Food & Drink

Fine Dining Never Tasted So Sumptuous

Food writer, Heather L. King, gives her take on five Utah chef’s making an impact: Fernando Soberanis, Jacqueline Siao, Matt Crandall, Joey Ferran, and Nick Zocco


Left to right: Fernando Soberanis, Salvador Soberanis, and Victor Soberanis, founders of Sobe Eats. Photo courtesy of

Fernando Soberanis

Sobe Eats , Grand America

Executive Chef Fernando Soberanis has more than 25 years of professional culinary experience on his resume, but cooking has always been a part of his and his family’s life. That’s part of the reason that he and his brothers, Executive Chefs Victor and Salvador, launched Sobe Eats, a Sandy drive-thru as well as a catering and concessions outlet offering fresh Mexican tastes.

Sobe Eats celebrates traditional flavors and techniques of Mexican cuisine from their family recipes and heritage while also incorporating modern twists. The tuna tostada is loaded with spicy ahi poke on a crispy tostada topped with a cool layer of avocado that’s drizzled with a spicy aioli alongside black sesame seeds, tobiko and fresh radish slices.

Soberanis has been a part of Utah’s growing hospitality industry for decades. He’s been the executive chef at Hotel Park City and The Aerie at Snowbird, as well as the executive banquet chef at Zermatt Resort. But he found his most tenured culinary success at The Little America and The Grand America.

As Executive Chef at The Grand, he oversees 350 culinary staff members who serve more than one million guests each year.

He works closely with local purveyors such as Christiansen Family Farm in Fairfield, Utah to curate dishes like the cider-brined, bone-in pork chop at Laurel, accompanied by not-too-sweet candied yams. Snake River Farms grass-fed beef franks are the meat of the Pigs in a Blanket starter that are then wrapped in croissant dough and dipped in spicy mustard sauce.

Chef Jacqueline Siao. Photo by Ted Scheffler.

Chef Jacqueline Siao

Adelaide and Van Ryder

Chef Jackie is no stranger to Utah. She perfected her craft in the kitchen at several restaurants in Park City — including J&G Grill at St. Regis Deer Valley. She brings her Le Cordon Bleu training, including time in San Francisco, Colorado and Vermont; knowledge of hotel guests’ and Utah diners’ tastes, and her own multi-cultural heritage to the table as she oversees the kitchen and food menus at both Adelaide on the first floor, and Van Ryder on the sixth floor of the recently opened Le Méridien and Elements hotels.

Siao, who is Filipina and fluent in English, Chinese and Tagalog, melds Western and Eastern influences impressively. Take her summertime Asian fusion Sushi Thursdays menu at Van Ryder that features a decadent lobster and shrimp tempura shareable with black pepper marmalade and tangy yuzu kosho — a Japanese chile condiment.

Careful execution is her hallmark using quality ingredients. For example, the mushroom al Ajillo gives vegetarians something to rave about with meaty mushrooms mingling with sweet peppers, chili flakes, blistered garlic, and a splash of Chablis wine, then dressed with a corn and leek emulsion.

And her thirst for experimentation is evident in every meal, from a play on vichyssoise soup that welcomed Adelaide guests at opening with warm cauliflower base featuring white truffle, d’Anjou poached pears and spiced pecans to the newly launched daily brunch menu at Adelaide that leans into the urban brasserie vibe with ricotta donuts rolled in cinnamon sugar and resting on a pool of crème anglaise.

Brunch at Franklin Ave Cocktails and Kitchen. Photo courtesy of their Facebook page.

Matt Crandall

Franklin Ave. Cocktails and Kitchen, White Horse, Whiskey Street

Matt Crandall is a name that has been around Salt Lake’s culinary scene for some time. Born into the Hires Big H family, the restaurant business is in his blood. Today, he is the Executive Chef and Bourbon Group Partner of Franklin Ave. Cocktails and Kitchen, White Horse, and Whiskey Street. It’s his culinary genius on display daily at these food-forward bars in downtown Salt Lake City and the airport.

