Go Local

Six Award-Worthy Artisan Food Makers

One of the perks of being a food writer — aside from frequently being able to dine in terrific restaurants — is to enjoy the products of some of our amazing local food artisans, from salsa makers and pastry chefs, to chocolates and gourmet tostadas. Here are a few of my favorite local food producers…


Mary Sandino from Grandma Sandino’s. Photo by Braden Latimer.

One of the perks of being a food writer — aside from frequently being able to dine in terrific restaurants — is to enjoy the products of some of our amazing local food artisans, from salsa makers and pastry chefs, to chocolates and gourmet tostadas. Here are a few of my favorite local food producers that are award-worthy. 

The Happy Dumpling Delivery Service is owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Kate Stalsberg Gurung and Robin Gurung. Kate describes their products this way: “We make handcrafted dumplings made from fresh ingredients and lots of love. We cook them, cool them, package them and deliver them to your door. We offer four different types that include Pork, Chicken, Gourmet Chicken and Vegetarian/Vegan.” 

When asked what led them to create Happy Dumpling, Kate says, “My husband and I started this business simply because we wanted to get our delicious dumplings out to the public. The first time I met my husband’s family they served these amazing dumplings or momos, as they are called in India. They were like no other potsticker, gyoza, or dumpling I have ever had, and I knew we needed to create a business centered around their dumplings.”

Salsa del Diablo makes killer salsas in an array of flavors and heat levels. Founded by Daniel Benites and Jennifer Lehmbeck, “We started our business 15 years ago because so many people who tried our salsas absolutely love them,” says Daniel. “My wife was the person who said we should try to sell our salsa instead of just giving it away to friends and family.” Salsa del Diablo products have spice levels ranging from mild to extra-hot. Says Benites, “We make small batch craft salsas, pesto and cashew sauce. Our salsa style is Mexico City meets California salsa.” As for this picky food writer, I can’t get enough of their restaurant-style salsa called Special Reserve, made with roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, and three kinds of peppers.

AJ Wentworth and his Chocolate Conspiracy team.

You might not expect someone with a background in health and wellness to wind up as a gourmet chocolatier, but that’s what happened to AJ Wentworth, founder/chocolate maker at SLC’s The Chocolate Conspiracy

“I am a certified holistic health practitioner. I noticed that there was a lack of diversity for healthy dessert options. This led me to chocolate,” says Wentworth. Being health-conscious, The Chocolate Conspiracy never uses refined sugar in their products, nor do they roast their cacao beans. 

“We manufacture chocolate from bean to finished product. Our chocolate is sweetened with raw Utah honey. We are the only bean to bar chocolate in the US to use honey as a primary sweetener,” he adds. As a nod to Utah and the raw, unfiltered Utah honey used to produce their chocolate, The Chocolate Conspiracy bars are shaped like honey combs. 

Joseph and Petra Vigil from Petra’s Backstubchen.

For authentic, German-style pastries in Utah, look no further than Petra Vigil’s Old Country baked goods at Petra’s Backstubchen. Developed from her mother’s recipes and those from cookbooks she brought with her from her native Germany, Petra Vigil bakes and sells strudels, pretzels, cookies, cakes and seasonal pastries from her home-based business. Her strudels (peach, cherry, apple) are out of this world, as are tasty treats like streuselkuchen, snowflake cake, and Oma’s nusskuchen walnut cake. Looking for something not-so-German? How about Petra’s divine cheesecakes, which come in an array of flavors, including chocolate, strawberry, raspberry, pumpkin, and Mandarin orange. Petra’s cookies, stollen and pretzels are equally köstlich

Sobe Eats is a drive-thru take-away eatery, food truck, and catering company operated by three owner brothers: Salvador Soberanis, Fernando Soberanis, and Victor Soberanis. You can preorder meals at their Sandy location and pick them up to enjoy a delicious food fiesta at home. 

Sobe Eats specializes in items like bahn mi tortas, burritos, tacos, tostadas, and rice bowls with a gourmet Latin spin. Choose from stuffings like birria, tinga, shrimp or veggie-guac for burritos, rice bowls and tacos or perhaps opt for a tasty tuna poke rice bowl. The terrific bahn mi tortas feature a choice of stuffing plus refried beans, pickled onions, radish, cilantro, lemon aioli, crushed tomato salsa and guacamole. Enjoy sipping artisanal aguas frescas or mocktails on the side. 

Any chef will tell you that the secret to great food is great sauces and great seasonings. With that in mind, Mary Sandino and Dave Udy have been making Grandma Sandino’s sauce and seasonings here in Utah for more than thirty years.

Most well known is Grandma Sandino’s Sicilian Sauce, which is based on a “house” vinaigrette that Dave loved when he ate at a Baltimore restaurant back in 1986 “the best Italian restaurant that I had ever eaten at,” he says. 

The Sicilian Sauce, like all of Dave and Mary’s products, is all natural, vegetarian, gluten free, vegan, sodium free, MSG free, nut free, soy free, and certified non-GMO. It’s made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, organic cane sugar, spices, granulated garlic and onion, and citric acid, and adds a touch of deliciousness to just about anything you can think of.

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