Stella Fong

Flavors Under The Big Sky Host

Stella Fong shares her personal love of food and wine through her cooking classes and wine seminars as well as through her contributions to Yellowstone Valley Woman, and Last Best News and The Last Best Plates blogs. Her first book, Historic Restaurants of Billings hit the shelves in November of 2015 with Billings Food available in the summer of 2016. After receiving 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 the Wine Studies programs for Montana State University Billings Wine and Food Festival since 2008. She has instructed on the West Coast for cooking schools such as Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma, Macy’s Cellars, and Gelsons, and in Billings, at the Billings Depot, Copper Colander, Wellness Center, the YMCA and the YWCA. Locally she has collaborated with Raghavan Iyer and Christy Rost in teaching classes.

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 collaboration with caterer Tom Nelson and Executive Chef Shane Weigel. Her food and wine pairing dinners have benefited many organizations in Billings.

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, the Washington Post, and Fine Cooking. She has written for Magic MagazineBlue Water Sailing, the Big Sky JournalWestern Art and Architecture, and Montana Quarterly. 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 Bachelor of Science degrees in biochemistry from the University of California, Davis, and computer engineering from the University of California, San Diego, 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 it in 2008 and 2009 with Susan Carlson.

Lynn Donaldson

On the week of Valentine’s Day this year, Montana State University Bozeman hosted the 31st Bug Buffet.  I will admit to being repelled by the whole idea of insects initially.

Stella Fong

The corner of 3rd Avenue North and North 19th Street in Billings warms with spice and flavor. On the outskirts of downtown, Mirch Masala, an Indian restaurant opened by the Patels in the fall, serves up homestyle vegetarian food. With mother and chef Vandana, patriarch Navnit, son Nick and his wife Delisha with grandson, Neel, and daughter Dhara and husband Vatsal, they illustrate what can be cooked up with the power and energy of family.

Stella Fong

Just before the calendar page flips into the New Year, some of us have traditions or rituals we put into practice to honor the start of another year. In the few years Flavors Under the Big Sky: Celebrating the Bounty of the Region has been on the air, I have gone near and far in Montana to talk to chefs, cooks, producers, restauranteurs, farmers, ranchers, wine makers, brewers, designers and many others who nourish us. I know I have countless more people to talk to who make our Big Sky foodscape more delicious. I look forward to meeting and talking to you.

Lynn Donaldson

At the end of a paved road in Pray just outside Livingston is the iconic Chico Hot Springs Resort and Spa. On this day as fall was edging into winter, my husband and I drove a hundred miles as in the Montana way to dine in the recently opened Tasting Room. As we stepped out of our car under the watch of Emigrant Peak, we thought of times past at Chico with each other, friends and family. The clapboard Victorian lodge with green framed windows welcomed us as it did twenty years ago when we first visited.

Stella Fong

In November Bistro Enzo in Billings celebrates twenty years in business. Executive Chef and owner James Honaker claimed the actual date was November 11, 2018 or sometime thereabouts. He seemed almost nonchalant about the birthday. For long time staff - servers Daisy Castro and Dave Caserio, day Chef Paul Reitz and volunteer Lezlie Solari, the time marked event held significance.

Stella Fong

September 30, 2018

In my perfect kitchen I would have all wood utensils. There is something organic and sensual using tools that come from Mother Nature. When shaped by a human artisan to mold into the hand and provide for more optimal cooking, the experience of preparing food becomes pleasurable.

Lynn Donaldson

Airport? Shopping Mall? High end hotel in Asia? The new Rendezvous Dining Pavilion at Montana State University Bozeman  is changing the foodscape of college campus dining in our Treasure State. The traditional institution style of feeding the masses has taken on a new shiny chapter. In an $18.2 million building of glass, metal, wood and brick, diners can feast on nine different food concepts under one roof. (Note: The public is welcome to dine at the Rendezvous Dining Pavilion.

Stella Fong

Cool jazz weaves through the room as I sip a pretty cocktail with house made tinctures and infusions. As my back sinks into the soft leather seat, I study a menu with large clean print. A server comes by and gently places a basket of warm bread at the table. I smile inhaling the aroma of baked wheat and melting sweet butter. Then sizzle and fire flash into the room from the open kitchen. I am happy and become happier when I take my first bite of a summer tomato salad garnished with basil leaves on fresh Burrata.

Stella Fong

When my husband and I discovered Mas Taco in Red Lodge, we were transported to a former life in San Diego. The food at this small taqueria created by Chef Michael Muirhead reproduces the fresh and flavorful cuisine found in small eateries north of the Mexican border in California. 

Chef Muirhead makes everything from scratch. Corn tortillas are hand pressed from masa dough with salsas chopped and assembled in house. “We do every taco to order, with tortillas hand pressed to order no matter how busy it is,” Muirhead shared. 

Stella Fong

In a strip mall right off of Grand Avenue in midtown Billings is Fancy Sushi Asian Fusion. This restaurant offers over 259 different menu items from Japan, Thailand, China and Korea, bringing a sampling of Asian cuisine to diners. Fusion food combines ingredients and flavors from Asia with American touches. Already featuring sushi, sashimi, curries, noodles and stir-fries, the restaurant recently offered the option of Korean Barbecue, the first in Montana.

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