2017 Guest Chefs & Presenters

Jim Carlson

Jim Carlson was born and raised in Minnesota and moved to Montana in the early ’80s. Cooking started out being a simple, enjoyable means to an end for Jim. This end was saving for school and doing his part in keeping the economy going. Sometime during his second or third year of college, while working with a French caterer, he realized he received tremendous enjoyment from the service of good food. So he moved around, learning and gleaning from many fine chefs and cooks, from many fine cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and this is what brought him to Montana.

Since settling in Billings, he has worked and managed several restaurants and catering services and is now the Chef at Highgate Senior Living. The joy, satisfaction and creative challenge of preparing and serving fine food is still what drives him today.

 

Kevin Davis

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1965, Kevin Davis learned the love and power of food at an early age from his Cajun grandmother. In 1975, his family moved to Singapore, where he was exposed to a variety of cuisines as they traveled from place to place. Kevin soon learned that he had a passion for cooking. He began restaurant work in 1984 at the World’s Fair and knew instantly that he had found his calling. A mostly self-taught cook, he spent a few years cooking in Miami before traveling to France to stage under Chef Jacques Chibois in 1988. In 1990, he met his wife and partner to be, Terresa, while working as the executive chef of a Creole restaurant on Melbourne Street in Adelaide, Australia. The couple moved back to New Orleans, where Kevin was the Chef of Arnaud’s from 1991 to 1996.

After successfully working in restaurants across America for 24 years, he and Terresa began to open their own restaurants: the wildly popular Steelhead Diner in 2007, followed by Blueacre Seafood in 2010 and Orfeo in 2015.

 

Jim Dodge

Jim comes from seven generations of hoteliers. After early training and direction at numerous resorts, he went to work at Wentworth-by-the-Sea in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he met Fritz Albicker, the Swiss chef responsible for Jim deciding to become a chef instead of a hotelier.

Jim spent 10 years in San Francisco as executive pastry chef at the Stanford Court, during which time he became the first pastry chef to be nationally recognized. Jim later made his home in the Pacific Rim and opened the American Pie, a restaurant and pastry shop offering modern fare in Hong Kong, a wholesale bakery, and eventually, a second American Pie. In 1993, Jim returned to the States and left retail baking for education, joining the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, as senior vice president. In 1996, he became the director of food services at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and in 2000, he joined Bon Appétit Management Company as general manager of the Getty Center. Since 2004, he has been the director of specialty culinary programs for Bon Appétit.

 

Tyler Ellis

Tyler Ellis is currently chef at The Field House. Prior to this, he was with Last Chance Cider Mill & Pub, The Black Bunker Bar and Grill at Briarwood Golf Club, and Lilac. Before that, he was Sous Chef at the Northern Hotel, as well as a long tenure at The Rex, where he worked primarily side-by-side with Chef David Maplethorpe. Tyler’s passion for the restaurant industry has been nurtured through local cuisine. His passion for cooking originated with enjoying the wonderful meals his mother made for him and his father daily.

When Tyler isn’t working, he enjoys playing with his dogs, renovating his house, enjoying the outdoors with his girlfriend, Michelle, and golfing. He has grown up in Billings, graduating from Skyview, and wants to continue enjoying what Montana has to offer.

 

Jeremy Engebretson

Jeremy Engebretson is the chef and owner of Lilac, a downtown Billings restaurant, serving American comfort food in an approachable, modern setting. Lilac has been named as one of 100 restaurants listed in Best American Cuisine via Open Table. Engebretson often partners with other talented local chefs and restaurants for special dinners, as well as focusing on sourcing products from our region’s farmers and ranchers.

Recently, Engebretson added the Billings Petroleum Club to his list of accomplishments, as the General Manager. For more than 60 years, the Club has been the region’s premier gathering place for special events, lunch, dinner, and business meetings. He hopes to take the same from-scratch regional approach to cooking for its members and guests to enjoy.

