Fiana Bistro: Majoring in Food!

Chefs Chaz & Brandon from Fiana Bistro

Chefs Chaz & Brandon from Fiana Bistro

What an honor to meet Chaz and Brandon and write a feature for their Bistro–Fiana at the University of Utah. Link to article here.

College memories get better with time. The fun experiences—athletic events, social activities and spontaneous road trips—are what we remember, replacing our memories of stressful project deadlines, final exams and overall anxiety. Sadly, one memory that often remains is of raiding vending machines or trying to find a meal among bad student-union options.

Well, now, more than a decade later, I’m returning to the University of Utah—not for an advanced degree or a football game, but for Fiana Bistro.

Fiana is the brainchild of Brandon Price and Chaz Costello, two creative culinary minds who opened the bistro in the Sorenson Biotechnology Building in late 2012.

This isn’t a place where you have to settle for processed options. You have your choice of freshly made pizzas, sandwiches, salads and daily specials. Get that sandwich on a baguette, brioche, French-style sourdough or whole-wheat bread studded with fennel and caraway; all breads are made in-house, even the pizza dough.

Fiana New York Doll Pizza

Fiana also gets 70 percent of its vegetables—radishes, sorrel, heirloom tomatoes, kale, chard and more—right on campus, from the Sustainability Resource Center. These veggies provide freshness that you might not typically associate with campus food. The Kale Caesar salad is packed with flavor—recently picked kale sprinkled with Parmesan in a creamy dressing—and paired well with the New York Doll pizza, with pepperoni, roasted red peppers, onions and fresh mozzarella.

Price and Costello have made Fiana a destination eatery on campus, not just something you rush through before your next class. It’s working-class gourmet: affordable, high-quality, unprocessed, from scratch and hyper-local. Even if you’ve earned your degree, it’s time to return to the U—for studies of the culinary variety.

FIANA BISTRO
36 S. Wasatch Drive
435-671-7158
Facebook.com/FianaBistro

 Fiana on Urbanspoon

I’m Doing What I’m Fearing and The Fearing is Disappearing

Since I was a little kid I have been able to Swim; at least a loose definition of the word. I could tread water, play in lakes, rivers, the ocean and swimming pools with little difficulty. Racing across a pool was fun because I often won and didn’t have to worry much about technique during short bursts.

However, There is one aspect of swimming that has bothered me for a while; That is the inability to swim any distance of note. I would kick my way, breath my way (which entailed bringing my whole head out of the water). It was all thrown together with how I have done things for a long time-I was on the cow path.

For a while I have been desperate to improve my swimming but I thought that since I was in my mid-30’s, then what was the point? I intended to improve but it was one of those goals that I would get to when I had time.

In early July of 2013 I took my daughter swimming at a local recreation center. I picked up a flyer for “Swimming Lessons for All Ages.” The next day I called the number. Someone called me back in a couple days and I signed up for 3 lessons; the first one being that Saturday.

To say I was nervous would be an understatement. My teacher was 13 years younger than me and was a State High School Swim Champion. He didn’t want to know much about me. Just told me to jump in the pool and show him what I got.

I practiced hard for each one of those lessons. Here I was paying $25 per half hour to have him coach me. I prayed that the 30 minutes would go by fast. I was usually exhausted after 10 minutes but found the strength to continue. After a few minutes in the pool with him giving instructions, you were afraid that you would drown. Towards the end of the lesson, you were afraid you wouldn’t drown.

Now it is 1 year later and swimming is what I often do for exercise. I love it! All those years of wanting to do this and nothing happened until I pick up the phone and took the first step.

There are some beautiful opportunities in life if we take the first step.

Vito’s: A Philly on Picturesque Main Street

It was an honor to meet Vito and write about his restaurant. Link to article here; also posted below.

