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.

Stella Fong

A Flying Burger. A Bayou Wrap. Chicken Fried Steak. These good eats can be found in Billings for under $10. At King’s Hat, Muzzle Loader Café, and Rockets Gourmet Wraps and Sodas, food can be had for less than one Hamilton bill or ten Washingtons.  Like these recognizable and time-honored leaders on the face of our dollar bills, the three eateries are dining establishments in Montana’s Trailhead’s foodscape.  King’s Hat has been in the Billings for over 70 years while the Muzzle Loader Cafe for more than 60, and Rockets Gourmet Wraps and Sodas for close to two decades.

Stella Fong

One of the most memorable images I have of Paris is one with a baguette. From my hotel window I saw a man in a blue chapeau with a plaid scarf wrapped around his neck carrying a long baguette leaving the bakery across the way. There was something romantic about securing a freshly baked loaf of bread, and even more when I realized it was my husband. 

Stella Fong

The dark chocolate cake edged with perfectly piped ribbons on a bright white cake stand.  The auburn browned turkey on a silver platter garnished with glistening identical cuts of carrot.  These are images on the cover of food magazines. You are mesmerized, and then say “I can do that.” So you challenge yourself and spend the hours securing the right ingredients, and then preparing and cooking in the kitchen. At the very end, your cake and turkey vaguely resembles the photo. Furthermore, you are not all that sure the tastes warranted the effort.

Stella Fong

The Thanksgiving season focuses our awareness on food and volunteerism. Food represents abundance, the blessings we have in our lives and the bounty we want to share with those close to us, and to make connections with others.
 

Stella Fong

Back in April, my husband Joe Dillard had the privilege of learning how to make French Bread from Greg Patent. I gifted him a weekend where he could have hands on experience with an award winning cookbook author. Patent’s book Baking in America won him the James Beard Cookbook Award and finalist recognition for the International Association of Culinary Professionals Best Baking Book. Greg has become a mentor and has provided me invaluable support and advice in the culinary arena over the years.

Stella Fong

Veronika’s Pastry Shop is easy to walk by. From the sidewalk, the small storefront is unassuming.  White outline sketches of France’s Eiffel Tower and Russia’s Basil Cathedral mark the front window. However from the street when driving by, a red awning emblazoned with the shop’s name marks its location on Montana Avenue.

Stella Fong

As I write this post for the next Flavors Under the Big Sky, I send strength and hope to those in California, especially in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, and Lake Counties. Mother Nature has not been kind, but I know the human spirit perseveres. May time heal all the damage that has been done. May Mother Nature grant a reprieve for repair and renewal.

Stella Fong

Women chefs. Women produced wines. Chef Megan Jessee, Programs Manager for the Montana Restaurant Association Education Foundation is one of the chefs participating in the 2nd Annual ZONTA Sip and Savor. Jessee shared about the event, “I think it is the perfect partnership – female chefs female winemakers and ZONTA since their goal is to empower leaders, female leaders in our community.”   

Flavor Moments: MoAv Coffee

Sep 25, 2017
Stella Fong / YPR

A cup of java jolts those who enter MoAv Coffee at the corner of N 25th Street and Montana Avenue in the historic Carlin Hotel built in 1913.  Jeff Hosa, co-owner of MoAv coffee confessed, “We always say we are nerds about coffee.” From dawn to beyond dusk, this gathering space offers caffeine to bring pulse to life in the mornings or calm through wine and beer later in the day.

Stella Fong

Raghavan Iyer and James Dodge taught cooking class Savory Sweet: Tater Love for the 25th MSU Billings Foundation Wine and Food Festival.

The two, James Beard and IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) recognized cookbook authors and teachers returned to Montana to help raise scholarships. The class, based on Iyer’s latest book - Smashed Mashed Boiled and Baked-and Fried, Too! paid tribute to potatoes from around the world.

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