(Salt Lake City) Kerry W. Gibson has resigned his position as Commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, effective immediately, to run for Congress in Utah’s 1st Congressional District.
Gibson told a gathering of UDAF employees today that he and his family did not come by this decision easily. Ultimately the deciding factor was the opportunity to serve Utah’s farmers and ranchers in a far-reaching way at a national level, he said.
“My vision for this agency has always been that we are a service organization with regulatory responsibilities,” Gibson said.
“Politicians will tell you their foreign policy or monetary policy, but we don’t have nearly enough discussions about food policy,” Gibson added.
Gibson took over as UDAF Commissioner in mid-April 2019, following former Commissioner LuAnn Adams’ retirement.
Gibson’s resignation is effective immediately. The Governor will appoint an interim manager for the Department of Agriculture and Food.
Linda Clark Gillmor
(Salt Lake City) – In keeping with Commissioner Kerry Gibson’s vision for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) to act as “a service organization with regulatory responsibilities,” Gibson is pleased to announce an expanded focus to include economic development.
“We are going to put a laser focus on the financial health and viability of farmers and ranchers across the state,” he said. “We’ll work with industry partners as well as state, federal and non-profit organizations to find opportunities for Utah’s farmers and ranchers to strengthen the financial viability of their businesses.”
To lead out on this effort, UDAF is pleased to announce the recent addition of Linda Clark Gillmor, as the new director of “Marketing & Agricultural Economic Development.”
Linda has a lifetime of experience in agriculture production, product marketing and economic development. She and her husband, Jamie Gillmor, raised sheep and four children on their farms and desert permits near Delta and their summer lands near Morgan.
In 2001, the Gillmor’s founded Morgan Valley Lamb, LLC, a marketing company created to sell locally-grown lamb to grocery stores and high-end restaurants. Linda also served as the economic development director for Millard County in 2007 and was asked to be the director of the Office of Rural Development at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development in 2015.
“I am excited for this opportunity to work with the UDAF and our partners to create a strategy for strengthening our agricultural sector,” says Gillmor. “As parts of our state see record economic growth and skyrocketing land prices, now more than ever our farming and ranching families need to find ways to remain viable in order to provide fiber and food for Utah’s growing population.”
It’s been a whirlwind week visiting the wonderful world of chocolate making in Utah. A special shout out to all those companies who hosted and delighted us with their chocolate and other creations. Utah truly is a chocolate mecca and our only wish is that we could have visited all of them. But the upshot is that YOU can conduct your own chocolate tour and discover what we missed. Again, Utah is home to more than 30 chocolate confectioners and bean-to-bar producers. There is something for everyone here, not only in Utah but across the world. We’ll list them all again at the bottom.
Our final stop on the Tour was at Ritual Chocolate in Park City. This bean-to-bar roaster’s store had one of the richest smells of all our visits. The store was packed and bustling with activity as patrons were parked for one of their many delightful hot drinks while others browsed their product line of bars. All were mesmerized by their open-view, small-batch manufacturing process that we got our own little private tour of. Their backend operations followed the pattern of classic European processes where each stage is managed independently. They like it that way and maintain that it’s the secret to their success.
Founded in 2010 by Robbie Stout and Anna Davies, Ritual’s mission is to produce exceptional quality chocolate while celebrating the complexity of the cacao bean. No added flavors are necessary as their chocolate is an authentic expression of the flavor unique to each bean’s source. If you are in Park City, drop in and you won’t be disappointed – Robbie and Anna are wonderful hosts and love talking chocolate with their customers.
And check out Utah Chocolate Societies’ Chocolate Fascination Podcast
As the Chocolate Tour of Utah continues I am struck by how each chocolatier has its own little spin on this sweet treat I have enjoyed but largely taken for granted. Chocolate itself varies in subtle ways and we’ve enjoyed the different flavors and tastes. But it’s the magic each company puts into their product, the spirit of entrepreneurialism, that is so vibrant and colorful with each visit. Today, we made a trip down to Lehi to see the unique spin of Just Add Chocolate, but we also invited in Deziria Chocolate to drop by and say hello to the UDAF team and share with us his expansive vision of taking chocolate to the world.
What a fun and creative little store! Just Add Chocolate is fitting because of the wide selection of things they just add chocolate too. Their chocolate tastes will make you smile, but the names they have given each of their creations will make you laugh. For example, Kevin Bacon (chocolate-covered bacon), Elvis Pretzel (chocolate-covered pretzel), Wheel of Good Fortune (chocolate covered fortune cookies), or how about something heavenly such as the Hill Cumorah (chocolate-covered Twinkie) or the Temple Squares (chocolate squares with temple imprints). And they go a step further by offering interesting and fun specialty chocolate dipping classes where small groups, families, or dates can pay a modest fee for 90 minutes of some hands-on academics. Just Add Chocolate has two locations – one in Provo and one in Lehi. As such, much of Utah County has already heard about them, but they are worth the extra drive from parts yonder to experience this fun and tasty experience.
Growing up in Germany instilled Seyhan Bozkurt and Oniz Birsoy with a deep appreciation of quality chocolate. But after moving to the United States, they couldn’t find chocolate that lived up to their expectations at a price point everyone could enjoy. Determined to share their love of chocolate, the husband and wife team fine-tuned a combination of farms, ingredients, processing, packaging, and trade to create the most desired flavor of chocolate for all. Today, you can find Deziria Chocolate on the shelves of a growing number of grocery stores in Utah and beyond, including Walmart and Pacific Foods. While Deziria’s processing has been temporarily moved overseas, he has plans underway to re-establish his manufacturing in Logan in 2020.
For day three of the Chocolate Tour of Utah, we started out a little off-course thinking we were looking for The Chocolate Cottage downtown and not where they really were out in Sandy (my bad). But once we arrived – we had truly arrived! After that, we made our way back into Salt Lake and over to Millcreek Cacao, yet another bean-to-bar maker that is making waves in Utah.
Under their current owner, Kimberly Smart, Chocolate Cottage has thrived for the last 15 years. Prior to that, Chocolate Cottage was owned for many years by the Snellgrove family who had built up a great reputation for their large variety of dipped confections. Today, Kimberly proudly states, “As cheesy as it sounds, I bought the store so I could put smiles on people’s faces.” We fell instantly in love with her grape chocolates – so refreshing and a wonderful complement to the chocolate-covered strawberries. While there taste her toffee – you will be amazed and how much softer and easier they are to bite into than most toffees. Lastly, the seafoam! Oh, the seafoam! If you like seafoam, this is guaranteed to be the best you’ve ever had. Run, don’t walk to Chocolate Cottage when down in the Sandy area.
Everyone likes a well-oiled machine when it comes to production, and when it comes to farm-to-bar chocolate you want a really clean process and system. Millcreek Cacao does just that, using state of the art equipment that is well maintained and calibrated to produce a delicious treat for dark chocolate aficionados. And another cool feature with Millcreek, who sources their beans from Ecuador and Nicaragua, is their exclusive use of heirloom-certified cacao, certified by the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative. The goal of the HCP is to preserve, protect and propagate fine flavor cacao. This means sustainable agriculture as well as the development of a better product. The result is rich, delicious chocolate in the form of chocolate bars, chocolate in bulk, roasted cacao nibs, hot cocoa, cacao tea, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and more.