Vendor Spotlight – Culinary Crafts

This week’s vendor spotlight offers catering services that are second to none.  They have 21 Best of State awards, several Catie awards, and they’re one of my favorite vendors in the wedding and event industry.  My name’s Michael Tobian, and this is the Utah Live Bands’ Vendor Spotlight of the Week: Culinary Crafts

Mike: Hey guys, how are you doing?

Kaleb: Good Mike, we’re doing awesome, good to have you here.

Mike: Good.  Looks like you guys are just finishing lunch.

Kaleb: We had a little wine and cheese tasting. We were talking about pairing wine and cheese on video just a few seconds ago.

Mike: Well because of the pandemic we shan’t shake hands but it’s good to see you guys.  Culinary Crafts has been a great friend to Utah Live Bands over the years, it was started by your mother Mary, whom we know very well.  In fact we produced the wedding entertainment for her daughter’s wedding, your sister.  So we’ve had a great relationship with you guys over the years.  You guys have acquired the business from your mother, tell us what you guys have been up to since the acquisition a couple years ago.

Kaleb: Yeah, having a blast really!  

Ryan: Aside from the pandemic…

Kaleb: Yeah the pandemic is not so fun for the catering and hospitality industry.  

Mike: Pros and cons with that.

Kaleb: We started a buy-out my mom in 2013 and the three of us were partners from 2013 to 2018, and then we bought the last of her shares in 2018 and have been trying to keep the family legacy going and having fun doing it.

Ryan: In some ways it’s just more of the same: we’re cooking food, we’re loading trucks, we’re setting up tables, we’re grilling trout, we’re grilling steak, and we’re cleaning it all up afterwords.  But in some ways it is a whole new animal. Utah has grown a lot over the last several years and the event industry has been right at the head of that.  Until this year it was a great industry to be in.

Kaleb: It was a good industry to be in!

Ryan: A good industry in a good state to be doing business in.  We did a new website, new logo, rebranded a lot of things, rewrote our mission and vision statements to try and keep the legacy from the first generation but put a stamp of the second generation very uniquely on it.  So it’s been fun.

Kaleb: And this year’s been interesting for us for sure, with the covid pandemic.  We’ve been having to pivot a little bit and do some different things.  So we’ve been doing date nights up in the mountains where we’ll sell tickets and do a little dinner,

Mike: At 4U Ranch, right?

Kaleb: Yep, so we had dinner up there at 4U.  We’ve been doing meals to go, we did a Mother’s Day Brunch where we deliver it to you, drop it off on your door step and away we go.  Just different things like that to keep our guys working right now during a time when catering is pretty slim. But catering’s starting to come back, people are ready to get together, and we’re doing some small gatherings now of 25-50 and hopefully that increases.  And hopefully by next year this is all just like a bad dream.

Ryan: In some ways this summer’s been really fun!  

Kaleb: More free time.  

Mike: There are silver linings.

Ryan: Certainly the finances have been tough, but last year we were so busy we did over 1,000 parties last year, if someone called and said “I want to do a little cheese and chocolate education night for 12 people” we would have had to turn them down.  But now we’re all over that!  

Kaleb: “Did you say 12 people?  Together in one room?!  We’ll do it!”

Ryan: And so then we get to get together with a small group, it’s intimate, we get to talk food, and we just get to hang out and those are my favorite kind of parties.  Last year we were just too busy for most of them, this year we’ve got plenty of time.  So it’s really fun.

Mike: There are some really beautiful silver linings that have accompanied the disaster.

Kaleb: There are.

Mike: So your recent acquisition was just a couple years ago but you guys have been involved in the company for a long time.

Kaleb: Yeah, other than a stint as a BYU night janitor this is really the only professional work that I’ve ever known.

Ryan: I worked on a horse ranch shoveling manure, and other than that it’s been mostly grilling steaks.

Mike: So the company’s in good hands.  Would you give us a tour?

Kaleb: Sure!  We’ll throw some masks on to go into the kitchen real quick and then away we go.

Mike: Great, take us where we need to go.

Ryan: So this is the kitchen, this is where all the raw product comes in and this is where the food is prepped.  And as kitchens go this is a pretty big kitchen, you can see we’ve got a lot of stuff and a lot of space. But believe it or not this is only a small drop of all of our total cooking equipment. Most of what we do gets prepped here, so the fish filets come in and they get trimmed, they get cleaned, they get marinated, but they get sent raw on ice to the job and then they get fired and plated wherever the job site is.  So we have even more cooking equipment that’s portable that goes to the trucks and gets moved around and we try to cook as much as we can on site just so that it’s as fresh as possible.  More like a restaurant.  

Mike: That’s amazing.

Kaleb: And this is really only half the kitchen here in this building because we actually have a bakery on the other side of this wall that’s the same size as this side.  That’s where we’re a little unique, all of our breads and our desserts are getting made from scratch fresh every day.  So we’re making bread dough every morning from scratch, sending all of our breads and desserts out every day.  

Ryan: We’re an event company and we’ll do anything anyone asks for but really at the heart of it we’re still a food company.  We’re very food centric and food driven.  We like to eat, we like to cook.

Kaleb: Let’s head out to the warehouse and take a look.

Kaleb: So this is the warehouse, this is where all the magic happens.  When we pull up to an event it’s almost like a clown cars pulling up.  You’ve got equipment and more equipment coming out of the trucks – we’ve got linens and drapes and elevations and serving utensils and plates and forks and beverage dispensers, really everything you could ever think of that you’d need for an event, it’s all right here in the warehouse.  The trucks pull in, they grab it, and away we go

Ryan: It’s a lot of gear, you have to set up a kitchen and a dining room just out of a truck every night.

Mike: Well it’s an impressive facility, you guys are impressive, you’ve always been impressive to us.  Ryan and Kaleb, thank you so much for joining us.

Kaleb: Thanks for having us, it’s our pleasure.

Mike: It’s our pleasure.

Ryan: Yeah thanks for coming.  

Mike: Thanks for joining us at the Utah Live Bands’ Vendor Spotlight and we’ll catch you next time.

Kaleb: Eat well.

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