Hearth and Hill and University of Utah Observatory launch an Astronomy Dinner

Stargazing event scheduled for Aug. 13

Jordan Harvey, Hearth and Hill executive chef, has planned the restaurant's inaugural Astronomy Dinner on Aug. 13 that will feature a locally sourced meal with stargazing tips from astronomers from the the University of Utah South Physics Observatory.
Photo by Carla Boecklin

Hearth and Hill will offer a trip to the stars with a meal during its first Astronomy Dinner, which will be held Friday, Aug. 13, at the Avalanche Ranch and Yurt in Oakley.

The cosmic event will feature a family-style dinner and an interactive presentation by astronomers from the University of Utah South Physics Observatory, said Hearth and Hill Executive Chef Jordan Harvey.

“We wanted to create an experience that was educational and fun, and something you wouldn’t ordinarily do on a Friday night in August,” said Harvey, who conceived of the dinner’s concept and menu. “When we talk about what Hearth and Hill can do as a restaurant, wine usually comes up, so we wanted to branch out and do something more family friendly.”

The night will begin with an assortment of appetizers, which will be followed by a dinner that will include heirloom tomatoes, wild greens salad, corn, watermelon, broccoli slaw, green coriander crusted trout, coal-fired bison ribeye and an astronaut ice cream bar.

In addition, two specialty cocktails and wine by the glass will be available for purchase for the adults.

“We wanted to cook to the weather, which means we didn’t want to create any heavy dishes when it’s 80 degrees out at sunset,” Harvey said. “We wanted to make it fresh and lighter, considering it is the middle of August.”

Much, if not all, of the produce will be harvested from Ranui Gardens, which is located next door to Avalanche Ranch, according to Harvey.

The idea for the coal-fired ribeye came from a Native American dish, he said.

“In talking with other local residents, we learned about a dish where we would cook marinated strips of buffalo directly on the coals, and then put the strips back in the marinade and do it again,” Harvey said.

The astronaut ice cream bar will utilize liquid nitrogen, and feature space-themed garnishes, he said.

“We are still working out some of the details, but we will include some meteorite chunks and Saturn ring dust,” Harvey said.

After dinner, the astronomers will give their presentation.

“When the sun goes down, they will identify some of the different celestial bodies in the sky, and show us how to identify them with the naked eye,” Harvey said. “They will also have telescopes set up and teach us what to expect when we look through the telescopes at these bodies.”

Harvey is grateful to the observatory for participating in the dinner.

“I lucked out, because they were willing to entertain the idea of coming all the way out to a dinner in Oakley, and show everybody what is in our neighborhood skies,” he said.

In case of inclement weather, the dinner will be moved inside a horse barn, located on the ranch.

“We always have to have a bad-weather plan, so the barn will be swept out, and the horses will be put in their stables so we can set up the table along the middle of the barn,” Harvey said.

The Astronomy Dinner was originally planned for last year, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Hearth and Hill co-owner Brooks Kirchheimer.

“So we’re really excited to be able to host it this year,” he said. “Since it will be outside, it will be in a safe environment for those who are looking to stay healthy. And we believe we’ve been one of the premier restaurants in terms of keeping our guests safe throughout the pandemic.”

Another thing that contributed to hosting the dinner this year was the cancelation of the Park City Restaurant Association’s Savor the Summit, an outdoor summer celebration of local eateries that features a mile-long dining table on Main Street, Kirchheimer said.

“This is a different event, but similar in that it features dinner on a long table, and it’s outdoors,” he said.

The Astronomy Dinner is also another way for Hearth and Hill to offer a unique dining experience for patrons.

“As co-owner of the restaurant, I think it’s cool to have a chef like Jordan, who is super creative, not only from a culinary standpoint, but who also comes up with unique ideas like this one,” Kirchheimer said. “Jordan is behind our Hip-Hop Lunches, and he came up with the idea of doing a ’50s car show-themed brunch a month ago in our back parking lot.”

Harvey, who has been Hearth and Hill’s executive chef since the restaurant opened in 2018, enjoys flexing his creative muscles when it comes to dinners and themes.

“There are not many places I’ve worked where ideas like this come to fruition,” he said. “I appreciate that I’m allowed to do things that are outside of a restaurant’s four walls.”

Hearth and Hill’s Astronomy Dinner

When: 5:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 13

Where: Avalanche Ranch and Yurt, 4741 N. 1000 E. Boulderville Road, Oakley

Phone: 435-200-8840



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