Jeremy started at a very young age as a busboy, dishwasher and eventually a line cook in his great aunt’s restaurant, CC’s Family Cafe, in Glendive, Montana. After high school, he studied business in Missoula and continued to work toward his goal of owning a restaurant. Jeremy travels extensively to experience new flavors and trends in some of the country’s best restaurants.

 

Stella 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 Yellowstone Valley Woman, thelastbestplates.com and lastbestnews.com. In 2016, her radio show – Flavors Under the Big Sky: Celebrating the Bounty of the Region – debuted on Yellowstone Public Radio. In her two books, Historic Restaurants of Billings and Billings Food, Fong showcases the chefs, cooks and food past and present in Montana’s Trailhead.

After receiving a Certified Wine Professional certification from the Culinary Institute of America in 2008, she began teaching Wine Studies courses, preparing students for the MSUB Foundation Wine & Food Festival. In the cooking arena, she has taught on the West Coast for cooking schools such as the Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, Macy’s Cellars, and Gelson’s, and after-school enrichment programs for elementary and middle school children. In Billings, she has instructed at the Billings Depot, Wellness Center, Copper Colander, YMCA and YWCA. She has team taught cooking classes for the MSUB Foundation with Raghavan Iyer and Christy Rost.

Fong has featured local bounty through her efforts at the Good Earth Sunday Suppers and her participation in the first Field to Table dinner at Danly Farms in the summer of 2009, in collaboration with caterer Tom Nelson and Executive 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 at her father’s grocery store, Martin’s Market, in Berkeley, California. Fong’s articles have appeared in Cooking Light magazine, the San Diego Union Tribune, and Fine Cooking magazine, as well as The Washington Post and Blue Water Sailing. Locally, she has written for the Big Sky Journal, Distinctly Montana, and Montana Quarterly, as well as Western Art and Architecture. She developed recipes for San Diego State University food services and the Kids Cooking Club. Fong judged for 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 MSUB Wine & Food Festival for many years and chaired the event in 2008 and 2009 with Susan Carlson.

 

Jeremy Goldsmith

Chef Jeremy Goldsmith returns for his eighth year as Executive Chef for the Wine & Food Festival’s Saturday night gala dinner. Jeremy has worked for 20 years in fine dining in Seattle, Portland and Spokane. His culinary style is inspired by his garden and rooted in the Pacific Northwest, with rich fundamentals in French traditions.

Jeremy is inspired by the budding palates of his children, and the adventure of traditional foods coming from his home garden and kitchen. His favorite meal is one prepared in the woods and shared. Jeremy is a graduate of the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, and currently is the Executive Catering Chef for the Hemmingson Center at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

 

Eric Gruber

Along with a lifetime passion for cooking, Chef Eric Gruber brings more than two decades of culinary experience and knowledge to the Wine & Food Festival. Chef Gruber’s philosophy of bringing local flavors and produce together in inventive yet approachable dishes is reflected in menu items such as Pan Roasted Chops with Huckleberry Ancho Chile Sauce and Crisp-skinned Montana Trout with warm heirloom potato, fennel, and baby root vegetable salad.

Eric Gruber is currently Executive Chef at the Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana. Most recently, Executive Chef at the W Hotel San Diego, Chef Gruber ties to the Northwest stem from his tenure at Shore Lodge and the Whitetail Club in McCall, Idaho, where he earned accolades, such as being named a top-10 destination restaurant in the Northwest. Chef Gruber holds a degree in Culinary Arts from Scottsdale Culinary Institute and is a member of the American Culinary Federation and the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs. Chef Gruber’s recipe for nouvelle three-cheese grilled cheese sandwiches was featured in the National Culinary Review, the official magazine of the American Culinary Federation. Furthermore, he was named to the advisory board of BehindTheKnife.com, a website about the tools in chefs’ arsenals and the stories behind them.

 

Bernard Guillas

Maitre Cuisinier de France Bernard Guillas is executive chef of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, the Shores Restaurant at the La Jolla Shores Hotel, and the landmark AAA 4-diamond Marine Room restaurant in California.

