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Flavors Moment: Bin 119

Nick Steen Gullings of Bin 119
Stella Fong
Nick Steen Gullings of Bin 119

Stella Fong: Co-owner and Chef Nick Steen Gullings, this year’s semifinalist for Best Chef: Mountain from the James Beard Foundation for his work at Walkers is starting a new project. Why Bin 119?

Nick Steen Gullings: Bin 119 was a place I fell in love with years ago with my wife. We came in and we sat down at what's called Table 119, as I've learned now, under the beautiful chandelier. And we sat down and we had a bottle rosé with a couple of friends. And I just remember thinking, holy smokes, this place is unbelievable.

So when the opportunity came up to be a part of something that had a real emotional connection for me, it was a no brainer.

Stella Fong: Although the concept for Bin 119 will remain the same, what changes will a customer be experiencing?

Nick Steen Gullings: Before the food tried to push the wine program, I think we're going to let the wine program push the food program and kind of reverse engineer it, which from a chef perspective is a little backwards, but I'm also kind of a wine guy, so I really want to see the wine drive the food side.

Stella Fong: Although Bin 119 will also feature craft beers from around the world. Gullings does have a leaning for wines.

Nick Steen Gullings: I'm an old world guy. We will have some of your staples. We're going to have to have some California cabs, but this is going to be really featured on the old world. A lot of French, a lot of Italy, really regionalized too. So it'd be a little bit of everything from Bordeaux to Tuscany.

Stella Fong: With some changes in the food and spirit program, what is happening with the interior?

Nick Steen Gullings: We're just giving it a major facelift. We're doing a lot of paint. We're resurfacing the bar. It's never had a day off. And so I have to give all the tables a chance to get refinished and resurfaced, bring in some paint, change a little bit of the lighting, but we're not going to take away from its core, which is this kind of quiet, soft ambiance and kind of niche little place.

Stella Fong: With this new enterprise, where will Gullings be cooking at Walkers or at Bin 119?

Nick Steen Gullings: I think the misconception for everybody is the chef is the one cooking every single dish. I think somehow they miraculously think we have nine arms and we cook every single thing. And I'm very fortunate that I've had an incredible team with me at Walker's for the last seven years. My chef de cuisine, John Baldwin, has been with me since my years in Big Sky over a decade ago. Our sous chef, Kyle's been with me. He was there when I first came to Walkers and left and came back and he's been with us now, you know, another four years, five years since then. And so that team kind of really does its thing. You know, I'm still going to be the guy driving the program. I'm going to continue to educate, nurture, mentor these guys.

Stella Fong: And who will be firing up the food at Bin 119?

Nick Steen Gullings: So with Bin, we've got an incredible staff that's already here and existing, and it's going to be the same thing. I'll be a little more involved over at Bin in the first few months. Just letting everybody kind of get their feet underneath them and really give them the support that they deserve because we kept all the staff. We didn't lose anybody that didn't want to go.

Stella Fong: Currently in the works, Steen is working on an authentic Italian menu. Dessert items will be created by a new member of the team.

Nick Steen Gullings: Seth Carlson, former chef of Giuliano's with Carl Kurokawa, has become our pastry chef right now with Walker's. He'll be also doing the pastry program for all of Bin as well.

Stella Fong: So what is Gullings’ want for Bin 119 and Walkers Grill?

Nick Steen Gullings: Both of these places are for the city and for the people that are there.

Stella Fong: This is Stella Fong for Yellowstone Public Radio news.

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.