Stella Fong shares her personal love of food and wine through her cooking classes and wine seminars as well as through her writings in her Libations column for Magic Magazine and contributions to Yellowstone Valley Woman. In the summer of 2008, she received 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 on the West Coast for cooking schools such as Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, Macy’s Cellars, and Gelsons, and in Billings at the Billings Depot, Wellness Center, Copper Colander and the YWCA.
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 the summer of 2009 in collaboration with caterer Tom Nelson and Executive Chef Shane Weigel.
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 in her father’s grocery store, Martin’s Market, in Berkeley, California and have developed recipes for San Diego State University food services and the Kids Cooking Club. Fong’s articles have appeared in Cooking Light, the Washington Post, and Fine Cooking. More recently, she has written for Big Sky Journal, Western Art and Architecture, and Montana Quarterly. Fong judged the International Association of Culinary Professionals cookbook awards, chairing the program in 2010 and 2011. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Davis, and a general cooking certificate from the Culinary Institute of America. Fong has volunteered for the MSU Billings Wine & Food Festival for many years and chaired it in 2008 and 2009 with Susan Carlson.
Sue Rydquist, Montana native and former corporate manager and mortgage banker, is on her third career. Sue opened her retail store, Simply Wine, in 2005 as a means to be self-employed and follow a life-long passion for wine. Her thought was to put her previous experience to work, continue to learn about wine, and enable her habit of an occasional glass of wine at lunch. Sue earned her Sommelier Certification in 2007 and continues to study and travel, returning from central Italy in September, 2010.
2011-12 has been a year of big changes for Sue and Simply Wine: the store was relocated to Rimrock Mall, and the Simply Wine Bar opened inside the new store, offering wine by the bottle and glass. Most recently, The Bistro at Simply Wine opened specializing in fresh, healthy Mediterranean style fare including salads, paninis, handcrafted daily soup and, of course, Simply Wine’s signature gourmet cheese and meat boards.
Carolyn Korb can often be heard gushing about the joy of getting to turn your passion into your profession. A resident of Billings, Montana, Carolyn has happily allowed her passion for amazing food, wine and beer flow into her professional life. Acting as General Manager of The City Vineyard since 2001, her drive, passion and unbridled obsession with providing the community of Billings with amazing products has turned a small wine shop into two thriving businesses. This store houses more than 10,000 bottles of wine, a beer department full of local and import brews, a full gourmet market featuring artisan cheeses and a full service wine bar that features an ever changing selection of wines by the bottle and by the glass, wine flights, beer and artisan cheese boards. Carolyn and her knowledgeable team are passionate about not only providing an unsurpassed level of service, but also about educating their customers and welcoming them to the ever changing world of wine, beer and gourmet foods.
This is the story of two friends, a baby blue Chevy van and a lifelong love affair with food. Peggy Smith and Sue Conley made a fortuitous trip to the Bay Area in the mid 1970′s, arriving at the start of California’s now-legendary food revolution.
Peggy’s 17 years of experience in one of the most ingredient-centric kitchens in the world at Chez Panisse refined her knowledge of cheese gastronomy. While there, she experienced the cheeses of Randolph Hodgson from Neal’s Yard Dairy in London. With Neal’s Yard, Smith and Conley recognized a European model that they would emulate-that of producers, retailers and distributors of fine cheese. Smith also admired the cheeses of Jean d’Alos in Bordeaux; d’Alos has been hailed as one of the best affineurs, or ripeners, of cheese in France. Cheeses from these two distinguished producers were among the first that Cowgirl Creamery started selling and distributing.
Two decades, dozens of awards, two creameries, four retail stores and two thousand tons of cheese later, Cowgirl Creamery makes two fresh cheeses and eight aged cheeses under the Cowgirl name and distributes nearly 200 artisan cheeses from small- to mid-size cheesemakers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Cowgirl Creamery cheeses are sold nationally through Whole Foods Markets and to over 500 stores, independent cheese shops, farmers markets and restaurants.
Today, Peggy’s office is at Cowgirl Creamery’s distribution warehouse in Petaluma where she oversees handling, sales and distribution and makes sure everyone gets the cheese they ordered in perfect condition. She, along with Sue Conley, just released their first book, Cowgirl Creamery Cooks published by Chronicle Books.