Right at home in La Jolla, Guillas’ affinity for the coastal lifestyle arose from his roots in Brittany. Guillas, no stranger to classic tradition, insists, “a good cook is a sorcerer who dispenses happiness on a plate.” He began his formal training at Le Bretagne Restaurant in Questembert, France, where he apprenticed with the legendary Georges Paineau. Jumping continents, Guillas moved on to become chef de cuisine at Le Dolmen in French Guyana and to the Maison Blanche restaurant in Washington, DC, as chef tournant, chef saucier, and sous chef under Pierre Chambrin, former White House executive chef. Guillas relocated to San Diego and spent five years as chef de cuisine at the Grant Grill, located in the US Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego’s historic district. Guillas became the Executive Chef of La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club in 1994.

Guillas published his first cookbook, Flying Pans, with co-author and chef de cuisine of the Marine Room Ron Oliver. It was awarded two IACP book of the year awards in the categories of Chefs and Restaurants and the coveted People’s Choice. The cookbook was also named one of IACP’s top three finalists in the category of Food Styling and Photography. Flying Pans was awarded top 10 Cookbook in America at Book Expo America in 2010. Guillas added his second cookbook, Two Chefs One Catch, A Culinary Exploration of Seafood, in 2014.

An avid culinary explorer, Guillas has a roster of impressive credits that include appearances on The Today Show, Martha Stewart Radio, Food Arts magazine and the Discovery Channel’s Great Chefs of the World television series. He has been guest chef multiple times at the James Beard House in New York, and he has been named Chef Magazine’s Chef of the Year and San Diego’s Best Chef numerous times. His philanthropic pursuits include Slow Food, The Beard House Foundation, Chaine des Rotisseurs, American Institute of Wine and Food, and international charities.

Chef Guillas promotes sustainability and plays an active role in supporting his local community while infusing the local culinary scene with his unique talent and engaging personality. Guillas is also the chef spokesman for the Macy’s School of Cooking, where he shares his passion for the culinary arts. He travels extensively throughout the world promoting his restaurants and the San Diego region.

 

Steve Haman

Steve, along with his wife Kim and their two boys, moved to Red Lodge in 2005. The move to Montana was to take advantage of the great outdoors, be close to family, and enjoy the simpler life. He developed his passion for wine and food in the early ’80s, when a close friend took him under his wing and exposed him to great wines and food, and he was an occasional visitor at the Phoenix Food & Wine Society meetings. Small-group wine tastings also provided an opportunity to learn more about wine.

Shortly after the launch of Babcock & Miles, Steve joined the staff and was able to share his enthusiasm for wine and fine foods. Steve is currently the wine buyer for Babcock & Miles. He has been involved in hand selecting the nearly 800 various wines in their current and ever-changing inventory. Steve hones his craft through continuing education.

Ongoing certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers, recognized as the world’s premier wine education program, is a pursuit of his. He holds the level one certification and aspires to continue with future levels. He continues to participate in small wine study groups to explore vintages, varietals, growing regions and wine-making techniques.

You will find him most days behind the counter with a smile and story of a new wine to try.

 

Christine Helmers

Christine’s cooking career has spanned over a decade with her humble beginnings as a prep cook in Plentywood, Montana, where she worked in a local family restaurant. She made her way to Oregon, where she went to school at the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute, focusing on baking and pastry skills, then began her journey into the culinary world full time. With stops in North Dakota and New York at the Westchester Country Club in Rye to complete an Apprenticeship Program, she then returned once again to Oregon Coast Culinary Institute for a degree in Culinary Arts. She has received two gold medals and one bronze medal for competing in American Culinary Federation food competitions.

Christine worked in Belgrade, Montana, as a pastry chef at Elle’s Belles Bakery and then found her way to the Northern Hotel in Billings, Montana, where she has resided as a prep cook, pastry chef, banquet chef, and now serves as its sous chef. Her love for cooking and teaching others valuable skills in the kitchen has never faltered, and that is always noticeable from her amazing smile.

 

Raghavan Iyer

Raghavan Iyer, a James Beard Award winner and IACP Award-winning Teacher of the Year, is the author of 660 Curries, Indian Cooking Unfolded, Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking, The Turmeric Trail, and Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked. He is also host of the Emmy Award-winning documentary Asian Flavors and a member and President (2014-2015) of The International Association of Culinary Professionals.

A native of Bombay who is fluent in six languages, Raghavan is a culinary educator, spokesperson, and consultant to numerous national and international clients. Additionally, at Case Western Reserve University, Iyer helped design and open an Indian-concept café, Naan, in August 2014.

Raghavan received a 2016 James Beard Award for his online video series, Indian Curries: The Basics and Beyond, and was a Finalist for a 2005 James Beard Award as a contributing writer for EatingWell magazine, and for a 2003 James Beard Award for his cookbook, The Turmeric Trail. He received the coveted 2004 International Association of Culinary Professionals Award of Excellence for Cooking Teacher of the Year, was named a 2008 Sustainable Seafood Ambassador for the prestigious Monterey Bay Aquarium, and was awarded the Doctorate of Foodservice by the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers.

He has written for many national publications. Raghavan is co-founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes, an organization dedicated to the preservation, understanding, and enjoyment of the culinary arts of Asia. He has a line of roasted spice blends, Turmeric Trail, and an app, Raghavan’s Indian Flavors. He lives with his family in Minneapolis.

 

Jane Krizek

Jane Krizek has made her home in Billings for the past 20 years. She has served as the wine bar manager and level one Sommelier at Simply Wine since 2014, and will be pursuing her level two Sommelier this fall.

Jane’s love of wine began many years ago on a visit to Napa. Since that trip, many wine adventures have ensued, including stints in Germany, France, Italy, Argentina, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. She holds a bachelor of science in education and an MBA.

When not at Simply Wine, you’ll find Jane enjoying traveling and pursuing adventure with her husband, Boris, spending time with family and friends and hanging out with her dachshund, Heinrich.

 

Carl Kurokawa

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 at Twin Lakes Village in Idaho, he took the position of Executive Chef at Bozeman’s Riverside Country Club. In 1987, Chef Carl returned to Billings as Executive Chef of the Radisson Northern Hotel for a year.

The next six years, Chef Kurokawa was 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, one of only three establishments in Montana to receive this distinction.

Chef Carl serves on the board of the Chefs and Cooks of Montana and was named “Chef of the Year” three straight years from 1987 to 1989.

 

David Maplethorpe

David Maplethorpe is now retired after 22 years as the leader at the helm of the iconic restaurant The Rex Restaurant Bar & Grill. Through his tenure at the restaurant, it received many honors, including 2007’s National Beef Backer Award for Innovator of the Year and being named one the best steak houses in the United States by the Travel Channel in 2013.

David is a graduate of the University of the Pacific, with an emphasis in political science. He followed his dream of teaching, but after a year and a half, decided it wasn’t for him. He then found his passion for great food and followed it into the kitchen, where his heart really was. He trained under the influence of Chef Serge DeLauge at the Westin Hotel in Denver, Colorado, and began traveling and working all over the country. Being trained in the French Style, he found work easy to come by, and he ultimately decided he wanted to see what the West had to offer. During this time, David continued his education with the Culinary Institute of America both in Hyde Park, New York, and Greystone in Napa Valley, California.

David ultimately ended up at The Rex Restaurant Bar & Grill in 1994. He then took a short hiatus, moved to Tyler, Texas, and opened the Dakota Chop House with a friend, where he served as Executive Chef. Before returning to Billings, David also worked a stint as Executive Chef at Michigan Tech University. Nevertheless, David returned to Billings to participate in the MSU Billings Foundation’s Wine & Food Festival Rogue Chef’s Dinner with friend Chef Carl Kurokawa, and to visit Gene Burgad at the Rex and his many other friends in the community.

