Dinner and a Sundance movie

Want to get a meal and celebrity watch during the film festival? Make a reservation

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 17 2012 5:00 p.m. MST

"It probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, but we pulled it off, although it wasn't easy," he said. "Beginning on the 19th, we are booked out for the reservations that we take. There are always portions of the restaurant available to walk-ins, but we will probably have a wait beginning at 4 p.m. until 10 p.m."

A "guerilla" restaurant, The Mist Project, will be open from Jan. 19 to Feb. 19 at the former Metropolitan restaurant building, 173 W. Broadway. Guerilla restaurants are a trendy new breed of high-end eateries that exist for only a few weeks in a non-traditional location.

At the helm is Gavin Baker, former sous chef of London's The Fat Duck, one of the world's top-rated restaurants. Mist will offer 15 courses of Michelin-caliber cuisine for $150 (and an 18 percent gratuity added at the time of purchase). There are only 36 seats per night, and tickets must be purchased in advance at www.themistproject.com.

Mist is billed as "a multi-course, multi-sensory experience," that delves into the sophisticated cooking known as molecular gastronomy. Menu items include Crispy Pork Lollipop with Nitro "Dipping Dots" and Sunrise From My Plane Window, an "edible landscape" that is presented for the whole table to share. Local guest chefs who will take a turn in the kitchen are Ryan Lowder, Viet Pham of Forage, Colton Soelberg of Communal and Pizzeria 712, and Takashi Gibo of Takashi. Rebecca Millcan, Amano Chocolate's pastry chef and a competitor on Food Network Challenge, is overseeing the desserts.

Those whose tastes and budgets aren't in the $150-per-meal range can still capture some festival flavor at the Sundance Film Festival Café at the Beehive Tea Room, Jan. 20-28. Located at 12 W. Broadway, between the screening venues of Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center and Broadway theaters, the Café offers a spot for filmmakers and festival-goers to relax or continue conversation after a film. Live music is offered each night from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on the NowSaltLake.com Festival Stage. There is no entrance fee. Hot chocolate, coffee, chai, sweets, English scones, sandwiches, salads and soups are sold on www.beehivetearoom.com.

In Ogden, restaurants near Peery's Egyptian Theater also see a boost in traffic.

"We love Sundance!" said Kym Buttschardt, co-owner of Rooster's and Union Grill on Historic 25th Street. "I am always proud when guests are blown away at the quality of our beautifully restored theater and the Historic 25th Street dining options."

She's noticed an increase in groups who take the commuter rail from Salt Lake City. "It is a unique trip to ride Frontrunner to Ogden, stroll on 25th Street and then head to the theater."

She said the servers are in tune with the film schedules to help guests get to their movies on time.

"We've had producers and directors come in, many times for a quick bite while their film is being shown, and then be at the theater to discuss the film."

So what ritzy events are all of us non-celebs missing out on?

Chefdance is a tradition that evolved around the Festival, where different "celebrity" chefs were brought in to cook each night for about 250 of the entertainment industry's movers, shakers and their friends at Harry O's on Park City's Main Street. Although Harry O's closed earlier this year, the tradition goes on. This year, the chefs are Chad White and Jeff Bonilla of Sea Rocket Bistro in San Diego; Javier Plascencia of Mision 19 and Caesar's Restaurant in Tijuana; Hung Huynh, Season 3 Winner of Bravo's "Top Chef"; Donatella Arpaia, judge on the Food Network's "Iron Chef" and Elio Scanu, owner of Zucca in South Ogden. Scanu earned a spot at Chefdance by winning the Nicholas Foods-sponsored Utah Chef Competition.

Another invitation-only spot will be Bertolli Meal Soup Chalet at the Sky Lodge. Bertolli (makers of frozen Italian-style soups and dinners) will have visiting "talent" ladle bowls of soup and post their ladles on the "Ladles of Love" wall. For every ladle posted, $1,000 will be donated to Feeding America. Besides getting warm with soup, the celebrity guests can indulge in luxury skincare treatments courtesy of Lumene skincare, participate in interactive fun provided by Tic Tac Mints and view this season's newest sunglass offerings furnished by Solstice Sunglass Boutique and Safilo USA.

Valerie Phillips is the former Deseret News food editor. She blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com.

Email: vphillips@desnews.com