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 Rex Restaurant Bar and Grill closed the day after Valentine’s Day a year ago. The Rex Partnership made the decision to shut down the restaurant with no advance notice to the community.  A handwritten sign on the door announced its closing.

Stella Fong

From Fried Chicken to Bibimbap, Chef Bill Baskin took me to two of his favorite eateries in Bozeman, Montana. He knows food after working at restaurants as The Fat Duck in London and Alinea in Chicago, and then heading kitchens at Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky and Open Range in Bozeman. These days he is director of the culinary arts program at Gallatin College, a part of Montana State University.

Stella Fong

On Friday February 23, Walkers celebrated 25 years. Executive Chef Mike Callaghan returned to cook old favorites and John Roberts of Pan Blanco spirited the customers with Latin jazz.

In downtown Billings, Walkers has renewed and rebranded. In 1993 Bill Honaker and his brother James opened up the downtown dining establishment named after their father, an OB-GYN in town. James has moved on to his own restaurant, Bistro Enzo located in the west end of town.

Stella Fong

At 4 o’clock on a snowy Tuesday afternoon, Teresa Twichel, Lexington Campbell, Jacy Powell and Kazmira Martinez are cooking away in Mrs. Haley Barker’s room. The team of four are preparing to compete at the Montana ProStart Invitational the weekend of March 3 and 4 in Missoula, Montana at Missoula College. The teams compete in two categories: Culinary and Management.


Stella Fong

On this January morning in Billings, darkness hung heavy in the snowy coldness.  But on 17th Street West in Billings, light emerged through the windows of Caramel Cookie Waffles. At 5:00 a.m., Jan Boogman began the day making the caramel cookie stroopwafels he and his wife, Judy have been selling for the last 30 years.

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.

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