2018 Guest Chefs and Presenters

Peter Birk

With more than 30 years of culinary experience, Executive Chef Peter Birk joined the Northern Hotel team in November 2017 to oversee the food and beverage direction of TEN, Bernie’s and Banquets.

Chef Birk’s career began in 1980 when he worked at his family-owned business, Spring River Inn, located in Riverton, Kansas. Over the span of 12 years, he worked his way up the culinary chain to become co-owner of the restaurant. Chef Birk also attended the Western Culinary Institute in Portland and interned at the Ritz-Carlton on the Plaza, Kansas City.

Most recently, Chef Birk was a task force Executive Chef traveling around the country working in various highly regarded hotels and resorts. Prior to that, in Seattle he held the title of Executive Chef at Hotel 1000 for three years and as Executive Chef at Ray’s Boathouse for 11 years. During his tenure he demonstrated an outstanding level of leadership and creativity in menu development and kitchen management. Over the duration of his career, Chef Birk has traveled extensively, studying various cooking techniques and leading culinary teams of well-known restaurants throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as in  Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Bozeman and Kansas City.

When Chef Birk is not cooking, he enjoys volunteering his time to annual charitable events and gardening.

Jeff Brauer

Chef Jeff Brauer, a Personal Chef in Big Sky, Montana, was born in Kentucky and raised in Montana. At a young age his interest in cooking was fueled by his mother, who cooked a variety of classical French dishes. As a young adult, Chef Jeff furthered his hands-on culinary education by eating his way through Europe, Northern Africa, the Caribbean and South America.

A graduate of Montana State University in Agricultural Business, and later from the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, British Columbia, Chef Jeff used his hands-on and academic educations in his position as sous chef for James Beard award-winning chef Chuck Schommer. In his three years of working with Schommer, Chef Jeff mastered the time and effort needed to make gourmet Montana food.

After working with Chef Schommer, Chef Jeff became the executive chef at the Newport Syndicate in Cincinnati, where his responsibilities included running a fine dining restaurant and large banquets, and catering events. His Montana roots brought him back to the state, and he enjoys providing gourmet Montana food to fellow Montanans and visitors to this region.

Mike Callaghan

Mike Callaghan is CEO of Callaghan Enterprises which specializes in providing restaurants and food service establishments with the tools needed to survive in a competitive environment. His most recent position prior to starting his own business was director of business development for Food Services of America in Billings, Montana where he spent 17 years. His primary role as director of business development was to consult and work with food service customers on the operational and financial aspects of their business. He has over 35 years of experience in the food service industry. He has degrees in hotel, restaurant and catering management from Athlone Hotel and Restaurant School, Ireland, and a culinary arts degree from City and Guilds of London, England.

He is a certified European-trained chef (CEC) and Food Management Professional (FMP). He has been part owner, managed and operated restaurants in Philadelphia, PA, Wilmington, DE, and Billings, MT. He has instructed numerous cooking classes in Billings over the past 18 years. In his spare time he teaches culinary and food safety classes throughout Montana and Wyoming. He has been a supporter and mentor to the ProStart Culinary Program in Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming for the past nine years.

He is also a certified ServSafe trainer with over three hundred national certification classes to his credit.

While he was the executive chef at Jack’s Firehouse restaurant in Philadelphia, it was recognized as a top-ten restaurant in the nation by Food & Wine, Bon Appétit and Gourmet magazines.

He was also the executive chef at Silk Purse Sow’s Ear in Wilmington, DE, voted best restaurant in the state by Food and Wine.

His most recent executive chef position prior to working at Food Services of America was at Walkers Grill, Billings.

Jim Carlson

Jim moved to Billings in the early ’80s, bringing with him a passion for great service and food. He studied under the tutelage of several talented chefs and continued to do so in Billings. Since settling in Billings, he has worked at and managed several restaurants and catering services, and is now the Chef at MorningStar Senior Living.

The joy, satisfaction and creative challenge of preparing and serving fine food is still what drives him today.