Vito's Exterior

Often, it’s the simplest things in life that work their way to greatness. Vito Leone started as a Bountiful street vendor in 2007, serving meatball subs, sausage sandwiches and ravioli from a food cart. Eventually, he started appearing at farmers markets and graduated to a 20-foot trailer. Leone now has a permanent location on Bountiful’s picturesque Main Street.

But even with the brick & mortar location, Leone is still the man behind the counter, calling many of his customers by name, taking orders and cooking them up himself. He can serve you 10 different types of Philly sandwiches: blue cheese, cream cheese, deluxe, tomato, mushroom, jalapeño, garlic, Alfredo, Italian and classic. You can choose between 7-inch ($8.50) or 14-inch ($13.50); both options come with chips and a drink.

Philly Cheese at Vito's

I had the classic Philly, with thin-sliced steak, powerful peppers, onions and Swiss-blend cheese all melting onto a stoneground Tuscan roll. It was a lesson in excellence.

One other example of Leone staying true to that old-school sensibility is his low-tech cash box on the counter. There are no checks or cards taken here—it’s the Vito Leone way, which he’s followed for years because it’s worked for him. He wants to focus on food and leave the business side to us.

If you walk in and find your wallet short of cash, don’t worry. The on-site ATM is well used—because once you smell the aroma, there’s no way you are going to want to turn around and leave.

VITO’S
100 S. Main, Bountiful
801-953-8486

Vito's on Urbanspoon

Unplugged

Camping

For years now, when my wife has inquired about going camping, I told her that we didn’t develop and progress in society so that we could return to living like cavemen. We all grow up and mature however and now that I am 36, I hope she has forgiven me and that a recent camping trip renewed her faith in me.

In April we went on a trip to Southern California; this was the first trip with 2 kids. The planning, packing, organizing, getting to the airport, getting through security, getting on the plane, finding the rental car, driving to the condo, unpacking, shopping, trying to relax and turning around and doing it all again 6 days later was exhausting. My wife even said, “now I know why my Parents hated vacations.” Still fielding calls and e-mails during the trip made us feel like we weren’t even away.

Still wanting to travel more but not exactly knowing what to do, our prayers were answered when my brother-in-law and his family asked us if we wanted to go camping in late June. We were excited, and relied on them heavily. They are expert campers and without their equipment, we could not have done it. There was still packing and organizing to do but overall, much less details to handle.

From our home in Salt Lake City to the campsite it was only 55 miles. The last 11 miles was dirt road. While driving on that dirt road I illegally checked my cell phone (new law) and saw something that I had not seen in years. In the top left hand corner of the screen it read, “NO SERVICE.” What? how will I manage my life? We always recognize what we cling to as comfort when it is no longer there.

It was an enjoyable 3 days of small hikes, food, kayaking and overall relaxing. The cool summer air was refreshing. Not checking my phone every few minutes also became refreshing. There was nothing to do but let go; so I did just that.

When I was back in cell phone range on Monday, a bunch of texts appeared, a few voicemails, lots of e-mails-most of them junk and my calendar of appointments. But you know what was weird? The world was still turning; it did not end. Somehow I was still me; and I was HAPPY, actually rejuvenated. I haven’t felt that in a long time.

A friend of mine runs an insulation company. One day he inadvertently disabled his e-mail on his smartphone around 10:00am. He didn’t realize the problem until 3:00pm. When he was able to reconnect, he found out that there was a crisis, and that someone else had taken care of it.

We, or I should say I, have an addiction to being overstimulated. I feel like something is wrong if I don’t have 6 things screaming at me at once. We get smartphones to be more connected and then we become our own monsters when we condition everyone that we will be accessible 24/7. Why can’t people leave me alone? Because I taught them that I am always there.

On any other vacation, works just rolls right into it. Every few minutes, I would still check my phone. This camping trip taught me that we need boundaries. You can be accessible all the time but should you be? When we do 6 things at once, we fail at all of them. It took me living like a caveman to come to peace with myself, and only a few minutes back in cell service to let the insanity return.

Here’s to Unplugging often.

Happy Living

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