Montana Culinary Excellence Award

Nine chefs were selected to participate in the Montana Chef Competition for the Culinary Excellence Award, which was sponsored by the Montana Department of Agriculture to promote the use of Montana ingredients at fine dining restaurants. Food samples were prepared on the site and judged by a panel of local and national chefs and restaurant brokers.

"We hope to make this an annual event. The Montana Chef Competition encourages our state's chefs to incorporate more locally produced foods into their menus. This, in turn, helps Montana's agricultural industry," said Ralph Peck, director of the Montana Department of Agriculture.

Lieutenant Governor Karl Ohs announced the winners of the Culinary Excellence Awards. Rick Hilles, chef at Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, won the gold award in the appetizer and dessert categories. Eric Trager, chef at Bridge Creek Back Country Kitchen & Wine Bar, Red Lodge, won the gold award among main course entries.

The department worked with the Montana Restaurant Association and regional food service companies to plan the event, which also included an expo showcase of Montana products for restaurant managers, chefs, brokers and distributors.

Educational sessions featured local and nationally known chefs and industry leaders including Katy Keck, a culinary professional and journalist from New York City, and Dieter Doppelfeld, a Certified Master Chef and board member of the American Culinary Institute.

For more information on the event, contact Angelyn DeYoung, Montana Department of Agriculture marketing officer, at (406) 444-2402, or by email at

Montana Culinary Excellence Award Recipes