Jason Corbridge

Jason Corbridge is a native Montanan and resident chef of Billings. He has been instrumental in the local foods and scratch-cooking culture since 2007. In 2009, he opened and operated Café DeCamp, Billings’ first local foods and made-from-scratch based restaurant. He is currently executive chef at the Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill, which he has been a part of since its inception in 2016.

Jason will always practice discipline that includes using the best accessible ingredients and creating his own recipes tailored specifically to the environment that they are being served in.

Shea Dawson

Shea Dawson has always been passionate about beer, and when he took a “brewing science” course in college, he was hooked on brewing his own stuff.  He uses his knowledge and experience to brew beer that’s among the best in Montana. Shea is married with identical twin girls and two cats.  He spent 11 years as a finance professional with various roles in the energy industry. His last role was as the Finance Manager at the Billings Phillips 66 refinery, which brought him here to Billings.

Shea has an undergrad degree in Finance from New Mexico State and an MBA from Oklahoma State.  Besides drinking and making beer, he enjoys spending time with his three-year-old twin girls, training for triathlons and playing golf.

Jeremy Engebretson

Jeremy Engebretson is the chef and owner of Lilac, a downtown Billings Restaurant, serving American comfort food in an approachable, modern setting. Lilac has been named one of 100 restaurants listed in Best American Cuisine via Open Table, and Chef Jeremy has been nominated for Best Chef of the Northwest by the James Beard Foundation. Engebretson often partners with other talented local chefs and restaurants for special
dinners, as well as focusing on sourcing products from our regions farmers and ranchers.  

Recently, Engebretson added The Billings Petroleum Club to his list of accomplishments, serving as the General Manager. For more than 60 years, the Club has been the region’s premier gathering place for special events, lunch, dinner, and business meetings. He hopes to produce the same from, scratch regional approach to cooking for its members and guests to enjoy.

Jeremy started at a very young age as a busboy, dishwasher and eventually a line cook in his great-aunt’s restaurant, CC’s Family Cafe, in Glendive, Montana. After high school, he studied business in Missoula and continued to work toward his goal of owning a restaurant. Jeremy travels extensively to experience new flavors and trends in some of the country’s best restaurants.

Tyler Ellis

Tyler Ellis is currently chef at The Field House. Prior to this, he was with Last Chance Cider Mill & Pub, The Black Bunker Bar and Grill at Briarwood Golf Club, and Lilac. Before that, he was Sous Chef at the Northern Hotel, as well as a long tenure at The Rex, where he worked primarily side-by-side with Chef David Maplethorpe. Tyler’s passion for the restaurant industry has been nurtured through local cuisine. His passion for cooking originated with enjoying the wonderful meals his mother made for him and his father daily.

When Tyler isn’t working, he enjoys playing with his dogs, renovating his house, enjoying the outdoors with his girlfriend, Michelle, and golfing. He has grown up in Billings, graduating from Skyview, and wants to continue enjoying what Montana has to offer.

Dirk Frickel

Dirk is a native of Laurel, MT 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, OR 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.

Tom & Abigail Hinthorne

Tom and Abigail Hinthorne started their catering company — Abby’s Catering Company — fifteen years ago on a simple premise… create an experience to dine for.

Today, they source as much locally grown/harvested meat and produce as possible, providing a Montana terroir of flavor for their clients – yet are able to immerse into an ethnicity and offer menu selections at request of their guests. While Tom garnered accolades with his knowledge of grilling and barbecuing, Abby continues to amaze with her prowess in baking and desserts. There is a balance of savory, sweet, bitter, spicy and herbaceous that works into every meal. One of the best compliments recently paid to them by someone from abroad, “This tastes like home.”

Carl Kurokawa

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.

Marialucia Luongo

Marialucia Luongo was born in Naples and graduated in Modern Literature in 1980. She became a journalist and collaborated for many years with the national newspapers Il Mattino and La Republica as well as women’s magazine Donna e Donna Moderna, contributing to the fashion and lifestyle sections.

