Salt Lake City remains without a James Beard-winning restaurant

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National food organizations continued snubbing Utah’s culinary scene on Monday when a prestigious organization passed up two Salt Lake City chefs for a major award.

Mazza chef Ali Sabbah and Urban Hill chef Nick Zocco had both been named nominees for the prestigious James Beard best chef award this year.

The award is considered among the highest honors in the restaurant world, and while multiple Utah-based chefs and restaurants have been nominated, none have taken home the prize.

On Monday night, judges passed up Sabbah and Zocco to award the honor to Matt Vawter, a chef based in Breckenridge, Colorado, as the best chef in the mountain states region.

Sabbah had been nominated before for his popular restaurant serving Middle Eastern cuisine in the 15th & 15th neighborhood.

Zocco is leading the restaurant that has become an anchor for the newly built Post District, just south of Downtown.

Utah is also without any Michelin-starred restaurants, which intend to guide diners to restaurants that are worth traveling short or long distances to. (The local food magazine Gastronomic SLC recently laid out some of the reasons why that might be the case.)

While Salt Lake City’s local food and bar scenes haven’t yet won national praise, nominations alone are considered good indicators of some of the best spots the town has to offer.

Previously, Valter’s Osteria had been named a semi-finalist for best in hospitality nationwide. Table X, in Millcreek, was a contender for outstanding bakery nationwide. Both didn’t move on to the latest round and won’t be among the winners. Bar Nohm chef David Chon and Log Haven chef Dave Jones had also been recognized by the foundation.

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Posted by Taylor Anderson

Taylor Anderson grew up near Chicago and made his way West to study journalism at the University of Montana. He's been a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune, Bend Bulletin and Salt Lake Tribune. A move from Portland, Oregon, to Salt Lake City opened his eyes to the importance of good urban design for building strong neighborhoods. He lives on the border of the Liberty Wells and Ballpark neighborhoods.