UVU Serves Up a Tantalizing Feast

Each spring Utah Valley University thanks its biggest donors at an Appreciation Banquet. The UVU Culinary Arts Institute prepares a delicious feast for those who have given generously to support UVU students, programs, and faculty. This year, on March 29, donors got to do more than just savor delicious cuisine. They saw how it was made. And in a special twist, each course was inspired by an award-winning plate created by a UVU student.

Food ignites in a pan while being flambéed.

Chef Todd C. Leonard, chair of the Culinary Arts Institute, and Mary Crafts-Homer, president and CEO of Culinary Crafts, headlined the event. They were joined in a cooking demonstration by UVU student Michelle Stephenson, who was named Student Chef of the Year at the 2016 American Culinary Federation’s national convention.

Guests enjoyed a first course of pan-seared Arctic char with char mousseline-stuffed crepe, dill crème fraiche, sauté of kale and bacon, petit spring greens, and citrus vinaigrette — a version of the plate Stephenson created to clinch the national championship. 

The main course was braised riblet-filled potato boule, spring vegetable purée, broccolini and vegetable medley, natural jus, and herb oil. This dish was inspired by UVU alumna Lyn Wells’s gold medal-winning plate at the 2014 Ment’or Young Chef Competition.

blood orange gelée dessert

Dessert was blood orange gelée, pistachio dacquoise, orange brûlée tartlet, and orange mango fluid gel. This dish was inspired by the plate created by UVU’s gold medal-winning student team at the 2014 American Culinary Federation Regionals.

Each guest received recipes for everything they were served, as well as a special gift of a dozen original recipes created by Chef Todd and Mary Crafts-Homer. Chef Todd brings experience as executive chef for Thrive Life, Blue Lemon, and the Joseph Smith Building. He has won seven gold medals from the American Culinary Federation, has been named Utah Chef of the Year twice, and was named Regional Chef of the Year. He has won first place in three International Dutch Oven Society competitions and received the ACT Chef Professional Award.

Mary Crafts-Homer, who serves on UVU’s Foundation Board, started Culinary Crafts in 1984. Her company is the largest off-premise caterer in Utah. It has won dozens of awards, including being named Best of State 12 times and Caterer of the Year by the International Caterers Association. Crafts-Homer has twice been named Outstanding Businesswoman of the Year by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce and one of 30 Women to Watch by Utah Business magazine. She also received the Kirk Englehardt Excellence in Business Ethics Award from the UVU Center for the Study of Ethics.