In 2006, David returned to the Rex, where he continued his reign as Executive Chef until Valentine’s Day 2017. Since retiring, David has been consumed with the MSU Billings Foundation’s Wine & Food Festival. He is currently the co-chair of the Guest Chef Dinner and a member of the Steering Committee.

 

Colin McKenney

Colin is from a small, conservative farming community in rural Michigan. He brewed his first batch of homebrew on his 21st birthday, and quickly ran away from a seven-year career in IT to be a brewer.

After moving back and forth between Michigan and Oregon a few times, Colin has decided that mountains are necessary for happy living and made Bend, Oregon, his home. Colin enjoys long walks in the woods and Black Butte Porter.

 

Sue 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 care to stay on top of the wine market and chooses just the right bottles for the store and wine bar.

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 10 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 traveling to wine countries all over the world.

 

Amy Smith

Amy Smith is a native of Toledo, Ohio. She moved to Montana in 1989 when she took a job as Executive Chef at The Grand Hotel in Big Timber. Since her arrival, the Grand has become one of Montana’s premiere dining destinations. It has been a Wine Spectator award winner since 1993.

Amy gained culinary experience while apprenticing at Inverness Country Club in Toledo, Ohio. She attended the University of Washington and studied ichthyology (the study of fish). She moved to Grand Cayman for four years to work as a scuba instructor. After spending time in Seattle, she took a job as chef on a 110’ private charter yacht, where she excelled in Caribbean cuisine.

Working in Big Timber has created an interesting perk for Amy. An eclectic array of celebrities, including Tom Brokaw, Peter Fonda, Michael Keaton, Senators Alan Simpson and John Warner, Marchese Lodovico Antinori and Robert Redford have dined on Amy’s culinary creations. Amy recently attended courses on wine and food pairings at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.

 

Shawn Hamilton Smith

Shawn Hamilton Smith grew up in Easton, Connecticut, a small suburb of New York City, where he started cooking at a young age under the influence of his grandmother Jean, and Chef/mentor Gerard Clinton of the Aspetuck Valley Country Club. At the age of 18, he moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend the University of Utah and, of course, to ski. In order to financially fuel his winter endeavors, Shawn took to what was familiar, kitchens.

Eventually realizing that cooking was his passion, he enrolled in the culinary program at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Upon completion, he returned to Salt Lake and found a home as the Chef de Cuisine of the acclaimed Wild Grape Bistro. During this time, Shawn was recruited by the Michelin Starred Spruce restaurant in San Francisco to assist in opening their Park City, Utah-based restaurant of the same name. Under the tutelage of 2006 Food and Wine magazine best chef Mark Sullivan, Shawn honed his skills and developed a further understanding of the importance of simple, seasonal, and sustainable cuisine.

After Spruce, Shawn followed his passion for the outdoors to Bend, Oregon. It was while working in Bend that he discovered his love for fly fishing, which would eventually drive him to the Bighorn River Lodge in Fort Smith, Montana. Now, three seasons in, Shawn has found a home at BRL and splits his year between Montana and the Snowpine Lodge in Alta, Utah.

 

Marlo Spreng

Marlo Spreng joined the Walkers family as Executive Chef in February of 2005. Marlo graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, with a degree in Culinary Arts. She spent the next five years working her way up the ranks at the Tante Louise, one of Denver’s oldest and most renowned French restaurants. During her tenure at the Tante, Marlo developed a passion for French cuisine and classic cooking techniques. She then took her talents to the mountains of Vail, Colorado, and held the helm as Chef de Cuisine at The Grouse Mountain Grill. Working alongside Chef Rick Kangas, Marlo honed her skills as a manager, banquet chef and snowboarder and had the honor of cooking at New York City’s James Beard House.

From Vail, she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she became Executive Sous Chef of the Eldorado Hotel. Marlo then moved back to her native Denver to accept the Executive Chef position at the Tante Louise. Working among Denver’s finest chefs, she continued practicing her passion for all things French and ushered the Tante into a new era of modern French cuisine.

In 2005, Marlo made the big move north to Montana, where she has made Billings and Walkers her home. According to Marlo, the team at Walkers is second to none, and she credits her support staff for making Walker’s one of Billings’ best restaurants. Her advice to an aspiring chef is to always remember that although it’s never listed in any recipe, the most important ingredient in every dish is a little bit of Gran Marnier… for the chef.

 

Nick Steen

Nick entered into the food scene as a prep cook heavily influenced by chefs from San Francisco and New Zealand. He briefly switched careers, becoming an EMT/ firefighter while starting a family. The switch was short lived, and he returned to his first love of cooking in Bozeman, Montana, where his concept of farm-to-table cooking was used in a Bozeman elementary school.

An open position as the Executive Chef and food and beverage director at Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky caught Nick’s eye, and he quickly applied and was offered the job. Chef Nick’s approach to fine dining is rooted in taking the simplest of ingredients and transforming them into unique dishes, which added to the dining experience at Lone Mountain. Swayed heavily by the creative genius of James Beard, Chef Nick believes in diversity in his dishes.

Chef Nick and his family yearned to move back to his hometown of Billings. In March 2016, when the Executive Chef spot opened up at the Northern Hotel, he immediately applied for the position and was offered the job. He was barely in his new chef coat when he competed and won in an Iron Chef competition at MSU Billings.

Chef Nick hopes to rediscover some classic dishes as well as “push the boundaries of creativity in the kitchen.” When you sit down with Nick, it is impossible not to get excited about food.

Recent accolades include Nick being named twice as one of “The Ten Best Chefs in the Northwest” by The Culture Trip, and his gastronomy was featured in Zagat’s “8 Reasons to Visit Yellowstone Right Now.”

 

Marcy Tatarka

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.

Currently, Marcy is on sabbatical, learning to relax and play and discovering where her passion for food will take her next… stay tuned!

 

Eric Trager

Eric Trager is the Executive Chef at Old Piney Dell at Rock Creek Resort in Red Lodge, Montana, where he maximizes his 25 years of experience in providing European influenced meals, creating daily features and coaching his staff to create a culinary experience for their guests.

Eric is President of the Chefs and Cooks of Montana and has served on the board for two years. More recent work experience includes Executive Chef at Morning Star Senior Living in Billings, two years as Executive Chef of Red Lodge Restaurants, consisting of Carbon County Steakhouse, Bogart’s Restaurant and Red Lodge Pizza Company, and Executive Chef at Bridge Creek Backcountry Kitchen & Wine Bar.

Eric’s innovative style while utilizing ingredients from local ranchers and farmers is evident in the kitchen, the garden and the cooking classes he teaches. As a member of Western Sustainability Exchange, he has become active in promoting Montana-made products and sustainable practices. Eric has worked with the Montana Department of Agriculture, showcasing Montana-made products in Florida, New York, Massachusetts and California. In 2010, he prepared meals for Taiwanese government officials who were visiting Helena to evaluate Montana agriculture and Montana-made products.

Eric was honored in 2009 as Chef of the Year by the Chefs and Cooks of Montana. In 2004, he received a gold medal for his entree at the Montana Connection Chef’s Competition and was awarded a silver medal in the 2005 competition.

Eric is a graduate of the culinary program at Paul Smith’s College in Upstate New York, where he medaled in numerous culinary competitions and was honored as a member of Who’s Who in Junior Colleges. He apprenticed in Nantucket, Massachusetts, and then continued his culinary training in Beaver Creek, Colorado, Laramie, Wyoming, and Napa, California, before settling in Red Lodge.Eric and his wife Dulcie have two children, Anja and Cedric.

 

Sarah Wilson

Chef Sarah Wilson at the Double Tree is a Billings native and started her journey in hospitality 10 years ago. Her love for food started at a young age, and she has remained passionately curious about honing her craft. She has participated in local food and wine events and continues to remain actively involved in community happenings.

Her drive led her from entry level positions to her current role as executive chef. She credits her success to the many influential people who have significantly impacted her culinary artistry.