"You must get to eat a lot of great food!"

That's a comment I frequently hear from people who find out I'm a food editor.

To me, the best perk is not the food I eat but the people I meet. The last weekend in June was a case in point. That Thursday, I'd gotten a call from Bonnie Tandy Leblang, co-author of Supermarket Sampler, the syndicated column that appears in our Food section.

She lives in Connecticut, but she and her two 20-something sons, Bryan and Eric, were in Utah for her father's 90th birthday. The trio had just finished a segment on KSL's "Studio Five" show about their new blog, Bite of the Best, where they review their favorite food products.

During lunch at Martine, I realized how seriously these three take food. It was amusing to hear them strategize over what each would order and share, to sample as many different dishes as possible. Leblang said she started Bite of the Best because after nearly 23 years of criticizing so many junk-food type products in Supermarket Sampler, "I want to talk about products that I really like."

Saturday morning found me at the Downtown Farmers Market, judging a cook-off between two intriguing local chefs: Jerry Liedtke of Tin Angel and Daniel Sagetree of One World Cafe.

In typical "Iron Chef" style, both cooked up fresh, flavorful dishes from ingredients given just minutes beforehand, such as Weeks berries, Gnome Grown mushrooms and produce from Borski Farms and Bell Organics. I'd rather just taste-test and not judge at these contests. All the dishes are stellar, so it's hard to declare a winner.

But Salt Lake Tribune food editor Kathy Stephenson and I finally decided on One World Cafe as the entree and overall winner and Tin Angel the appetizer winner.

Later that afternoon I reconnected with Beverly Nye of South Jordan. Before Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray, there was "At Home With Beverly Nye" on cable TV. During the '70s and '80s, the Cincinnati housewife championed the role of homemakers. At one point her cookbook, "A Family Raised on Sunshine," was Waldenbooks' second best seller — Alex Haley's "Roots" was No. 1.

My sister, Christi Nash, was a huge fan. Bev's Chicken Magnifico and Peanut Butter Easter Eggs were Nash family favorites. Then suddenly, Nye's show was off the air, and Christi never knew why.

The mystery was solved four years ago when I did a story about Nye's self-published book, "Year 'Round Sunshine." I found out that her whirlwind of TV, radio and book tours took its toll on her health. She collapsed due to chronic fatigue syndrome and spent 10 years recovering. She later moved to Utah.

I wanted Christi to get the chance to meet Nye in person, and after four years of conflicting schedules, it finally happened. Over sandwiches at Kneaders, they reminisced about recipes and guest stars, with Nye providing behind-the-scenes details. (Readers who also remember Nye can find her at beverlynye.com.)

On my way home, I stopped in at the grand reopening of Tony Caputo's Market & Deli, which has been remodeled. I always learn something new whenever I talk to Tony or his son, Matt. This time, I discovered their new cheese cave, which looks like a walk-in refrigerator that is climate-controlled to perfectly age cheese.

Dishes and laundry were waiting for me at home. But I'd enjoyed some great morsels and memories.


E-mail: vphillips@desnews.com