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Sugar House Journal

Chefs on Parade offers a delicious look at new homes

Jul 03, 2019 14h58 ● By Jenniffer Wardell

Chefs cook in a brand new kitchen during the 2018 Chefs on Parade event. (Courtesy of the Salt Lake Home Builders Association)

By Jenniffer Wardell | [email protected]

Before the parade, there’s a party.

As a preview to the annual Salt Lake Parade of Homes, the Salt Lake Home Builders Association is holding their annual Chefs on Parade event July 31 from 5-9 p.m. This ticketed event opens up five Parade homes to the public before the event, with professional chefs staffing the kitchens. Guests get the opportunity to linger in each home, sampling the food and interacting with the builders. 

"It's unique," said Alicia Ackerman, coordinator for the Salt Lake Parade of Homes. "There's nothing like it around here."

Now in its third year, the event only releases the addresses of the participating homes to those who buy tickets. Builders host the participants in each home, coordinating with the chef and often providing entertainment such as musicians. 

"They try to make it an experience, so the people who come want to stay and enjoy it," said Leslie Shell, parade chairman. "It's a more relaxed environment. People don't feel rushed through the home."

Though the list of chefs for this year’s event haven’t been released, participants can expect an array of appetizers from each one.

“There isn’t enough in a single home to get full on,” said Jaren Davis, president of the Salt Lake Home Builders Association. “But if you’ve eaten at every home, you get quite satisfied.” 

At the end, participants vote on both the Best Chef and Best Experience award. According to Shell, those awards are a big draw to bring chefs back to the event each year. The Park City Culinary Institute, which won the audience award the first year, has been involved with the Parade every year since.

“We like to get new chefs, but at the same time it’s fun to get returning favorites,” she said. “People who won Best Chef want to have that title again.” 

The awards have also been known to draw builders back to the event as well. 

“Builders get pretty competitive about (the Best Experience Award),” Shell said. “They want it just as much as the chefs want theirs.”  

For builders, however, the event has plenty of challenges. 

"There's a lot of time and effort that goes into it on their end," Ackerman said. "They're already really busy and stressed out trying to get the home done for the Parade of Homes, and this is an earlier deadline."

Chefs on Parade is a relatively recent addition to the Salt Lake Parade of Homes, which started in 1946. According to Davis, organizers got the idea from a similar event held in the Tri-Cities area. 

“We’re typically the front runner for ideas,” he said. “Our parade of homes was the first in the country. So it’s kind of weird for us to steal an idea.” 

Over the years, however, they’ve worked to refine it. The event originally included eight homes, but organizers found that offering more actually diluted the experience for participants.  

"People couldn't see every home, because they spent so much time in each of the homes," Davis said. "You kind of learn as you go."

There are only 400 tickets available for Chefs on Parade, and they’re only sold to people who also buy tickets for the Parade of Homes. The event sold out last year, and Ackerman said she expects it will happen again. 

"It's growing in popularity," she said. "People tell their friends, but it's so well done and exciting that they also want to repeat their experience."

Though they’ve talked about stretching the event to cover two nights, she doesn’t think it will ever become as public as the Parade of Homes.

“I like that it’s an exclusive event,” Ackerman said. “It’s a fun date night opportunity.”