2017 From the Co-Chairs

Welcome From the Festival Co-Chairs

Sheila Christopherson (left) & Michelle Dawson (right)

WOW, 2017! Can you believe this is the 25th Anniversary of the MSUB Foundation’s Wine and Food Festival? Who knew that the event would be such a resounding success for student scholarships? The MSU Billings Wine & Food Festival was developed 24 festivals ago to raise funds to benefit the students of MSU Billings. The Festival has expanded from two nights to a week-long series of events and multiple pre-events throughout the year, raising over $5 million (net) to date in support of an often underserved population in our community. Thanks to the generosity of our partners, sponsors, volunteers and guests, hundreds of students have benefited due to your support.

Once again, our corporate partner, Briggs Distributing, has sagely invited two outstanding winemasters. Please welcome Steve Lohr, chairman and CEO of J. Lohr Winery, Paso Robles, Monterery County, and St. Helena, California, and Koerner “KR” Rombauer III, owner of Rombauer Vineyards, St. Helena, California. We are thrilled to have these winemakers join Executive Chef Nick Steen and Sous Chef Christine Helmers at the stunning Northern Hotel for the Winemaster Symposium celebration.

The week kicked off with another spectacular Guest Chef Dinner starring Bernard Guillas, Executive Chef at LaJolla Beach and Tennis Club in LaJolla, California, joined by Kevin Davis, Owner/Chef at Steelhead Diner Blueacre Seafood and Orfeo restaurants in Seattle, Washington; Carl Kurokawa, Executive Chef/Owner at Juliano’s Restaurant in Billings, Montana; Nick Steen, Executive Chef at the Northern Hotel, Billings, Montana, in collaboration with David Maplethorpe, former Executive Chef at The Rex. This elegant evening is one of the premier events of the entire Festival and delivers increasingly spectacular food and wine pairings. We thank Mike Nelson and his exceptional staff at The Northern for welcoming our chefs and guests.

Our cooking schools continue to bring inspirational cuisine to this corner of Montana and, as always, are showcased in stunning Billings homes. Cooking-school chefs included Executive Chef Bernard Guillas of LaJolla Beach and Tennis Club in LaJolla, California; Executive Chef Amy Smith of The Grand Hotel in Big Timber, Montana; Executive Chef Eric Gruber of Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana; and Executive Chef Shawn Hamilton Smith of Bighorn River Lodge in St. Xavier, Montana.

For the beer crafters, Tuesday evening’s Brewmaster Symposium at the Billings Petroleum Club featured Colin McKenney of Deschutes Brewing Company in Bend, Oregon. With the growing popularity of craft beers, this seminar offered an opportunity to learn, sample and pair crafted beers with foods prepared by Executive Chef Jeremy Engebretson.

Chefs Raghavan Iyer and Jim Dodge returned for a wonderful Wednesday “Savory Sweet: Tater Love,” with wines highlighted by Certified Wine Professional, Stella Fong.

And of course, under the Big Tent is Friday’s tasting/pairing of wines and brews from local and regional restaurants, and Saturday’s gala dinner with Executive Chef Jeremy Goldsmith, from Gonzaga University, including live and silent auctions.

The MSU Billings Foundation’s Wine & Food Festival would not be possible without our generous and eager volunteers. We would like to offer our heartfelt thanks in recognition of our wonderful Festival participants. More than 400 dedicated community members provide the Festival with countless hours of expertise, commitment and energy to make these events an outstanding success. Thank you so much for all that you do.

Michelle Dawson
Wine & Food Festival Co-Chair

Sheila Christopherson
Wine & Food Festival Co-Chair