Food prep, merchandise prep as Utah prepares to host All-Star game
Feb 9, 2023, 7:35 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2023, 1:32 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — Everyone likes good food.
Whether it’s a main course, a side dish, or a snack, the tastier the better. But even the best chef can feel a little pressure when it comes time to feed the best basketball players in the world.
“The food has got to be perfect. It has been perfect and that’s my job,” Travis Taylor said.
He has been in charge of good food for many big events.However, the NBA All-Star Game with the athletes, celebrities, and fans is something most chefs will never get to do.
“There’s pressure for sure, but you know what? It’s really, the end result is really rewarding.”
Taylor is the executive chef for Salted Honey Hospitality, that works with the Utah Jazz to provide food for its home games. For the All-Star game, he and the team didn’t want to provide food people can get just anywhere. They wanted to show off what Utah has to offer from local places, like Cupbop, J-Dawgs, and Iceberg. That food will be available to fans in concessions, luxury suites, and VIP areas.
There will still be more high-end options, but Taylor said combining the two will show Utah’s food scene is growing from the last time Salt Lake City hosted the All-Star game in 1993. It’s not just funeral potatoes, green Jell-O, and fry sauce anymore.
“We are well beyond that now,” he said with a laugh. “Salt Lake City is an up-and-coming city, right? It’s the fastest growing city. We have got amazing restaurant partners here and what better to tell the story than to bring all these restaurant partners into this building for 18,000 fans to experience.”
He has brought in 80 chefs, who are putting in more than 7,000 combined hours to get ready for the big event.
“We are putting in a lot. I turned off my step meter on my phone because I got tired of looking at it,” Taylor with said another laugh. “When I am tired and I get home, I know I’m tired. I don’t need this thing to tell me that I have walked a lot.”
Long hours are also what Parker Bushnell and his team are working. He is the director of retail with Rank + Rally, a company that is a merchandising partner with the Utah Jazz. His team is in charge of making sure all the merchandise for the All-Star game is stuff fans will want.
“Not a lot of people care about t-shirts probably in the way that I do,” Bushnell said with a smile. His team has been working for more than a year on designs and souvenirs.
One item he thinks will be popular is a hat with the brim featuring the Salt Lake City skyline. He said it’s important to have a little slice of Utah in as many items as possible.
“When somebody leaves the arena, there’s literally only one thing that people can leave with, and to memorialize or whatever it is,” he said. “Tickets are digital now. Food you put right into your belly, and it’s gone, right? And really the only thing you can have as a keepsake is a souvenir.”
Bushnell and Taylor said with as busy as they have been, they’re also doing their best to enjoy this moment now. It could be another 30 years before Utah gets the NBA All-Star game again.
“I am having a blast. This is awesome,” Taylor said. “What an honor to be part of the NBA All-Star weekend.”
For more KSL All-Star coverage, visit KSLTV.com/All-Star/.