Utah Bites

Botany and Booze and More Salt Lake Foodie News

The Spiritual Side of Botany class at Red Butte Garden. Bambara appoints new chef. Fenice Mediterranean Bistro in downtown SLC closes.


Botany + Booze @ Red Butte Garden

The good folks at Red Butte Garden invite you (21 and over) to “spend a fun evening in the Garden learning about the plants behind your favorite spirits, distillation processes, and cocktail tasting.”

The “class” is called “The Spiritual Side of Botany” and attendees will spend the evening at Red Butte’s Garden Rose House with Red Butte’s Lead Horticulturist, Lynsey Nielson learning of the different plants behind your favorite spirits, then take a deep dive into the distillation process with Alan Scott, Co-Owner and Distiller of Waterpocket Distillery. The evening will finish up with a cocktail tasting with Crystal Daniels, Beverage Director of Post Office Place & Takashi.

The cost for the evening is $86 for Garden Members or $90 for the General Public. Click here for additional information and to register. 

Bambara Appoints New Chef

The Kimpton Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City has appointed Patrick J. LeBeau as its new Executive Chef for Bambara. Here is what the folks at Bambara have to say about their new chef:

“Originally from Rochester, NY, Chef LeBeau’s love of cooking started at a young age, spending countless summers watching his grandfather cook. Ironically, the grandfather he never met was a butcher at his local grocery store his entire career; and to this LeBeau says food is in his blood. After working in kitchens for most of his young adult life, he attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts in 2012.”

“Prior to joining Bambara, LeBeau served as chef de cuisine at the 800-room Loews Hotel Kansas City, MO from March 2020, where he oversaw the restaurant operations and menu development for four F&B outlets. Before his move to Kansas City, LeBeau lived in Chicago for over six years where he served as sous chef, and later, chef de cuisine, at NoMI Kitchen, Park Hyatt, under Executive Chef Ed Sura. Here, he honed in on his charcuterie skills; mastering the process of curing meats and pickling. In 2018, LeBeau worked as a research and development chef for Home Chef in Chicago, where he worked on developing 18 recipes per week, tracking nutritional values, menu analysis and staying on top of food trends.”  

“LeBeau’s philosophy when it comes to creating menus and recipes is to let the ingredients speak for themselves and to not overcomplicate the food. He strives to provide the best products using what’s in season and local to the region, served in an approachable yet interesting way using a variety of flavor profiles. When he’s not at work, LeBeau can be found exploring new hiking trails with his girlfriend and Corgi, scoping out breweries in town, golfing, and spending time in nature.”

Stay tuned to Utah Bites for updated Bambara menu information. 

Fenice Closes

I was really bummed to hear from its owners of the closing of Fenice Mediterranean Bistro in downtown SLC. The final dinner service at Fenice was held on Saturday, August 20th and then this notice was posted on the restaurant’s door:

“8/21/2022 Dear Fenice Patrons and Supporters. Due to the many challenges facing small businesses in the current economy, we have made the difficult decision to cease operations.

There are many factors involved in our decision, and while our business levels were not consistent, we didn’t adequately anticipate how difficult it is to staff the restaurant in the current economy. We simply don’t have enough help to operate successfully.

We will take some time to re-assess the business to determine if it is feasible to continue operations at a later date. We thank you for the support you have given us and wish you all the best. Please come visit us at our Park City restaurant, the Silver Star Café. Thank you, The owners and staff”

Owners Lisa and Jeff Ward were dealing – as are many restaurateurs – with staffing shortages, skyrocketing food and labor costs, road construction, being handcuffed by the DABC with a 21 and over liquor license, plus a myriad of other challenges. She told me that she and the Fenice staff “are heartbroken.” She added, “No one did anything wrong; it’s just the times we are in and a weird economic climate at the moment.”

Jeff and Lisa offered all of their staff jobs at their sister restaurant, Silver Star Cafe in Park City and are working to help them find positions at other SLC restaurants. According to the National Restaurant Association, 90,000 restaurants across the U.S. have closed permanently or long-term as a result of the pandemic. Fenice was an excellent restaurant with top-notch service, a stellar ambiance, and outstanding cuisine – a short-lived, bright star that flamed out far too soon. I’m sad to see it go. 



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Food writer Ted SchefflerOriginally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.

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