SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek has hired a new executive chef with years of experience cooking at Marriott hotels.
Jason Gray, who has been with Marriott for 11 years, will now lead Salt Lake City restaurants Elevations and Destinations Lounge, said Jay Garrett, general manager. Gray was most recently the senior sous chef at Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
Gray has worked as a traveling chef for Marriott, opening multiple hotels across many brands in cities including New York, New Orleans, Charlotte and Minneapolis. He was a featured chef at the James Beard House for a “Bold Taste of the South” dinner, which was presented by Savannah Red Restaurant at Charlotte Marriott City Center.
His road to becoming executive chef began when he took a position as a dishwasher at a local country club in Raleigh, North Carolina while attending North Carolina State University. He said he fell in love with the kitchen atmosphere and decided to switch career paths from chemical engineering to culinary. Upon relocating to Charlotte to attend Johnson & Wales University, he started at Marriott as a line cook and continued to work his way up in the kitchen.
Upon graduation, Gray became the sous chef at Charlotte Marriott City Center. While there, Gray helped start the Foothills Connect program, which involved a government grant to wire the county with internet access so farmers could be connected with chefs and better communicate to sell their local produce and proteins directly from the farm to the restaurant table. He and his wife, Grainne, also operated a catering business in Charlotte that focused primarily on weddings and private dinner parties at home.
As a new resident of Utah, Gray said his focus will be on discovering the local food scene. His goal for Elevations is to bring Utah inside while focusing on bold flavors and local ingredients to deliver an exciting culinary experience. He has already visited with many local farmers and distributors to source the best products for guests at the Salt Lake City, UT hotel.
“The culinary scene here in Utah seems to center around bringing in flavors from all over the globe,” Gray said. “Hotel dining is moving more toward items that are comfortable and innovative. Guests want to see things they know mixed with new ideas from different regions and areas. There is still a big push for local ingredients and finding healthier ways to present the comfort food they know and love as well.”
Gray’s new menu at the hotel is expected to debut in early August 2016.