In 2004, she published her first book of ancient recipes Cucinaria: Letters from the Kitchen and started her cooking classes and seminars on the history of Italian cuisine.

Since 2006, she has taught the Italian language in Australia at the ANU in Canberra and in the United States at NYU and Queens College in New York City. Today she lives in Perugia, where she teaches cooking and Italian culinary traditions to foreigners, as well as Italian language and literature, in both Naples and Perugia.

Her passions are cooking and yoga, which have in common the wellness of body and mind, and searching for a balance of flavors, aromas, and moods that flow smoothly into the body like breath.

David Maplethorpe

David Maplethorpe is currently working at the Fortin Culinary Center as the Executive Chef and Culinary Instructor. David took this position after the iconic Rex Restaurant closed in February of 2017. Through his tenure at The Rex they had many honors, incuding, National Cattleman’s Beef Backer Award for innovator of the year in 2007. In 2017, The Rex was named one of the best steak houses in the United States by the Travel Channel.

David is a graduate of the University of the Pacific in California with an emphasis in political science. He followed his dream of teaching, which he did for a year and a half, and decided that was not for him. He wanted to cook, so pursued that dream. David was mentored in the French style by Chef Serge Delauge, who at the time was at the Westin Hotel in Denver. David then began to travel around the country working his way through many restaurants. Returning to the west coast, David took many continuing education courses at The Culinary Institute of America, both at Greystone in Napa Valley in California and in Hyde Park, New York.

David ultimately landed the position at The Rex in 1994, where you stayed until 2000. He then took a five-year hiatus moving to Tyler, Texas to help a friend open Dakota’s Chop House, followed by a move to Michigan Tech as their executive chef. In 2005 David returned to The Rex and remained as the executive chef until its closing in 2017. Even while living away from Billings, he returned each year to present the Rogue Chef Dinner with his best friend Executive Chef Carl Kurokawa of Julian’s Restaurant and to visit friends.

David has been consumed with the MSU Billings Foundation’s Festival for many years. He is currently co-chair for the Guest Chef Dinner and serves on the Live Auction and Steering Committees.

Chef Kathleen Moon

Kathleen Moon began her working life in the busy corporate world. For many years, her corporate career allowed her to travel around the world. Highlights during those days were when Moon had the opportunity to enjoy the cuisine of the country she was visiting and experience the magic in their restaurant kitchens. Food was the vital link to their culture and a way to savor the lifestyle in those countries. Those after-hour culinary experiences would play a major role in her second career as the owner/chef of the Laughing Horse Lodge in Swan Lake, Montana.

Since May of 2000, Kathleen has brought fresh ideas from her kitchen to the tables at the Laughing Horse Lodge and has enjoyed recognition in the Flathead Valley and beyond for providing excellent dining experiences for all who are fortunate to eat there. Always looking for new experiences, Kathleen closes the lodge when the season slows down and spends the winter away. Each year she travels to a different spot and immerses herself in the culture and kitchens. The beneficiaries of her travels are the lucky guests who visit the lodge and feast on fresh, new and delicious additions to her menu.

“You have to love what you cook. That allows me to be really creative. Never cook something you wouldn’t eat yourself.”

Doug Reed

Born and raised in Kansas, Doug Reed has had a 30-year history in the Tabletop/Home Décor Industry. Following his graduation from the University of Kansas in 1988, Doug worked as a sales agent representing some of the most iconic and prestigious brands in the tabletop/home décor world: Lalique, Portmeirion Potteries, Royal Doulton, Faberge, Charles Sadek Co., Riedel Crystal et. al. 

In 2003, Doug purchased the company he worked for and ran his own marketing firm catering to the Tabletop/Home Décor market under the title Doug Reed and Associates.

In 2009 Doug was offered a sales management position with Riedel Crystal, and in January of 2010, he closed his business and went to work directly for Georg (10th generation of the Riedel Family) and Maximilian Riedel (11th generation of the Riedel family). 

When not traveling the United States selling and promoting Riedel wineglasses, Doug lives in Overland Park, KS with his wife, Michelle, and their four children.

