The 2017 Food Issue

Showcasing the region's marquee meals, sumptuous spirits and premier chefs

By Beacon Staff
The Wagyu sliders with quail eggs from The Firebrand in Whitefish on Feb. 9, 2017. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Food brings us together.

Since the beginning of time, families have gathered around kitchens and dining room tables to share meals, in times of sorrow and moments of jubilation. It doesn’t matter where you were born or where you are now, we all gather with loved ones to break bread and hoist drinks in celebration. It is one of the traditions we all have in common.

Every February, when days are cold and the nights are still long, the Flathead Beacon turns its attention to the communal culinary tradition. Over the past few weeks, we have tracked down warm drinks to keep the chill away, exquisite recipes to challenge even the most experienced home cook, and talked to the premier chefs of the Flathead Valley to learn their favorite eats.

This week, we celebrate the finer things in life and learn that perhaps the best thing about a great meal isn’t the food on the table but the people around it.

Bon appetite from our family to yours.


The Cheesesteak sandwich at Pig and Olive in Whitefish. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Where the Chefs Eat

Seven of the Flathead Valley’s top professional chefs reveal where they go to grab a bite when they’re not in their own restaurants

By Tristan Scott

They labor in obscurity while cooking the food we love to eat, construct seasonal menus that dazzle our taste buds and leave us in awe of their culinary mastery.

The Flathead Valley hosts an impressive tribe of gourmands with a diverse array of unique talents, and apart from the culinary epicenters of Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, this corner of Montana stands out in the Northwest for its high-quality restaurants.

But where do the top chefs go to eat when they want to take their appetite off-campus, and what do they nosh on? READ MORE >>>


Tenderloin bordelaise sauce, shrimp, creamed spinach stuffed tomato shrimp dijon, butter compound and shallot rings, pictured. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

A Recipe from the Chef’s Table

FVCC’s Howard Karp challenges home cooks with a surf-and-turf dish featured at the school’s Chef’s Table dinners

By Justin Franz

Chef Howard Karp calls the Flathead Valley Community College’s kitchen a culinary laboratory.

Every day, students at FVCC’s Culinary Institute of Montana get to experiment with the knowledge they have gathered in the classroom. Sometimes they burn a steak or dry out a chicken breast, but it’s OK. Laboratories are made for mistakes. They are made for learning.

But there are some days when mistakes are unacceptable — the days when perfection is the rule, not the exception. Those are the days when Chef Karp and his students host a culinary delight called Chef’s Table. READ MORE >>>


Dirt Rich Composting in Columbia Falls. Beacon File Photo

Expanding a Dirt Empire

Columbia Falls composting business DIRT Rich adds clients and acreage, will begin selling compost this spring

By Molly Priddy

In an ideal world, all food portions would be perfect for every person, all produce would be used in the correct amount of time, nothing would spoil, and no one would take up space in the landfill with food waste that could be used elsewhere.

We may not live in that reality quite yet, but Alissa LaChance at DIRT Rich Composting hopes to make it more of a possibility for visitors and residents in the Flathead Valley. READ MORE >>>


Deviled eggs from Kiska’s Southern Kitchen in Kalispell. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

For Starters: Yolk It Up

Normally a co-star ingredient, eggs are starting to take center stage in appetizers and salads

By Molly Priddy

Eggs are among chefs’ most versatile foods. They can be a standalone protein, a garnish, or help bind mixtures and build structure for baked goods.

But for some restaurants in the valley, these protein powerhouses are becoming the star attraction, especially in appetizers. So, for many, the question has become less about which came first, the chicken or the egg, and more about which they should eat first, the entrée or the egg.

With so many great restaurants and caterers in the Flathead, it was tough to choose just three of these eggsellent dishes, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for other interesting egg creations. READ MORE>>>


Brian Scotti-Belli, head chef and co-owner of 406 Bar and Grill. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

In the Kitchen with Brian Scotti-Belli

A conversation with head chef and co-owner of downtown Kalispell staple 406 Bar & Grill

By Dillon Tabish

Two years ago this month, Brian Scotti-Belli and his wife, Lorraine, took over North Bay Grille, a downtown Kalispell staple. With a background working for acclaimed chef Wolfgang Puck and a lifetime in the kitchen, Scotti-Belli brought his unique pallet to the new 406 Bar & Grill, which offers a flavorful and revolving array of entrees and appetizers, from the brie burger to stroganoff and seafood. Of course, there’s a classic lineup of charcoal-grilled steaks and 12 taps of unique craft beers, alongside the full bar.

The Beacon sat down with Brian before another busy shift to chat about the life of a downtown restaurateur. Here is Scotti-Belli in his own words. READ MORE >>>


Spotted Bear Spirits’ Powder Day. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Hot Drinks for Winter Sipping

Ward off the winter chills with these delicious hot drinks

By Tristan Scott

In addition to flickering candles, a crackling fire and a warm blanket, a hot drink is a key constituent in the ambient armor we don every year to ward off a spirit-sucking Rocky Mountain winter.

When the weather outside feels frightful, we take comfort in snuggling up indoors with a hot cocktail, a mug of java or a cup of tea to thaw out the soul. There are classics like mulled wines and ciders, toddies of all kinds, as well as less orthodox varietals and novelties.

The Flathead Beacon sought out four signature hot drinks from throughout the valley and compiled them in this flavorful breakdown.

Whether you’re seeking an aperitif, a digestif, or just something decadently delicious, this list of local libations will stoke your spirits. READ MORE>>>

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