2015 Guest Chefs

jeremy-berg-200x300Jeremy Berg

Executive Chef, Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa

Chef Jeremy Berg has been with Chico Hot Springs Resort and Day Spa for seven years. He began his career at Chico as an intern, was promoted to sous chef, moved up to banquet chef and is now the executive chef. With a degree in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu in Portland, OR, as well as having been born and raised in Montana, Chef Berg understands the importance of sustainable gardening and the farm-to- table philosophy.


Mike-CallaghanMike Callaghan

Executive Chef/Owner, Callaghan Enterprises, Billings, Montana

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Mike found work wherever he could in various restaurants starting at the age of 12. After discovering his passion, he attended Athlone College and graduated in 1985 with a degree in hospitality management and a Culinary Arts degree from City and Guilds of London, England. After immigrating to the United States in 1985, Mike worked in various restaurants on the East Coast as a bus boy during the day and stuffed newspapers at night. After being promoted to a prep cook, sous chef and then finally executive chef, a chance encounter led him to make the acquaintance of Bill Honaker in Philadelphia. The two became friends and then made an agreement to start a restaurant together in Montana. That restaurant would become Walker’s Grill in Billings. After establishing Walker’s Grill as one of the preeminent restaurants in Billings, Mike left to begin work for Food Services of America as a restaurant consultant. Over the next 17 years, Mike worked his way up to the position of Director of Business Development, helping thousands of restaurants refine their businesses along the way.

Over the course of his career, Mike has been part owner, managed and operated restaurants in Philadelphia, Wilmington, DE, and Billings. He has been a supporter and mentor to the ProStart culinary program both in Montana and Wyoming for the past six years and is also a Certified ServSafe Trainer with over 500 national certification classes to his credit. While he was the executive chef at Jack’s Firehouse restaurant in Philadelphia, it was recognized as a top-ten restaurant in the nation by Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines. He was also the executive chef at Silk Purse Sows Ear in Wilmington, DE, voted best restaurant in the state by Food & Wine.


Chef-JimJim Carlson

Executive Chef, MorningStar Senior Living

Jim’s love of cooking began in college while he was working for a French caterer who taught him the art of preparing and serving fine food. Jim moved from Minnesota to Montana in the early 1980s and since then has worked for many fine chefs from many different cultures and backgrounds. In 2009, he was named Chef of the Year by the Chefs and Cooks of Montana. Jim has worked at and managed several restaurants and catering services and is now the executive chef at MorningStar Senior Living. According to Jim, the joy, satisfaction and creative challenge of preparing and serving food are what energize his day.


tim-freeman-200x300Chef Tim Freeman

Executive Chef – Northern Hotel in Billings

Chef Tim Freeman’s passion for cooking began at the early age of six, watching his mother in the kitchen. His first job was at 15 as a dishwasher in a golf club. Following culinary school at Sullivan College in Louisville, KY, Tim worked with Wolfgang Puck at Spago, then moved on to the White House as a Chef de Partie in the Clinton Administration, cooking for world leaders when they visited Washington. His mentors were Chef Walter Scheib and renowned Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier. Tim went on to work for the governor of Ohio, George Voinovich.

Tim has worked all over the world, including Russia, Portugal, the Philippines and Kenya. He was named the Most Innovative Chef in Africa, Biggest Trendsetter, and Best Fine Dining Restaurant Individual.

As executive chef at the Northern Hotel’s TEN restaurant, Tim is working to give Billings and Montana a global presence in the culinary world. Since coming on board at TEN in May 2014, Tim has focused on finding culinary inspiration in local flavors approached in a simple way. He was surprised to discover there were so few wild-game items on the menu, even though Montana is a state where so many people hunt. This year, Tim was inducted into the World Gourmet Society, one of two chefs in North America to receive this honor.


GoldsmithJeremy Goldsmith

Executive Chef – Gonzaga University, Seattle, Washington

Jeremy Goldsmith returns for his sixth year as executive chef for the Wine & Food Festival’s Saturday night gala dinner. Having worked in the Seattle, Portland and Spokane areas, Jeremy has over 18 years of fine-dining experience. He brings a culinary style that is Pacific Northwest inspired, with a rich foundation in traditional French techniques. Jeremy is a graduate of the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, OR and currently is the executive chef at the McCarthey Athletic Center at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA.


matt-israelMatt Israel

Executive Chef, Sacajawea Inn, Three Forks, Montana

Chef Israel has been cooking since he was 15. A Montana native, Matt knew at an early age that he would pursue a career in the food industry. While he doesn’t hold any formal culinary degrees, his life-long experience and tutelage in some of Montana’s finest restaurants has elevated his reputation as one of the best chefs in the state. The reviews of his current restaurant, Pompey’s Grill, reflect his creativity and talent.