Tina Rulewicz

Founders Brewing Co. has grown around the simple philosophy: “We don’t brew beer for the masses. Instead, our beers are crafted for the chosen few, a small cadre of renegades and rebels who enjoy a beer that pushes the limits of what is commonly accepted as taste. In short, we make beer for people like us.”

Founders Brewing Co. has evolved into one of the most recognized breweries in the United States. It has been ranked among the top breweries in the world by Ratebeer.com for the last five years and has had several beers listed in the top 100 beers of the world on Beeradvocate.com. In addition, it has won six World Beer Cup medals, four European Beer Star medals and three Great American Beer Festival medals — 13 medals total across eight different beers.

As market manager for Founders Brewing Co., Tina oversees Washington, Northern Idaho and Montana.  She’s spent the last 15 years working in the sales and marketing arena.  Prior to becoming immersed in the craft beer scene while managing a craft beer, Irish and music pub, she was a ski instructor, published author, and a softball and competitive swimming coach. Her passion quickly evolved into a long-standing career.  After managing the restaurant, Tina worked for a couple of breweries in the Northeast before joining the Founders team three years ago.  Last year, she relocated across the country to be a part of Founders’ Northwest market expansion. 

Her passions include her family, Founders, motorcycle riding, golf, skiing, reading, animals, and watching sports. Let’s go Mets… next year.

Shawn Hamilton Smith

Shawn Hamilton Smith grew up in Easton, CT, a small suburb of New York City, where he started cooking at a young age under the influence of his grandmother Jean, and Chef/mentor Gerard Clinton of the Aspetuck Valley Country Club. At the age of 18, he moved to Salt Lake City, UT to attend the University of Utah and, of course, to ski. In order to financially fuel his winter endeavors, Shawn took to what was familiar — kitchens.

Eventually realizing that cooking was his passion, he enrolled in the culinary program at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Upon completion, he returned to Salt Lake and found a home as the Chef de Cuisine of the acclaimed Wild Grape Bistro. During this time, Shawn was recruited by the Michelin Starred Spruce restaurant in San Francisco, CA to assist in opening their Park City, UT-based restaurant of the same name. Under the tutelage of 2006 Food and Wine magazine best chef Mark Sullivan, Shawn honed his skills and developed a further understanding of the importance of simple, seasonal, and sustainable cuisine.

After Spruce, Shawn followed his passion for the outdoors to Bend, OR. It was while working in Bend, that he discovered his love for fly fishing, which would eventually drive him to the Bighorn River Lodge in Fort Smith, MT.  Now, three seasons in, Shawn has found a home at Bighorn River Lodge and splits his year between Montana and the Snowpine Lodge in Alta, UT.

Roxanne Spruance

Chef Roxanne Spruance creates innovative, seasonal food while respecting and incorporating regional traditions.  Roxanne entered the culinary world as a pastry chef apprentice in the highly regarded restaurant Blackbird in downtown Chicago, IL.  Working her way up in the Chicago restaurant industry, Roxanne gained valuable knowledge and experience in all aspects of the kitchen. During her tenure in Chicago, she was fortunate enough to work under Chefs Koran Greiveson, Elissa Narrow, Shawn McClain, Dale Levitski, and Christian Delouvrier.  

Roxanne was recruited to play field hockey at Michigan State University after high school. During her time at MSU, she received two degrees, a B.S. in Environmental Biology/Zoology and a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife.  She continued to cook in Chicago throughout college.  In 2010, Roxanne landed a coveted spot as chef de partie under world-renowned Chef Wylie Dufresne at NYC’s wd~50, where she took full advantage of the opportunity to absorb invaluable modern techniques into her repertoire and to explore and experiment with flavor profiles and menu creation. Her tenure at wd~50 was followed by a sous chef position at Blue Hill at Stone Barns under the guidance of Dan Barber, where the daily exposure to fresh and local ingredients reinforced her passion to continue to support that cause in her cooking today. She followed Blue Hill by consulting and opening New York’s Cafe Tallulah.  Roxanne joined Alison Eighteen as executive chef in April 2013.  It was here that she began to be known for her creative use of local ingredients and whole animal butchery while utilizing a wide range of techniques.  She received the coveted “Snail of Approval” certification awarded by Slow Food New York for chefs who have sustainably driven kitchens.  Believing that the best food comes from fresh, seasonal products, Roxanne is passionate about purchasing from local farmers.