Trained at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Crandall coaxes nuanced flavors from vegetables like fresh snap peas with coconut and Chile crisp at Franklin, and roasted corn crab chowder at Whiskey Street. His love of fresh seafood is fully on display at the 2 locations of White Horse with the Fruits De Mer (12 oysters, 6 prawns, ahi tuna tataki, hamachi, wakame) which also showcases some impressive knife work.

Each restaurant’s menu is thoughtfully reflective of the intention of the place with splurge-worthy protein and veggie dishes that will delight a group at brunch, lunch or dinner. 

From the comfort-food heart-stopper short rib grilled cheese at Whiskey Street, only the best ingredients like Gruyere, smoked cheddar and slow-braised short ribs, to a gorgeous steak tartare at Franklin that’s counter-balanced with both rich and fresh flavors from pickled daikon and cucumber that can be built onto a potato chip one bite at a time.

Thanks to Crandall, a meal at Franklin, White Horse or Whiskey Street is a culinary adventure in every bite.

Joey Ferran at Cucina Wine Bar. Photo by John Taylor.

Joey Ferran

Cucina Wine Bar

Cucina Chef Joey Ferran excels at layering textures, colors and flavors into every bite. The dynamic small plates dinner menu features inventive interpretations of American and southwest flavors — whether it be the annatto chicken with blue hopi masa and borlotti beans with a chile de arbol butter, or the paper-thin smoked venison carpaccio served with pickled black currants and a bacon mayo.

While Ferran is an avid collector of cookbooks and loves to seek inspiration from celebrity chefs, his dishes at Cucina have plenty of fans — and there is a good reason for it. He smokes tomatoes in the house smoker, grows herbs for garnishes and builds sauces from scratch.

On his first day at Cucina, Ferran discovered an Imperia pasta roller in storage, and fresh pasta has been on the menu every day since. Always intriguing, Ferran does follow a formula for his pasta dishes: each of the pastas will have a wilted green, a protein and some kind of sauce. Diners can enjoy regularly changing and robust offerings like the herbaceous oregano tagliatelle studded with Spanish chorizo swirled in a Marcona almond Romesco sauce or the squid ink gnocchi featuring calamari and a buttery pea flower beurre blanc.

The Salt Lake native honed his culinary chops at Log Haven where his love of local ingredients grew. Today, his relationships with local purveyors, growers and foragers means that the ever-evolving menu always features seasonal ingredients — whether that’s edible flowers, mushrooms, or bison.

Nick Zocco

Urban Hill

Nick Zocco has spent the past two decades honing his culinary craft around the western United States. Time spent in his native New Mexico, including training in the culinary arts, along with a long stint in Las Vegas helped develop his signature style.

Zocco eventually landed in Park City as a chef at Tupelo restaurant in 2017. In 2021, he became a part of the Hearth and Hill family in Park City in 2021 in anticipation of his role as Executive Chef at Urban Hill in the Post District of Salt Lake City.

If seated in the right spot, you can watch Zocco and his “love-to-cook attitude” in action via the open kitchen. His innovative cuisine is regularly on display through his creative use of culinary techniques — fire for example. At opening, ember-roasted carrots graced the menu while today coal-fired beets and fire-roasted squash are featured in various sections.

Attention to detail and Zocco’s dedication to quality ingredients takes center stage with seafood options. Try the crudo that pops with tangerine aguachile, jalapeno and furikake.

Zocco’s heritage and history are also evident on the upscale menu at Urban Hill. The halibut ceviche is served with plantain chips and fermented habanero coulis, bringing together fresh citrus and crunch in an addictive way. But meaty cuts of pork, lamb porterhouse and dry-aged ribeye also speak to those who like big steak house-style entrees.

In Urban Hill, Zocco has crafted a delicious vision of what fine dining can taste like.


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