Matt began his culinary apprenticeship with Chef Blu Funk at Showtime in Big Fork, MT. During high school, he worked on weekends and throughout the summer learning the ropes of how a kitchen functions. Chef Blu took Matt under his wing and showed him how to create interesting and creative dishes. This led to Matt’s passion for pure flavors, using local ingredients to create amazing food. At age 19, Matt earned the rank of sous chef and knew he was going to be a “lifer.”

In 2007, Matt was hired as executive chef at the Blue Canyon in Kalispell, MT. In this arena, he was assigned responsibility for opening and running the successful restaurant and banquet facility, giving him the tools and experience to move forward in his career.

When the Folkvord Family purchased the Sacajawea Hotel in 2009 and committed to a complete restoration of the 100-year-old building, they also knew they would need a chef to raise the bar in their new restaurant.  Matt had been gaining notoriety in the Flathead Valley, but jumped at the chance to start anew with an entrepreneur family and a new venture. Since its opening, Pompey’s Grill has enjoyed rave reviews and a satisfied clientele. Chef Matt has created a reputation throughout the state for his fresh and creative cuisine, which has proven to be the best ever in Montana.


Chef-CarlCarl Kurokawa

Juliano’s Restaurant

Chef Carl Kurokawa worked in numerous hotels and restaurants on three different islands in his home state of Hawaii before relocating to Montana in 1980. After three years as the executive sous chef at the Billings Sheraton and a year as manager of the Carriage Inn in Twin Lakes Village in Idaho, he took the position of executive chef at Bozeman’s Riverside Country Club. In 1987, Carl returned to Billings as executive chef at the Radisson Northern Hotel for a year. The next six years were spent as chef at DeVerniero’s Ristorante until 1995, when he and two partners purchased Juliano’s Restaurant. Chef Carl and Juliano’s have received numerous awards, including the DiRoNa Award as one of the distinguished restaurants in America, and one of only three establishments in Montana to receive this recognition. Chef Carl serves on the board of the Chefs and Cooks of Montana and was named Chef of the Year for three consecutive years, 1987 to 1989.


Lin-Lin-and-CW-PictureC.W. and Lin-Lin Lo

Sushi and Sake

C.W. and Lin-Lin Lo have made Billings their home for nearly 30 years after relocating to Montana from Taiwan in 1987. C.W. was a fighter pilot for the Taiwan Air Force, and Lin-Lin was a renowned piano teacher. They decided to immigrate to the United States for better education opportunities for their two sons, Wayne, and Ryan.

With no prior restaurant experience, C.W. and Lin-Lin opened The Great Wall Chinese Restaurant in 1987. Through much hard work, The Great Wall became one of the most popular restaurants in Montana. C.W. and Lin-Lin retired briefly in 2004, only to return to the Billings restaurant scene with Sweet Ginger. Their new Asian Bistro introduced a new dimension of Asian Cuisine to Montana. C.W. cooked many of the old favorites from the Great Wall menu, while Lin-Lin crafted some of the finest sushi and sashimi creations in the Rocky Mountain region.

After serving the finest Asian cuisine to Montanans for over 25 years, C.W. and Lin-Lin decided to finally retire. They are now enjoying their free time travelling back to their home town of Taipei, Taiwan, and spending time with their granddaughter Chloe.


maplethorpeDavid Maplethorpe, Executive Chef

Rex Restaurant, Billings, Montana

Though his training and experience have taken him all over the country, David Maplethorpe returned to Billings for good nine years ago, resuming his position as executive chef at The Rex Restaurant Bar & Grill. In February 2008, The Rex was acknowledged by the National Cattleman’s Beef Association with the “2007 National Beef Backer Award for Innovator of the Year.” This coveted award recognizes the efforts of owner Gene Burgad, 
David, and the highly professional team at The Rex Restaurant.

It wasn’t until after he completed a degree in Political Science at the University of the Pacific at Stockton that David, a California native, decided he had to follow his passion for great food. He trained in the French style and was mentored by a French chef in Denver, CO. David continued his education with the Culinary Institute of America both in Hyde Park, NY, and Greystone in Napa Valley, CA.

