Swan Song: Mandy Says Good Bye

By Mandy Jeppsen

Food writer Mandy Jeppsen reminisces about chefs, restaurants and good food as she says good bye to Utah.
-by Mandy Jeppsen
jeppsen_byebye.jpgMy relationship to food has been a strange one lately. Another pregnancy has forced me to search beyond taste and texture, beyond my regular comfort foods – instead exploring the realm of "absolutely nothing looks edible, and I might hurl right now if you offer me another french fry." Yippee. As a food-loving person accustomed to eating almost anything that suits my fancy, this is a shock to the system. But, I've decided it's fate.

Last month, my husband accepted a job in northern Maryland at a computer gaming company. We'll be moving at the end of July, and somehow, my pregnancy-induced food sickness has helped lessen the blow. I'm leaving the place where I was born, my hometown. Saying sayonara to the friendly city of salt where I can go to a coffee shop or to the grocery store and expect to see someone I know – sharing a hug and a quick catch-up chat. Yes, leaving friends and family behind will be the worst of it-not to mention that I will lose my status as the Catalyst food writer.

My memory returns to the day I first stepped into the Catalyst office, meeting the vivacious Greta about whom I had heard so many amazing stories already. I was so shy at the time, I couldn't have envisioned that I'd end up working at Catalyst, or being a culinary writer. Over the years, I have met some of Salt Lake's finest and most intriguing chefs and restaurateurs. I have been honored to chat with them and to enjoy their food. Memorable for both the cuisine and their personality are Lucy Cardenas at Red Iguana, Ricc Esparza at Urban Bistro,  Takashi Gibo from, of course, Takashi, Ali Sabbah at Mazza, Denise Cerreta and Dan Cantu at One World Cafe, Timothy Garling, former Shallow Shaft executive chef, Doug Nassar of Cafe Med, Therese Martin at Carlucci's, Paul Maurer at Avenues Bakery, Ian Brandt of Sage's Cafe and Vertical Diner, Mark and Kileen Alston at The Bayou-the list goes on and on. As I remember these interviews, I am struck by the quality of Salt Lake's cuisine, and also by the fact that even though I'll be close to a larger metropolitan area, with wonderful new food possibilities to enjoy, I will miss these local restaurants.

Well, I will miss a lot of things about Salt Lake City.

Thank you Greta, thank you Catalyst staff (all of you, current and former, whom I adore-you know who you are). You have nurtured me as a writer, as an artist and as a mother (I will never forget all the love, support and fabulous food you fed me while pregnant with my firstborn, Sam.) But, don't write me off completely. You are all part of my family here. I'll be back to visit-and to take you out for dinner and a toast to friendship and food.

Mandy Jeppsen has been a CATALYST staffer, and then a contributing writer, since 2003. Sam was our fifth office baby. Mandy's "be true" attitude grounded and supported us, and her words delighted us. We will miss you so!

This article was originally published on June 28, 2007.