Flavors Under the Big Sky

Stella Fong

For the fourth straight summer, pop up restaurant Piccola Cucina of Ox Pasture will cook up a taste of Sicily in Red Lodge. Here, owner and Chef Phillip Guardione shares the food from his family. With Chef Benedetto Bisacquino or more lovingly known as, Chef Benny, the cuisine from the largest island in the Mediterranean will be offered up under the Beartooths until late fall.

Arcadia Publishing

Lynn Donaldson-Vermillion makes food pretty. As a travel photographer food takes center-stage in the visuals she records. In capturing  images of adventure and exploration, she freezes a moment in time, “Interiors, exteriors, action, and always food and so it was one piece of a bigger story I was shooting, but I always loved shooting food through travel and that’s how I got into food photography.”

Exterior of the Buffalo Block restaurant.
Stella Fong / Yellowstone Public Radio

Flavor Moments recently checked in with three Billings restaurants owners about how they stayed afloat during Montana’s month long stay at home order. In this week’s Flavor Moment, Stella Fong heads back to Bistro Enzo, Buffalo Block and Fancy Sushi Asian Fusion to hear how the first week back to sit down dining went.

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.