Chef Spruance has been a featured chef at events such as Taste of the Times, Taste of New York Magazine, and the New York Wine and Food Festival.

In February 2013, Chef Spruance won Chopped on the Food Network. Her episode featured bacon as a main ingredient and showcased her skills and depth of techniques under pressure.

Growing up an athlete in Chicago, Chef Roxanne has taken her fearless, winning attitude toward sports and translated it into a fearless attitude toward food. She’s unafraid to experiment with different genres and ingredients and believes in creating a culinary product that is stimulating while never losing respect for the product.  Chef Spruance is thrilled to bring this vision and passion to her guests at Kingsley.

Eric Trager

Eric Trager is the Executive Chef at Old Piney Dell at Rock Creek Resort in Red Lodge, MT, where he maximizes his 25 years of experience in providing European influenced meals, creating daily features and coaching his staff to create a culinary experience for their guests. Eric is President of the Chefs and Cooks of Montana and has served on the board for two years. More recent work experience includes Executive Chef at Morning Star Senior Living in Billings, two years as Executive Chef of Red Lodge Restaurants, consisting of Carbon County Steakhouse, Bogart’s Restaurant and Red Lodge Pizza Company, and Executive Chef at Bridge Creek Backcountry Kitchen & Wine Bar.

Eric’s innovative style while utilizing ingredients from local ranchers and farmers is evident in the kitchen, the garden and the cooking classes he teaches. As a member of Western Sustainability Exchange, he has become active in promoting Montana-made products and sustainable practices. Eric has worked with the Montana Department of Agriculture, showcasing Montana-made products in Florida, New York, Massachusetts and California. In 2010, he prepared meals for Taiwanese government officials who were visiting Helena to evaluate Montana agriculture and Montana-made products.

Eric was honored in 2009 as Chef of the Year by the Chefs and Cooks of Montana. In 2004, he received a gold medal for his entree at the Montana Connection Chef’s Competition and was awarded a silver medal in the 2005 competition.

Eric is a graduate of the culinary program at Paul Smith’s College in Upstate New York, where he medaled in numerous culinary competitions and was honored as a member of Who’s Who in Junior Colleges. He apprenticed in Nantucket, MA, and then continued his culinary training in Beaver Creek, CO, Laramie, WY, and Napa, CA, before settling in Red Lodge.

Eric and his wife Dulcie have two children, Anja and Cedric.

Dr. Wade Wolfe

Wade Wolfe received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry in 1971 and a Ph. D. in Plant Genetics in 1976, both from the University of California at Davis. While at Davis he completed course work in viticulture and enology and a Ph. D. thesis on grape genetics. Between 1976 and 1978 he was Research Viticulturist and Enologist at the University of Arizona for a wine grape feasibility study in the Southwest. In 1978, he joined Chateau Ste Michelle as Technical Viticulturist and became Director of Vineyard Operations in 1983. In 1985, he left Chateau Ste Michelle to pursue a vineyard consulting business. In 1987, Wade and his wife Becky founded Thurston Wolfe Winery. In 1991, he joined Hogue Cellars as Viticulturist and became General Manager in 1996. In July of 2004, he left Hogue Cellars to pursue winemaking full-time at Thurston Wolfe Winery.

Wade is a Past Director and President of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, past chair and current member of the Washington Wine Advisory Committee and past chair and current board member of Wine Yakima Valley. Wade has published many articles about the Washington wine industry. In recognition of his contributions to the Washington wine industry, Wade received the 1993 Alec Bayless Award from the Washington Wine Commission, the 2000 Dr. Walter Clore Award from the Washington State Grape Society and the 2002 Industry Service Award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers.