2015 Presenters

stella-fong_colorStella Fong

Stella Fong shares her personal love of food and wine through her cooking classes and wine seminars, as well as through her writings in her Libations column for Magic Magazine and contributions to Yellowstone Valley Woman. In the summer of 2008, she received her Certified Wine Professional certification from the Culinary Institute of America with the assistance of a Robert Parker Scholarship for continuing studies. She has taught on the West Coast for cooking schools such as Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, Macy’s Cellars, and Gelsons. In Billings, she has taught at the Billings Depot, Wellness Center, Copper Colander and the YWCA.

Fong has featured local bounty through her participation at the Good Earth Sunday Suppers and the first Field-to-Table dinner at Danly Farms in the summer of 2009 in collaboration with caterer Tom Nelson and Executive Chef Shane Weigel.

Born in the San Francisco Bay Area and raised in a traditional Chinese family, Fong devises culinary creations that include a mixture of old and new. Her understanding of food for the consumer came from working in her father’s grocery store, Martin’s Market, in Berkeley, CA, and she has developed recipes for San Diego State University food services and the Kids Cooking Club. Fong’s articles have appeared in Cooking Light, the Washington Post, and Fine Cooking. More recently, she has written for Big Sky Journal, Western Art and Architecture, and Montana Quarterly. Fong judged the International Association of Culinary Professionals cookbook awards, chairing the program in 2010 and 2011. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Davis, and a general cooking certificate from the Culinary Institute of America. Fong has volunteered for the MSU Billings Wine & Food Festival for many years and chaired it in 2008 and 2009 with Susan Carlson.


bill-mary-kennedyBill and Mary Kennedy

Mary and Bill Kennedy both grew up in Billings, MT. They have been actively involved in the community for the last 30 years. They raised two daughters in Billings, one now married and the other pursuing a banking career. They have two grandsons who keep them very busy in their spare time. They have always loved wines, as well as trying new wines, especially different varietals from smaller wineries.

Bill loves to cook and Mary likes to bake, so pairing a wine store and deli with catering was an excellent choice for their next careers. Bill’s family were “truck farmers” on the Billings Bench. His uncles John Grano and Dominic Gesuale were great winemakers. There was always a wonderful wine fermenting in their cellars. Bill remembers the days of picking the greens for the dandelion wine his grandparents made. Mary’s mother came from a large family – also farmers – and cooking for large groups of people just became second nature for her. Food, family, and get-togethers have been a huge part of Mary and Bill’s lives. The Wine Market & Deli brings together all of their experiences and fondest memories. Finding new and exciting wines has been a fun challenge – one that they like to share with their customers.


carolyn-korbCarolyn Korb

Carolyn Korb can often be heard gushing about the joy of getting to turn your passion into your profession. A resident of Billings, MT, Carolyn has happily allowed her passion for amazing food, wine and beer to flow into her professional life. Acting as general manager of City Vineyard since 2001, her drive, passion and unbridled obsession with providing the community of Billings with amazing products have turned a small wine shop into two thriving businesses.

This store houses more than 10,000 bottles of wine, a beer department full of local and imported brews, a full gourmet market featuring artisan cheeses, and a full-service wine bar that features an ever-changing selection of wines by the bottle and by the glass, wine flights, beer, and artisan cheese boards. Carolyn and her knowledgeable team are passionate not only about providing an unsurpassed level of service, but also about educating their customers and welcoming them to the ever-changing world of wine, beer and gourmet foods.


dan-merryDan Merry

Dan is a Montana native, born and raised in Billings. He graduated from Montana State University Bozeman in 1969 with a degree in economics and math. Immediately following graduation, Dan joined the family business, Yellowstone Hydraulics, working in sales, engineering, finance 
and management. He sold the business in 1998 to Spencer Industries and was their operations manager for 11 branches until retiring in 2004.

That is the year his son Patrick made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. “Instead of sitting around eating bon bons and watching soap operas, we should start a winery.” That is how Merry Cellars winery was created. Building on a long-standing interest in fine wines, he now assists Patrick with developing and selling fine wines of his own.

The greatest joys of his life come from his wonderful wife of 42 years, Connie, three great children, and five fantastic grandchildren that he gets to see every week. Life is good.


sue-rydquistSue Rydquist

Montana’s own Sue Rydquist is the owner/operator of Simply Wine in Billings. Simply Wine was built from Sue’s own passion for wine and her extended community.
She is a certified sommelier who takes great care in staying on top of the wine market and choosing just the right bottles for the store.

Simply Wine has grown exponentially over the last 10 years, adding a selection of imported cheese, beer, fun wine accessories, Riedel glasses, a wine bar, and most recently the Bistro at Simply Wine. Sue is proud to say that her wine store has been voted Billings Best Wine Store, seven years in a row!

When Sue is not at the store, you can find her teaching wine and wine-and-food classes, hosting winemaker events, or travelling to wine country all over the world.