Since 2004, ChefDance has been one of the Sundance Film Festival's main sideshows. Founders Kenny Griswold and Mimi Kim have tinkered with the event, nearly every year: This year, for the big 10th anniversary, they decided to add music to the mix.
Last night, the crowd at the door started building around 6:30pm, largely because the night was supposed to be the site of the premiere party for the much-anticipated Sound City movie starring ex-Foo Fighter Dave Grohl. (He later played a set at Park City Live.) The film debuted at this year's festival. I don't think the draw was Whitney Miller, the night's chef. Though she's cute as a button (right?)
her creds (America's first Masterchef winner!) just aren't strong enough to draw 300+ people to pack the Memorial Building, downstairs from the former Harry O's.
And if that is why people came, probably many were disappointed: the menu was pretty unimaginative, the execution average and the way the room is set up made really good service pretty impossible, though the valiant servers did their best. I'm sure Whitney did, too, but this is a tough venue.The menu–an amuse-bouche of a Southern bread board with cornbread loaves, olive oil biscuits, butterbean hummus and honey; a first course of winter greens with buttermilk ricotta, roasted acorn squash, pear chunks and pomegranate seeds; a tower of French bread filled with Louisiana-style BBQ shrimp; and a pot roast wtih whipped turnips and cipollini onions–was true to the chef's Mississippi roots.
ChefDance really more about the party–an old-fashioned eighties-style bash–and the glitzy, occasionally celebrity studded, scene than the dining. This year, projections of images by South African photographer Norman Seeff, flashed on the walls and table-hopping commenced as soon as everyone was seated.
The whole thing wouldn't be possible without loads of help from local food purveyors Nicholas & Co., and this year, Justin Kinnaird, proprietor of Salt Lake's pop-up dinner club, By Invitation Only, was on board as well. If he sticks around, service may be better next year.
Oh, the musical entertainment was Kenny Loggins, who did show up, but we left before the music started, if it ever did.