During his five-year hiatus, David helped open the Dakota Chop House in Tyler, TX, where he served as executive chef and also worked as executive chef at Michigan Tech University. David nevertheless returned to Billings once a year, to visit Gene and friends but also to participate in the MSU Billings Wine & Food Festival Rogue Chef’s Dinner with Chef/Owner Carl Kurokawa of Juliano’s Restaurant.


nick-steen2-240x300Nick Steen

Executive Chef, Lone Mountain Ranch

Billings native Nick Steen has spent the last 12 years cooking professionally as well as for family and friends. Nick moved to Bozeman in 2003 to attend college and began working as a breakfast chef on weekends at the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, MT. As time went by, his passion for cooking became clear, and over the next few years, he was able to work with James Beard Award winners and Montana chefs, where he learned about using the best local ingredients. Nick then tried his hand in many different food arenas from corporate mass-food production and private chef and food service director for Monforton School in Four Corners to sous chef and chef de cuisine for several Bozeman restaurants. In 2013, he found his niche at Lone Mountain Ranch.

Passion, dedication and attention to detail are how Chef Nick Steen creates a great dining experience for the guests at Lone Mountain Ranch. Every dish on the menu is prepared with the finest ingredients, using local produce and meats from area farms and ranches whenever possible.

Nick was named one of the Top 10 Chefs of the Northwest by The Culture Trip website and was featured on Zagat, the 
on-line restaurant review, as one of the top chefs in the Yellowstone National Park region.


carole-sullivanCarole Sullivan

Chef/Owner, Mustang Fresh Food & Catering, Livingston, Montana

Carole Sullivan is the author of the cookbook Gatherings: Friends and Recipes from Montana’s Mustang Kitchen and the chef and owner of Mustang Fresh Food and Catering in Livingston, MT. She has been successfully running her business for 18 years and has had the honor of cooking for President Obama and Martha Stewart. Her customer list includes Jeff and Susan Bridges, Michael Keaton, Tom and Meredith Brokaw, Clyde Aspevig and Oprah Winfrey, along with many other local artists, writers and celebrities. Mustang Catering specializes in providing southwest Montana with distinctive and thoughtfully prepared meals custom designed to fit each client’s wishes. Signature dishes such as grilled organic chicken sausages with apples, yams and onions, classic chicken pot pie and Indian lamb and potato stew have garnered a loyal following. It’s the people that come into her shop on Main Street every day that keep her cooking in the kitchen, creating eclectic gourmet comfort food.


carrie-sullivanCarrie Sullivan

Teacher and Chef

Carrie Sullivan started working at the Copper Colander in 2007 and by January 2009, had been promoted to culinary center coordinator. As well as finding local chefs to teach classes, she was teaching classes herself. She has been a presenter at Wine & Food Festival events and in addition has taught at many private parties and team-building sessions.

Carrie’s passion for food began at a young age when she would help her grandmother can the produce from her garden. She currently assists at Passages on an as-needed basis and when she isn’t working enjoys spending time with her husband, Brian, and their daughter, Jessica.


Chef-MarcyMarcy Tatarka

Chef/Owner, Beyond Basic Catering

Marcy opened Beyond Basil Catering on a dare in 1994 and since then has strived to build the type of business that fulfills the wishes of her clients. She specializes in custom menus and superb service and enjoys creating dishes using unique foods and fresh herbs and spices, all within the budget of the customer. Marcy was named Chef of the Year in 2007 by the Chefs and Cooks of Montana.

Her love of food has allowed her to follow her passion for ethnic foods. Whether roasting chilies to make mole, toasting and grinding spices for curry powder, making pastas or roasting bones for stock, she continues to explore the world of flavors and to create exciting new dishes for her clients.

Marcy has been fortunate enough to work with some great people in the industry. She has taken classes from Masaharu Morimoto, Ferran Adria, Jose Garces and Rick Bayless. She has had the great pleasure of food styling for Jamie Oliver and has catered for many celebrities and concerts, from Alice Cooper to Elton John.


