 2024 (Heather King)

This week saw the wraps taken off the final winners at the 2024 James Beard Foundation Awards. Sadly, Utah didn’t manage a tick in the win column at the prestigious event. The glitzy bash unfurled this Monday evening at The Lyric Opera of Chicago, with chefs gathered from all over the U.S. As a reminder, Michelin stars aren’t currently a thing in Utah, making the JBF the pinnacle of credentials for many a stateside chef.

The year for the Beehive started brightly with six names making an initial list of talent representing the state. This was ultimately whittled down to two finalist nominations in April. Ali Sabbah (Mazza) and Nick Zocco (Urban Hill) both made the trek to the Windy City carrying the Utah culinary flame. You can see ’em pictured top in their finest – picture courtesy of our contributor Heather King – who also made the gala event to cheer on Utah.

Ultimately neither managed to wrest the big ticket item for best chef Mountain region (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and good old Utah) – with Matt Vawter of Colorado’s Rootstalk snagging the award. You can scour through all the other winners here.

A bittersweet ending to be sure, but watch this space. Utah’s first win will be here sooner than many think…

H Mart - West Jordan (Brandon Luong)
H Mart – West Jordan (Brandon Luong)

H-Mart finally lands in West Jordan

It might have taken an anxious year’s wait from that original seismic announcement back in 2023, but the hotly anticipated H Mart is now open in Utah. Hotly anticipated is perhaps an understatement. Since that first post last Summer, my inbox has seen queries week upon week – “are we there yet?” And then, with little fanfare, June 7th saw the doors swing open. I was happily out of state. Harrumph.

You probably didn’t miss the news though. The Trib, Reddit, ABC4, KSL, FOX13 – the column inches were wide and broad on this one. From all accounts, a mix of brand aficionados and the curious stretched out of the door on the big day. I hear it’s still buzzing days later.

The store in West Jordan (1442 W 9000 S) is Utah’s inaugural location and clocks in at some 100,000 square feet – making it the largest in the United States; the Trib story confirms 50K of that serves as actual retail space, with a little under half of that again reserved for the upcoming restaurant area. More word on those, as concrete names are laid down.

Taqueria Los Lee - gorditas
Taqueria Los Lee – gorditas

Two of my favorites bounce back

Also, while I was away, two of my favorite businesses announced plans to get back into action. First up Taqueria Los Lee, who left the local dining scene back in October 2022; their South Salt Lake spot was ultimately replaced by Emiliano’s Taco Shop – also very worthy of your time and tastebuds I might add. Start with the street tacos.

For new readers, here’s me getting all hot under the collar about Los Lee. Consider me all sorts of giddy then, that the business just announced those wonderful gorditas will soon be back on the streets of SLC. Taking to Facebook, Los Lee confirmed they’ll be rollin’ around Utah this Summer in what looks like a new food truck setup. Be sure to follow their relevant socials to keep track.

Another fine name making a reappearance – Garage On Beck. The 21+ bar in the Marmalade finally re-opened its doors on June 7th. After spending a solid six months recovering from fire damage, owner Robert McCarthy last popped up at the April DABS meeting seeking a final extension on their bar license. Bonus news for fans: it looks like the kitchen is almost ready to rock too.

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