Nata Gallery | SLC POP just blew our minds, and we feel certain that it'll exceed your expectations, too. For food and art. It's a bold -- and, quite frankly, damn clever -- collaboration effort by modern chefs, Mike Burtis and Katie Weinner. And we love it.
The Nata Gallery notion was put on our radar by friend, Dave Borba. In preparation, a few of us attended Anne Stephenson's show, which entailed both incredible photography and insatiable small bites. Naturally, we started the eager wait for the full SLC POP experience. So, so worth it. Ten [10!] courses of bliss in your mouth. BLT macaroons [indescribably melty]; a smoke-filled jar with a honey, goat-cheese-stuffed date and tahini-pomegranate molasses; coconut-chocolate cigar with tobacco panna cotta. Overheard while we dined: "This is the best food I've had in Salt Lake...ever". True dat. One of the most interesting, intimate, interactive, and delicious meals ever. The concept is extraordinary, and the chefs stunning. Read Katie's words, then go eat...
Was there a particular moment that you realized you wanted to be a chef? Slow evolution of realization. The more I cooked and learned, the better I wanted to be.
What type of food do you most identify with? The ingredients can be anything, but when we cook food for our guests that we really love, it all makes sense. It can be anything, but it depends on mood and place. Bad mood, incredible bread, and you forget why you were having such a bad day. Super hungry, then a slice of great pizza, and you feel better.
How would you describe your culinary style? Modern | International | Interactive | Different
What culinary process do you most enjoy? I'm a bit obsessed with research. I love seeing a dish that sparks an idea in my own culinary world. After the idea begins, I really love plating too. When you plate something beautiful that actually tastes incredible, it's quite the "ah-ha" moment!
What culinary process do you least enjoy? Making pie crust and dicing onions...tear.
What inspires you? Seasonality, travel, people, other great chefs (my partner Mike Burtis), books/blogs, ingredients, my students.
Who is your favorite celebrity chef? I actually Googled this...it's not something I think about. But when Julia Child popped up, I agreed with that one. Anthony Bourdain is entertaining too, now that I think about it.
What could you absolutely not live without? Bread. (and coffee!)
Describe yourself in 5 words: Dedicated | Passionate | Nerdy | Happy | Outgoing
Favorite place to which you've traveled? Paris, San Francisco, New York, Florence, Cinque Terre, Minnesota.
Share something funny that has happened to you recently. Honestly, every night we're at the gallery something funny happens. It could be Burtis busting out old-school hip-hop lyrics, Nancy (our FOH) wearing a sequin vest and shaking out a red rug (new nickname: Matador), or any one of us practicing our signature, "dance" moves. We truly have such an amazing crew (Grace and Nancy), and every night is something wonderful.
Is there a food that presents a challenge for you? Any meat that requires specific temperature cooking makes me a bit nervous. Also cakes! Baking a perfect cake is really hard some days.
What is the most versatile food item, in your opinion? Beets! Beet gnocchi, brownies, salt-baked, soil-baked, ravioli, borsch, and SO much more!
What is a typical day-in-the-life of Katie Weinner like, in terms of food? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, go. Morning is coffee or tea with oatmeal, toast, or chocolate-chip pancakes. Lunch is
a general grits club sandwich (or winter = ski = Snickers). Dinner on school nights is generally scraps from the afternoon class and/or a family meal at school. Dinner nights at Nata...Piehole and coffee.
Favorite thing you have ever eaten: loaded question. There were dishes at Alinea that rocked my world, but so did the deep dish pizza we had the night before! It's amazing how time and place affects this question. Sourdough crab sandwich in San Francisco sitting by the water, or Dosas Dim Sum and Congee in Vancouver...I think about those once a week.
Jobs for you? Other than a teacher and chef, that is. 5am-bagel maker at Bruegger's Bagel in MN; barista in Tahoe; snowboard instructor; payroll Squaw Valley Ski School; rental shop at Sugarbowl Resort; caterer; line cook; pastry chef Fiamma, Tahoe City.
Scariest culinary experience you've ever had? Losing power on New Year's Eve and having to close the restaurant. Since it's one of the biggest nights of revenue, it was pretty sad. We took lobster tails, champagne, and filet, and had a living room picnic at our house in the dark; one of the best non-working holidays I've had!
If you could cook a meal for anyone, who would it be? I just wish my dad was still around to see what I've created. He died of cancer about a year ago. Having him dine at Nata Gallery would be a dream come true. He would think a lot of the food is really weird, but I know he'd love the concept and be really proud.
Is SLC POP Salt Lake City's best kept secret [we think 'yes', but we're about to out you]. Yes! I feel like we've created something so unique, but because we rely solely on social media and amazing local word of mouth (you guys), it's a hard message to get across. Plus, I can talk 'til I'm blue in the face, but until you dine with us, you'll never really 'get it'. If you love food and dining out, you have to come eat with us. It really is one of the best meals in SLC...
Describe Nata Gallery | SLC POP in 5 words: Unique | Interactive | Fun | Memorable | Yum
Tell us what is on the horizon for you: Dinners! We are trying to get in as many Saturdays as possible. Scheduled dinners so far: February 16th & 23rd, March 2nd & 16th.
Anne Stephenson will be having another art showing on February 22nd. Open house format 7-9pm where you can see the space, meet the chefs, eat some free food, and sip some tasty beverages. Anne's artwork transforms digital food images onto wooden cutting boards through a transfer medium. Also we love to host private parties. There will be cooking classes and other culinary events in April, so make sure you're on our Nata Gallery Facebook page, and signed up for our SLC POP newsletter as well! We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or 801.810.7074.
*Big news: Mike Burtis, my partner at Nata Gallery, is getting ready to go to NOMA in Denmark. This amazing spot was voted the world's best restaurant, and he will cook there from April to July. I'll still be doing dinners, cooking classes and private parties, but I am so excited and proud that he's training with the best.