LOCAL NEWS

Two Salt Lake City chefs named finalists for James Beard Award

Apr 6, 2024, 9:46 PM | Updated: 9:54 pm

SALT LAKE CITY Two chefs in Salt Lake City have been named as finalists for a James Beard Award: Nick Zocco, executive chef at Urban Hill, and Ali Sabbah, chef and owner of Mazza.

The two are finalists for Best Chef in the Mountain Region which includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah.

“It’s incredible,” said Zocco.

While he has been working in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years, this is Zocco’s first nomination.

“I honestly have been super humbled by the whole thing,” Zocco said. “All that hard work has come to fruition in a sense.”

Urban Hill

Urban Hill, located in downtown Salt Lake City, has only been open for 16 months. Zocco said he and his team have put in a lot of work into the restaurant, trying hard to put make their customers experience worthwhile.

Two chefs in Salt Lake City have been named as finalists for a James Beard Award: Nick Zocco, executive chef at Urban Hill, and Ali Sabbah, chef and owner of Mazza. (Brianna Chavez, KSL TV)

“We’ve sacrificed a lot of our years to be in the hospitality industry, the hours are long, (we) work holidays,” he said. “So, something like this sort of like sets the tone of (and) it’s a rewarding  opportunity for us and myself.”

Mazza

Mazza, an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant located in the 15th and 15th neighborhood, has been open since 2000. Sabbah was also a finalist for the award last year, which is a first for Utah.

“I feel very honored that I was chosen,” Sabbah said. “But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who absolutely do (a) phenomenal job.”

Both chefs said the food scene in Utah is growing and are glad to see Utah getting nationally recognized.

“Now you have you have ethnic food from all over the world and that to me is fun,” Sabbah said.

The winners will be announced this this summer in Chicago.

For a complete list of finalists, click here.

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Two Salt Lake City chefs named finalists for James Beard Award