Meet the Chef: Beth Dix

A conversation with the founder and chef of the Salty Calf about creating dishes that are healthy, fresh and accessible in the Flathead Valley

By Denali Sagner
Steak, arugula and cheddar sandwich from The Salty Calf. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Beth Dix boils down the ethos of her Kalispell eatery to three words: custom, comfort cuisine. Dix is the founder and chef at the Salty Calf, a grab-and-go style market in downtown Kalispell. In the Salty Calf’s kitchen, Dix and her team focus on preparing high-quality dishes that are both healthy and accessible to everyday families. 

Dix grew up in Virginia before moving to Seattle in her mid-twenties. In Seattle, she worked in restaurants where she developed culinary and pastry skills. The Salty Calf came to life in 2022 with the goal of delivering artisanal, homemade meals on-the-go.  

The Salty Calf’s menu is wide-ranging, from shepherd’s pie to pulled pork enchiladas to Thai peanut noodles. For Dix, this is key in today’s day and age, when one family can have a variety of different culinary preferences. Dessert is always on tap, too, an homage to Dix’s days in the pastry world. The Salty Calf boasts treats like oatmeal cookies with tart cherries, spice cake with a pumpkin cheesecake filling and key lime pie. 

Flathead Living sat down with Dix to discuss the vision behind the Salty Calf, balancing quality with affordability, and the chef’s favorite in-season ingredients this summer. The following is an edited excerpt from that conversation.

Beth Dix and Blake Valla of The Salty Calf, a grab and go market and caterer in Kalispell. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

FLATHEAD LIVING: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your culinary background? 

BETH DIX: I grew up on the East Coast, in Virginia. Thirty years ago – I’m 54 years old – I moved over to Seattle to be closer to where my father lived. I worked in some really nice restaurants and private clubs where I was under the tutelage of some amazing chefs and some pastry chefs, which is where I came up with my baking skills. I do not have any formal training, but I certainly have a ton of on-the-job training.

FL: How did the Salty Calf come to life? 

BD: I’ve been in this valley for 20 years now. I began sharing kitchens in a number of different locations throughout the valley. When this space became available, I decided that I would continue to do my catering out of this kitchen space, as well as utilize the front area. I felt like there was a great need in the valley for a place where people could come in and stop after work or for lunch and grab something that was made honestly with no preservatives. We make everything here from scratch – all of our sauces, all of our salad dressings, everything. We decided to make some grab-and-go meals that are fully cooked and people can just reheat quickly.

Latte, bacon cheddar scone and pumpkin chocolate chip bread. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon
Shrimp corn chowder from The Salty Calf. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

FL: It seems like the Salty Calf’s menu is pretty wide-ranging. How did you develop your menu of grab-and-go options? 

BD: In today’s world, I have noticed that within one family, people have a variety of different tastes. I have worked in many different ethnic-based restaurants, and so I felt like I could expand into doing some multi-ethnic foods in here. We do a lot of comfort foods, we do some Asian varieties, we do some Mexican varieties. We decided to incorporate a little bit of everything so people can come in and take care of their family in one place.

We’ll have people who will come in and get a meatloaf and a Thai peanut noodle for their kids because everybody eats so differently now. 

FL: Do you also do desserts?

BD: We do. I have a pretty good background in pastries. We do specialty cakes in here like wedding cakes. We do all of our own desserts. Our key lime pie is probably our top seller here. People just love it. We rotate the fruit on top of our cheesecakes. We do a chocolate cake that’s really moist, and people love that too. We do scones and breakfast breads. 

Tuna niçoise salad from The Salty Calf. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon
Thai peanut salad with chicken. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

FL: You mentioned making your sauces and dressing in-house. Could you talk a bit more about what goes into sourcing your ingredients and making fresh options? 

BD: We source things from the freshest place that we can find, but we don’t necessarily do all the organic farm deliveries in here because we do want to keep these at reasonable prices. There are a lot of people who come in here and buy for their families and their parents that are aging and so forth. 

That’s what people want. They want to come into a place where they feel like it’s a neighborhood spot, and they can get something that makes sure that you’re getting good, honest food at a reasonable price. That is the vision I followed when I came here.

FL: Do you have any dishes that are your favorites to make?

BD: That one always kind of stumps me. I would say my real love will steer me toward the Mediterranean style foods. Nice herbs and garlic, fresh tomatoes. I really like to make what is in season. 

Now that summer is coming around, all these beautiful herbs are coming. We get arugula. The little microgreens are coming in. Seafood, right now, feels like a really nice thing. We’ll be doing fresh buddha bowls in here with beets and goat cheese. Just lighter, more vegetable-driven things that we can put it into our case right now. All of that’s starting to pop up.

The Salty Calf, a grab and go market and caterer in Kalispell. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon