They say that there’s no better way to experience the “soul” of a town than through its food, and that’s especially true in Whitefish. Dollar-for-dollar and pound-for-pound, the Flathead Valley community has one of the most active, interesting – and eclectic – dining scenes of any mountain town in the West.
Sample the community’s eclectic dining scene during Feast Whitefish, May 11-19.
The Feast opens with the third annual Distiller’s Fest, 5:30-8 p.m. May 11 at Grouse Mountain Lodge. Enjoy “signature” cocktails and spirits from 10 Montana micro-distilleries, and appetizers from eight of Whitefish’s top restaurants and caterers. The lineup for this year’s Distiller’s Fest will be a “Who’s Who” of the finest distillers in the Big Sky State, and the top chefs in Northwest Montana. Show up early to help determine the winners of this year’s People’s Choice Award for the top Specialty Cocktail, and the Best Taste of the Feast Award for the event’s finest appetizer!
Experience Whitefish’s unique culinary culture during Restaurant Week, May 14-19. Local restaurants offering special “value” menus during the five-day culinary affair, designed to entice visitors to return to their favorite restaurants and experience new ones.
Who makes the Big Sky’s best burger? Find out (and cast your vote) during the second annual Burger Battle, noon-3 p.m. May 19 at Cypress Yard event center. A host of local eateries put their best burgers forward … and let the audience do the judging! The Burger Battle is seasoned with live music, spring sunshine (hopefully!) and an array of local micro-brews.
The fine dining highlight of this year’s Feast is the Grand Gala winemaker dinner, … a creative culinary collaboration prepared by six of the most popular – and talented — chefs in the northern Rocky Mountains, accompanied by award-winning wines from Washington, Oregon, California and beyond!
This year’s Grand Gala, May 15, will be hosted by Chef Tim Good at the Last Chair Kitchen & Bar. This creative culinary collaboration is prepared by six of the most popular – and talented –chefs in the northern Rocky Mountains, and accompanied by award-winning wines from Washington, Oregon, California and beyond.
Among the star chefs:
Host Tim Good, Last Chair Kitchen and Bar, got his start in the restaurant industry 24 years ago at the Barbary Fig in St. Paul, shortly before graduating from Macalester College with a degree in Biology. Realizing food was his true passion, he continued working at Mediterranean and French restaurants in the Twin Cities and northern Minnesota before deciding to head west in pursuit of mountains and fresh powder. He landed in the Flathead Valley in 1998 and has since honed his craft in a variety of Whitefish restaurants, including Moguls, Cafe Kandahar, Tupelo Grille and Wasabi.
He and his wife, Ali, launched The Cuisine Machine, a mobile catering company, for a decade, before purchasing the old Haskill Station, and transforming it into the Last Chair Kitchen and Bar, where Tim continues to share his passion for cooking and creativity by offering both eclectic dishes and twists on familiar comfort food utilizing locally grown and sourced products whenever possible. Tim was voted Whitefish’s #1 chef in last year’s “Best of Whitefish” awards, and took home top honors in last year’s Feast Whitefish “Battle of the Burgers.”
His motto remains: “Love people. Cook them tasty food.”
Chef Andy Blanton, Cafe Kandahar, began his culinary career while working as a dishwasher at the age of 15, and enrolled at the Culinary Arts Institute of Louisiana in Baton Rouge. His first job as a professional cook was at Commanders Palace in New Orleans, recipient of the James Beard Award for Most Outstanding Restaurant in 1996.
There he learned to appreciate the depth within each dish, pay attention to details such as texture, mouth feel, presentation, eye appeal, and flavor – and how these elements combine for each and every palate.
After working Brigtsen’s under award-winning chefs Frank Brigtsen and Susan Spicer, he moved to Whitefish for a change of pace and scenery.
After six years as executive chef at Café Kandhar, Andy, along with his parents, purchased the restaurant in 2006. Chef Blanton has been featured in numerous publications, notably Wine Enthusiast, Sunset, and Travel and Leisure magazines, been nominated four times for the coveted James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in the Northwest, and was invited to cook at the James Beard House, a culinary rite of passage and a distinguished honor.
Chef Ben Heese, Whitefish Mountain Resort, oversees the menus at three restaurants as well as special events and weddings on the Mountain.
While earning his bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, he worked at a Cajun restaurant, and completed internships at Keystone resort in Colorado. After discovering Whitefish on a road trip, he started rolling sushi at Wasabi, and eventually worked his way up to kitchen manager and sous chef. During the last two years, he’s introduced exciting additions to Whitefish Mountain eateries, while continuing to provide high-quality “ski area classics.”
Also featured are Chef Jeremy Grossman, Abruzzo Italian Kitchen; Chef Chris DiMaio, Three Forks Grill; and a Mystery Chef tba.