Food & Drink

Five Utah Chefs You Need to Know About

For those looking for a new dining experience look no further than the experiences provided by the chefs at Hell’s Backbone Grill, Oquirrh, Handle, Bar Nohm, and The Pearl.


As if things couldn’t get any more magical at legendary Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah, co-owner’s Blake Spalding and Jen Castle announced that for their 24th season, Tamara Stanger would be joining their team as Executive Chef. Stanger’s commitment to using wild and Indigenous ingredients in creative (and delicious) ways has been a hallmark of her cooking style, both at award-winning restaurants in Arizona and more recently here in her home state of Utah at The Lakehouse at Deer Creek. A tip for your next HBG visit: Anything involving pie — whether a savory dinner pie or fruit-packed sweet ending to the meal — is a must-order with Stanger’s deft hand at pastry. ( 

Inside Oquirrh. Photo by John Taylor.

When asked which chefs in Utah reflect the best of what’s happening in the state’s burgeoning culinary landscape, chef-owner Andrew Fuller at Oquirrh is always on my list. His food is consistently delightful and truly speaks to a sense of place without being gimmicky. And regulars are crossing fingers for the return of his famed chicken pot pie, epitomizing the comfort foods of fall. Whether stopping in for one of the best burgers in the Salt Lake Valley for weekend brunch, or when ordering any of the dishes featuring house-made pasta for dinner, Oquirrh’s small but mighty menu is full of surprises. (

Chef Briar Handly of Handle in Park City and HSL in Salt Lake City.

With multiple James Beard award semifinalist nominations for Best Chef in the Mountain region, Executive Chef Briar Handly plates some of the most beautiful food in the state at Handle in Park City, and sister spot HSL in downtown Salt Lake. Fortunately for diners at both spots, the bright, zingy, and beautifully balanced flavors as conceptualized by Handly, dependably live up to the expectation of each dish’s gorgeous presentation. From the signature cauliflower appetizer — served Buffalo-style at Handle or a General Tso’s version at HSL — to one of their decadent main dishes and on to a sweet finale, a meal at one of Handly’s restaurants is a treat for all of the senses. (;


Chef David Chon is creating some of the most original and boundary-pushing food in the valley right now at Bar Nohm. As the name indicates, the restaurant, formerly called just Nohm, recently reopened as a 21+ bar attached via a pass-through door shared with new ownership partners at Water Witch, a James Beard 2022 nominee for Outstanding Bar Program. While some Nohm favorites — such as chicken skin and pork belly skewers — are still on the menu, Bar Nohm’s fresh and flavorful bites lean in the laid-back direction of Japanese izakaya bar culture, both in terms of inspiration and ingredients. ( 

Tommy Nguyen of The Pearl. Photo by John Taylor.

At Central 9th bar The Pearl, Chef Tommy Nguyen is hitting his stride serving up elevated and beautifully plated interpretations of Vietnamese street food. Think fried fish bahn mi sandwiches loaded with fresh and house-pickled veggies, flavor-packed chicken wings with fish sauce and house chili crisp, or satisfying pork belly sliders. And when the weather cools down, there’s something particularly life-affirming about a big bowl of Nguyen’s pho, only available on Sunday nights. At once simple and sophisticated, Nguyen’s food is a perfect complement to the bar’s adventurous cocktail menu and lively atmosphere. (


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