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Flavors: Food Gifts for the Kitchen and Appetite

Chalet Market Ryan.JPG
Stella Fong
Ryan Johnson purchased the long established with his wife Julie in 2017. They have kept the business intact only making additions to the deli restaurant menu and to the Montana Made items.

‘Tis the season of gift giving. For this holiday, consider presenting something made from under our Big Sky to friends and loved ones. Chalet Market, The Spiked Olive, Yellowstone Caviar and Montana Block Co. may have some options for even your most difficult gift recipient. With online and phone ordering capabilities, shopping for products from Montana can be easily accomplished from the comfort of your own home with shipment provided by the business.

Chalet Market

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Stella Fong
The original Chalet Market started by Dean Cromwell in 1989 is located on 24th Street West in Billings.

Dean Cromwell founded Chalet Market in 1981. The deli restaurant and outlet for Made in Montana products recently changed hands. Ryan and Julie Johnson moved to Billings from Colorado wanting to be closer to family. Ryan grew up near Chalet Market, remembering riding his bike to the market, and eating lunch there when he attended West High School.

When they purchased the business in 2017, his father’s main request was for Ryan and his wife to not change “the Italian.” The Johnsons have honored the legacy that has been established with the market so deli items have remained intact with new additions and Montana products now number around 150. The Johnsons recently opened a downtown branch in the basement of the First Interstate building.

Chalet Market’s products range from Montana Made meats of sausages, snack sticks, and jerky to jams and jellies, tea and candies. Handmade soups and lotions are also available along with gifts for our canine companions.

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Stella Fong
The Spiked Olive opened by Gina Gina Ceartin is located in a strip mall in Midtown Billings.

To simplify shopping, Chalet Market offers several gift packages for different interests and price points. For example, The Wild West #7 includes Beef Mountain Sausage, Chalet Summer Sausage, Chalet Honey Mustard, Cheddar and Swiss Cheese, and Huckleberry Cordials. Johnson shared, “We offer a balance of sweet and savory in our gift baskets.”

The Spiked Olive

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Stella Fong
Owner Gina Ceartin opened The Spiked Olive six years ago to sell boutique olive oil and vinegars. She has combination gift packages readied for the holiday shopper.

Six years ago, Gina Ceartin opened up The Spiked Olive, a gourmet olive oil and vinegar shop in Midtown Billings. In 600-square-feet of sales space, Ceartin offers 18 flavors of olive oils and 24 of vinegars. “My dad has known our distributor for about 40 years. They decided that they needed to expand their olive oil business. They owned an olive oil mill in Tanzania and wanted to expand to Montana. I was staying at home with the kids and we just decided to open Spike Olive up.” At the time her children were four and five years old.

For the everyday cook, Ceartin suggests having a plain extra virgin olive oil along with a garlic flavored oil. She said, “With garlic oil, you can’t go wrong. You can use it on everything.”

Ceartin also has already assembled gift packages for customers to choose from. For now, orders can be made over the phone while she is still working out the particulars for an online order site.

Montana Block Co.

Mitchell Martishius works as an electrician by day and a kitchenware wood maker by night and weekends. His craft came from working with his father a young child. Then “I made a cutting board for my wife, and then friends wanted one,” Martishius shared of how his side career began.

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Stella Fong
Mitchell Martishius, owner and founder of Montana Block Co. started his business after he made a cutting board for his wife. His products became popular with friends.

From a workshop behind his house, he makes cutting boards, butcher blocks, trays and salad tongs with black walnut, hickory, cherry and maple woods.

For a butcher block, the process begins with rough lumber cuts that are glued together. “Once glued together, its sanded, cut again, planed,” Martishuis said. “There’s lots of gluing and sanding.” The boards are then soaked in mineral oil for 24 hours and then protected with bees wax.

Montana Block Co. products can be found online, and at ZEST Kitchen and Cookware Store in downtown Billings.

Yellowstone Caviar

In 1989 the Montana Legislature approved a bill to allow the Glendive Chamber of Commerce to collect and sell paddlefish roe. Over the years, the proceeds from this effort, totaling over a million dollars, have gone back to the community. Recently, Executive Director Billie Jo Pew shared that Circle, Montana received funds for playground equipment and Miles City received city sidewalks in front of the Miles City Academy.

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Stella Fong
Yellowstone Caviar was started in 1989 when the Montana Legislature approved a bill to allow the Glendive Chamber of Commerce to collect and sell paddlefish roe.

Gina Roos, President of the Glendive Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture described the paddlefish, “They are prehistoric fish, actually, and they have a big paddle for their nose which makes them very identifiable and very unique.”
The fish range in size from 50 to 100 pounds and can grow to seven feet long. During paddlefish season which can range from May to the end of June, people line the shores to catch these giant fish as they migrate from Lake Sakakawea into the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. Once a thousand fish have been caught, the season is closed.

The fish are snagged with fishermen using deep sea fishing equipment with heavy line and a large treble hook. “You cast out and reel in slowly until you snag it, and once you snag it, you’re supposed to yell ‘fish on’ so everybody can get their lines out of the way so you can reel in,” Pew explained. In reeling in, the fisherman does not know what he has caught as according to Pew, there are other fish such as catfish, carp and skip jack in the water along with branches.

On the shore, a fish and wildlife representative will make sure the fish is returned to the water safely on days that fish must be released and recorded on days the fish can be harvested. On harvest days, the fish is brought to a station the chamber has set up so the roe can be collected and fish cut up.

The roe is brought back to the processing plant where once it is rinsed and salted, they are allocated into various size containers and then frozen. Customers can call the Glendive Chamber of Commerce to order roe.

From here under the Big Sky, there are bounty and treasures that can be shared with family and friends this holiday season.


Chalet Market
24th Street West
401 North 31st Street

Montana Block Co.

The Spiked Olive
1216 16th Street West, Suite 37

Yellowstone Caviar
Glendive Chamber of Commerce
808 N Merrill
Glendive, Montana 59330

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.