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

The world of wine ferments its own speak. In describing the aroma, taste and sensation in a glass, descriptors abound. Flavors of fruit and non-fruit are not purposefully added to wine, but develop as grape juice ferments into a spirited drink. The words used to communicate what is sensed come from experience and memory. We identify smell and taste from what we have already sensed in our lifetime.

Stella Fong

Most morel mushroom hunters keep secrets, stored deep in the chambers of their minds, holding the location of mushrooms past. This burden of hiding information, and then the want of recognition, sometimes compels them to share what they know, only to be held back by protectiveness and paranoia.

Stella Fong

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and your feed him for a lifetime.”
-Maimonides

Michael McCormick relocated to Livingston to pursue his love of fly-fishing, but now spends most of his time casting towards the Livingston Food Resource Center. The Center, opened two years ago, includes a food pantry, community kitchen and gathering space to nourish Livingston and Park County.


Executive Chef David Maplethorpe retired from the Rex Bar and Grill the day after Valentine’s Day. With the sudden closing of the iconic restaurant, Maplethorpe exited earlier than his planned May 20th date, after fulfilling his commitments with the Montana State University Billings Wine and Food Festival. 

(Flickr Creative Commons) (https://flic.kr/p/9Twmn8)

The current state of our food system is the subject of a series of films to be aired in Billings.

As YPR's Stella Fong reports, the films show where our food comes from, who grows it, and where it goes.

Vine-ripened tomatoes. Sugary-sweet corn. Crunchy-spicy radishes. There’s no better time than the present, while winter lurks, to plan your summer harvest. We need hope, visions of deliciousness, especially after living through one of the heaviest Montana snowfalls in 30 years.

A beautiful and plentiful bounty requires thoughtful planning and preparation. Kate Rosetto, of Kate’s Garden, and Claire Johnson, of the Gainan’s Garden Center, provide hints for a successful harvest from sketching out a plan for the garden plot to rotating crops, to growing enough for preserving.

In our busy lives, getting dinner on the table can be challenging. Making sure your family receives nourishment not only involves the act of cooking, but also planning and shopping even before pans can be pulled out, and the stove and oven turned on. But these days, fresh food for dinner can be easily secured. Pre-packaged ingredients for cooking dinner are one click away on your smart phone or tablet. Then at the grocery store, a wide selection of ready to cook and eat food is available.

The holidays are upon us and this is the time of the year that food traditions from years past are recreated and savored.  For Lori Smith, it is fruitcake, Carolyn Holmlund leftse, and Chef Jeffrey Cooper latkes.

Fruitcake evokes sentiments of love or hate. For those who are enamored with this aged, dried fruit laden spirited cake, there is a sense of pride in cherishing this tradition. 

Instead of the traditional Thanksgiving feast brimming with animal-based products, a plant-based option could become the norm this season. The traditional meal of roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, and green beans with cream of mushroom soup can be re-created with flavorful plant-based choices. Even pumpkin pie can be made without milk, butter, and eggs.

Lynn Donaldson

On Billings’ Montana Avenue in Billings, Brewmaster Michael Uhrich of Carter’s Brewing and Executive Chef Jeremy Engebretson of Lilac are brewing new flavors. While many think of pairing food with wine, the duo is partnering beer with food, beyond the ballpark hot dogs and mass produced aluminum canned libations advertised with frogs and beautiful women.

Pages