The SLC Foodie blog started off much like any other blog. It was a way for Becky and Josh Rosenthal’s friends to keep up with them on their travels and culinary adventures in their newly adopted home, Salt Lake City.
As the trajectory of the Salt Lake food scene rocketed upward, so did views for the Rosenthals’ humble blog. They saw an opportunity to help bolster Salt Lake’s bourgeoning restaurant community through their blog, and build their own brand at the same time.
The Rosenthals have since released a book, Salt Lake City Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Crossroads of the West, and they’ve even gone into the food business themselves with La Barba Coffee, a roaster and café.
We met up with Josh Rosenthal at La Barba to find out more about SLC Foodie’s formative years, and where to eat in Salt Lake City right now.
Tell us about the beginning of the SLC Foodie blog.
“Twitter was just starting to get big and Becky just grabbed that name. She wanted to show this place off. She wanted everyone to know that this city is way better than you might think. That was ’09.”
And that’s when things were starting to pop off here in Salt Lake. Places like Copper Onion, Pago and Forage opened.
“Yeah, when I talk to people about food, I jokingly say I’m of the Pago generation. Becky is more informed about what was happening before that, but for me it’s all about when Scott Evans opened Pago.
So yeah, back then we ate at Pago. We went to Copper Onion. A friend of ours got tenure at the University of Utah and wanted to go somewhere nice to celebrate and that’s when we went to Forage. We were blown away.
And that’s the story that Becky wanted to tell with SLC Foodie. Forage chefs Viet Pham and Bowman Brown are here but they’re world-class. Pago is here but they could just as easily do this somewhere else and it would still be good.”
Did you and Becky expect the SLC Foodie Blog to take off like it did?
“No. It was truly a labour of love. I was in music full-time. I was a singer-songwriter. Becky was doing freelance food marketing at the time. But yeah, it came about because we both loved Salt Lake. It killed us when people would come here and just complain about it.
If people came and saw the city for what it was, they would love it. There just weren’t a lot of people here showing it off. But there were a lot of people doing cool stuff.”
Was there a turning point for you, a moment when you realized you could make SLC Foodie more than just a blog?
“Matt Caputo was awesome. Once we started thinking about doing more, we emailed Matt and he responded. Matt, is a food geek and a marketing genius. And he gave us his time and practically money “” gift cards to Caputo’s, which was like gold to us “” to help him do promotions. It was the same with Liberty Heights, but that was later. We would do monthly grocery exchanges.
We never viewed ourselves as real journalists, I think that’s real important to say. We were just trying to hype the city. We knew so many people that would move here and we wanted them to be proud of this place, so we were just trying to get content out about why we thought it was cool. The goal was never to be an objective journalistic voice. If we were going to get groceries in exchange for a promotion, that never really bothered us.”
Let’s talk about the food scene today. What do you like? Where do you like to go for an occasion? Where do you go regularly?
“I love RYE. I think RYE is one of my favourite everyday places. It’s just a place I can always go to get some eggs. They do an awesome job with their scrambles. They also do a great job with their vegetarian stuff – It’s an incredible environment.
Finca. I know that seems bias. [Rosenthal’s coffee shop, La Barba is located in the same building.] But for the price point of their menu, it’s incredible.
Special occasion? Fresco. Becky and I have celebrated every anniversary at Fresco, literally our last seven anniversaries. Except our most recent one. We were in Italy celebrating our 10-year anniversary.”
What are your recommendations for where to eat in Salt Lake City? If you had to suggest places for breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner and drinks, where would you choose?
“I’m biased on the coffee, but I feel like we have a great European vibe at La Barba Coffee. Otherwise, The Rose Establishment is a good choice. If you really want to dig in like a local over breakfast, try The Park Café.
For lunch, I like Feldman’s, even though that’s not necessarily downtown, and for dinner I’d suggest Current for fresh fish and seafood, the Copper Onion for a relaxed meal, or omakase at Naked Fish – Scott Gardner also mixes up some great drinks here. If I could drink at Scott Gardner’s house, I’d be there.
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What do you think of SLC Foodie’s recommendations of where to eat in Salt Lake City? Have we left out any of your favourite restaurants and bars? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Billy Yang