Chef-EricEric Trager

Executive Chef and Restaurateur

Eric Trager lives and works in Red Lodge, where he is preparing to open a new restaurant. Most recently, he was the executive chef at MorningStar Senior Living in Billings, but you may remember him best as the top chef at the Carbon County Steakhouse, Bogart’s Restaurant or Bridge Creek Backcountry Kitchen and Wine Bar in Red Lodge. Montana isn’t the only place he’s prepared tasty meals incorporating only the freshest ingredients, however. As a member of the Western Sustainability Exchange, Eric became active in promoting Montana-made products and sustainable practices and has showcased Montana’s best in Florida, New York, Massachusetts and California.

Chef Eric brings 24 years of experience to this event. He also serves as president of the Chefs and Cooks of Montana. In 2004, Eric received a gold medal for his entrée at the Montana Connection Chef’s Competition and in 2009, he was honored as the Chef of the Year by the Chefs and Cooks of Montana.

Eric is a graduate of the culinary program at Paul Smith’s College in upstate New York, where he medaled in numerous culinary competitions. A member of the Who’s Who in Junior Colleges, he apprenticed on Nantucket Island, then continued his culinary training in Beaver Creek, CO, Laramie, WY and Napa, CA, before settling in Red Lodge. Eric and his wife Dulcie have two children, Anja and Cedric.


jason-wilsonJason Wilson

Executive Chef/Owner, CRUSH and Miller’s Guild, Seattle, Washington

Chef Jason Wilson’s Modern American Cuisine has garnered awards and notice from across the nation and beyond as his restaurant, CRUSH, has grown over the past six years. Named “Best Chef Northwest 2010” by the James Beard Foundation and one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs 2006,” Jason continues to innovate and lead the culinary movement in 
the Northwest.

A passion for the highest-quality ingredients and the very best techniques is the foundation for his cuisine. Embracing a modern sensibility, he works closely with farmers, growers and producers in the Northwest to find the best seasonal offerings. The Monterey Bay Aquarium recognized Jason’s commitment to sustainable seafood in 2010 as a leader in the industry during their “Cooking for Solutions” gala event.

Jason’s culinary experience spans 20 years and many countries. A graduate of the California Culinary Academy, Jason sought out great chefs to learn from: Albert Tordjman (Flying Saucer), Michael Mina (Aqua), and Jeremiah Tower (Stars). Under Jeremiah Tower in San Francisco, he found mentorship and built a strong foundation of skills. Following Tower to Singapore, Jason worked as executive sous chef at Stars Singapore, working and cooking throughout Southeast Asia. After two years Jason landed in Seattle, working for Stars Seattle, where he met his wife and business partner Nicole. Together they opened CRUSH in 2005.


mason-zeglanMason Zeglen

Executive Chef, 14 North Restaurant, Bozeman, Montana

Mason Zeglen is the executive chef of 14 North, Bozeman’s first gastropub, offering high-quality food in a casual, relaxed atmosphere that highlights local produce and quality ingredients.

Growing up on a small, sustainable farm in Killington, VT, Mason learned the value of a hard day’s work. It was there that he developed a love of the flavor of garden-fresh ingredients. Mason’s first experiences with cooking in a professional kitchen began at age thirteen as a night prep cook and runner for a high-volume restaurant, Santa Fe Steak House. Intrigued by the energy, atmosphere, and food, Mason set his career path at an early age. The French techniques Mason uses today were learned at the New England Culinary Institute. After two internships and a couple of years running a small French bistro in Vermont, Mason knew it was time to find his next adventure. All signs pointed west. He settled into Bozeman easily, loving the outdoor lifestyle that was similar to his home state of Vermont. Mason worked as the front house manager at Ted’s Montana Grill for a few years. When the opportunity to become the executive chef at 14 North became available, Mason jumped at the chance.

Mason and his knowledgeable staff are hard at work every morning at 8:00 a.m., making pickles, soups, sauces, pastas, and breads from scratch. The combination of flavorful food and passion for the craft ensures a great authentic plate of food that won’t be soon forgotten.


Megan Jessee

Megan has been a cook, chef and executive chef in New York, California, England, Italy, West Yellowstone and now Billings. For the past four years, she has been the Culinary Arts Program Manager and Chef Instructor at Passages. The 18- month program teaches inmates at Montana Women’s Prison real-world food-service-industry skills and has graduated 17 students since the program’s inception in 2009.

Megan earned associate and bachelor’s degrees from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. She was recently named Chef of the Year for 2014 by the Chefs and Cooks of Montana. Her specialty is Italian cuisine, but for now she is focused on teaching the basics of restaurant and professional cooking.