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Dirk is a native of Laurel, Montana where, while in high school, he began his restaurant career at his mom’s new business venture, the Owl Café. Upon graduation from high school, Dirk moved to Portland, Oregon where he attended the Western Culinary Institute. After living and working in the Portland area for several years, Dirk returned to Montana and took the reins at the Owl Café. While there, he instilled farm to table philosophies, and worked on the civic planning group Laurel Alive and the Laurel Urban Renewal Agency. In 2011, Dirk became the executive chef at the Hilands Golf Club and most recently has added the role as Food and Beverage Director to his responsibilities. Dirk is a member of the Chefs & Cooks of Montana and was named Chef of the Year in 2013.
Chef Carl Kurokawa worked in numerous hotels and restaurants on three different islands in his home state of Hawaii before relocating to Montana in 1980. After three years as the Executive Sous Chef at the Billings Sheraton and a year as Manager of the Carriage Inn at Twin Lakes Village in Idaho, he took the position of Executive Chef at Bozeman’s Riverside Country Club. In 1987, Chef Carl returned to Billings as Executive Chef of the Radisson Northern Hotel for a year.
The next six years, Chef Kurokawa was Chef at DeVerniero’s Ristorante until 1995, when he and two partners purchased Juliano’s Restaurant. Chef Carl and Juliano’s have received numerous awards, including the DiRoNa Award as one of the distinguished restaurants in America, one of only three establishments in Montana to receive this distinction. Chef Carl serves on the board of the Chefs and Cooks of Montana and was named “Chef of the Year” three straight years from 1987 to 1989.
From an early age, Chef Sarah Seltvedt knew exactly what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. Her lifelong passion for cooking and hospitality began in the kitchens of her mother and grandmother, where she developed a love for the art of cooking.
Following her passion, Seltvedt sought professional training at one of the first “Farm-to-Table” culinary schools in the country— Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts located in Boulder, Colo., where she learned the importance of using whole animals, preservation, local products, and sustainable practices. Not only is she skilled in this area, but Seltvedt also went a bit further and completed the Court of Master Sommeliers and Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) for wine education and is currently working towards her Level 3 WSET certificate.
Seltvedt developed her culinary skills under the supervision of some of the finest food experts in the industry including nominees of the James Beard Award and winners of Food & Wine Best New Chefs such as Stewart Woodman, Mark Fischer, Mitch Mayers, and Timothy Fischer. For this purpose, Seltvedt honed her skills by working at several prestigious restaurants including St. Regis in Aspen, Colo., The Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Fla., and The Ivy Hotel and Loews Hotels in Minneapolis, Minn. Most recently, Seltvedt worked as the Executive Chef at Bigsby’s Folly Craft Winery and Cellar Door in Denver, Colo., where she learned the art of pairing wine and food by masterfully combining the two into her culinary style.
Today, Seltvedt calls Billings, Mont., home and is currently the Executive Chef and Food & Beverage Director at the Northern Hotel, where she oversees the operations of Bernie’s Diner, TEN Restaurant, and banquet operations. Seltvedt would best describe her cooking style as locally inspired and regionally distinctive. She uses mostly traditional French techniques with a fresh perspective. She brings this culinary influence, wine knowledge, and elevated practices to the food and beverage department while rebuilding the post-pandemic world of hospitality.
Nick Steen embarked on his culinary journey at the renowned Yellowstone Club, where her first honed his skills and ignited his passion for the art of cooking. For the next 13 years, he worked as a chef in the growing culinary scene in the Big Sky/Bozeman area. Nick’s heart never strayed far from his hometown, his passion for his roots helped make the decision to return to Billings, Montana where he was raised, bringing his culinary expertise back to his beloved community.
Nick Steen’s culinary philosophy is characterized by a modern twist on classic dishes, elevating comfort food to gourmet heights, with a dedication to personalization, he understands that comfort means something different to everyone. He takes great joy in creating dishes that resonate with everyone’s unique tastes. Walkers, Nick’s culinary sanctuary in Billings, embodies his vision of providing not just food but a sense of place. Stepping into Walkers should feel like a warm, inviting, and truly welcoming experience, a testament to Nick’s commitment to Montana-style hospitality. Walkers embodies a commitment to its community, adding a touch of Montana’s warm hospitality to every dish while elevating Billings’ exceptional culinary experiences.
Nick’s ambition to firmly establish Billings as a destination for outstanding cuisine is heightened by his remarkable culinary journey that has garnered recognition far and wide. Named a Top 10 Chef of the Northwest by the influential online publication, The Culture Trip, along with a prominent spot on Zagat’s list of the Top 10 Reasons to Visit Yellowstone National Park, showcasing his ability to leave a lasting impression on locals and visitors alike. Perhaps his most esteemed achievement to date, Nick Steen was named a finalist for the prestigious 2020 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Rocky Mountain Region award. This nomination underscores his unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of culinary excellence and his tireless dedication to elevating the Billings culinary scene.
Growing up in Michigan, I have always had a deep appreciation for the great outdoors and her bounties. I have always had a passion for cooking, and using the freshest and most natural ingredients we could find or harvest. After working as a firefighter in Michigan I soul searched around the country, and ended up finding myself in Montana, corporately managing 5 stores for Luckys Market. I decided that the corporate game wasn’t for me anymore, and took a risk to follow my dream of cooking. I started my very first restaurant job almost 6 years ago at the High Horse Saloon as a prep cook, and have gotten a taste of success and haven’t looked back since. I am now the Executive Chef of the High Horse and all of our catering endeavors. This journey would have never left the ground had it not been for the constant love and support from both my wife Rachel, and Reid and Shawna Pyburn.