Flavors Under the Big Sky

Third Monday of Each Month from 6:30-7:00PM

Host Stella Fong shares her personal love of food and wine in this monthly series. Celebrate the bounty of the region with Flavors Under the Big Sky.

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Asano Otsu

During the rising of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many rediscovered their inner knead. The making of bread provided comfort and a sense of security, evident by the disappearance of flour and yeast from the grocery store shelves.  Social media then showcased the photos of the risen results.

Plastic entrance of Fancy Sushi Asian Fusion to accommodate takeout orders.
Stella Fong / Yellowstone Public Radio


Bars and restaurants found some creative ways to stay in business during Montana’s mandated month long business closure. In this Flavor Moment, Stella Fong of Flavors Under the Big Sky checks in with three Billings eateries about what it took to stay afloat.

Stella Fong

Social closeness seasons the enjoyment of food and drink. Unfortunately, in this COVID-19 pandemic, flavor has waned in the food and drink industry. Restaurants have modified their menus for takeout, and breweries, coffee houses and distilleries now provide curbside and delivery options when they did not before. An industry that has always faced unpredictability is taking its ultimate test.

Stella Fong

The word “sassy” exhales confidence and liveliness with irreverence sifted in. The Sassy Biscuit Co. in downtown Billings bakes up such sassiness that it has become one of the more popular places in town for brunch. Founder and owner Jilan Johnson opened the bruncherie serving breakfast  everyday and into the evenings from Wednesdays to Saturday in 2018.

Stella Fong

When stepping from Montana Avenue into Veronika’s Pastry Shop, an embrace of buttery and caramel goodness welcomes you. Once inside the bakery you cannot help but feel owner and baker Veronika Baukema’s love and attention she’s mixed into creating her French, Eastern European and Russian pastries. The space is bright and cozy, and Baukema’s enthusiastic welcome only invites you to collect a treat.

Lynn Donaldson, Stella Fong, Louis Habeck

Cooking in a landlocked state, away from the coastal tides of trends, three James Beard Foundation semifinalists for Best Chef of the Northwest: Dave Wells of Chico Hot Springs Resort, Jeremy Engebretson of Lilac on Montana Avenue in Billings, and James Honaker of Bistro Enzo located in Billings’ West End stand solidly under the Big Sky.

Lynn Donaldson

In 2019 Flavors Under the Big Sky: Celebrating the Bounty of the Region had many flavorful moments. I am grateful to those who shared stories of their passions in making our foodscape more delicious, but in this show I wanted to honor those women who I believed left the biggest impression.

Stella Fong

Susan Carlson remembered the poinsettias and the flocked Christmas tree at the Northern Hotel. When she was a little girl in the early 60s, this iconic hotel held the dreams of sugar plum fairies especially during the holidays. She was always in “anticipation” when she dined there with her great grandmother Emma Evers, grandmother Dorothea Wolfe and mother Bette Lindsey. The thought of going there excited her. Being there made her happy. Thinking about returning, reignited the sensations of anticipation. In time, her daughter Emily, and son Gary joined the event so looked forward to, so anticipated.

Stella Fong

Apples and fall are synonymous in my world. As cold seeps into the air and the light of day takes on shades of orange, these signs of Mother Nature tell me it’s time to pluck ripening apples from the trees. When collected, they become the treasures to be shined with a pulled down sleeve and bitten into or peeled and sliced to be baked into pies or breads. They can be concentrated into sauce or butter, preserved for future savor. But for me, the prize of the season is fresh pressed apple juice, the nectar from “the noblest of fruits” as honored by Henry David Thoreau.

Stella Fong

Bees help food grow in our world. Their work in cross pollination bring forth the seeds to about one third the farmed crops in the world. In the last years, bee keeping has become abuzz under the Big Sky. The popularity is evident with the Yellowstone BeeKeepers with a membership evolving from a handful of members to now around 60. The group that meets at the Last Chance Cider Mill on the second Tuesday of each month is a wealth of resource for the seasoned beekeeper to the novice to someone who just wants to learn.