Visitors to NW Montana often plan their trip with a view to visiting its most prized possession, Glacier National Park. Less well known, is the Flathead Valley’s fine dining establishments and its assortment of local wineries and microbreweries. Now entering its 4th year, the Festival of Flavors is a chance for visitors to enjoy the gastronomic delights from the cream of the crop.
Hosted by the Flathead Valley Community College Foundation (FVCC), the Festival of Flavors presents the best chefs creating the finest foods. These foods are then paired with the perfect wine and beverages courtesy of local wineries and microbreweries. The festival runs from Sep. 29 through Oct. 07, culminating with a Grand Wine Tasting Event to be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, in Kalispell. The most anticipated events of the festival are detailed below.
Thursday September 29: The Kick-Off Event with Chef Andy Blanton
Chef Blanton is the owner of Cafe Kandahar, a fine dining establishment located in the heart of Whitefish Mountain Ski and Summer Resort. Frommers Guidebook describes Cafe Kandahar as, “One of the two best restaurants in Montana,” and indeed the cafe is noted for incorporating local produce and providing the freshest dining experiences. Chef Blanton is featuring local foods and flavors for this event, with food and beverages provided by local vendors and businesses. Tickets cost $30 and must be purchased in advance.
Friday, September 30th, FVCC Chefs Table
Hosted by Chef Howard Karp and first-year culinary students from the college, the Chefs Table event will feature a selection of foods with wine pairing from Fun Beverage. Karp is the resident FVCC chef instructor with impressive credentials. As well as being a former director of food and beverage operations for the Waldorf-Astoria and Balducci’s Food Operations, he has also cooked for four US presidents. Tickets are $80 and reservations are a must.
Top Chefs of the Valley Each Get a Night to Shine
From Sep. 30 through Oct. 03, a series of in-home dinners will present the best of the chefs from around the valley. Featured first are the chefs of Lakeside, followed by chefs from Whitefish, Bigfork and finally Kalispell. Dinner, which is served in private homes, is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with tickets costing $125 per person.
If a restaurant setting is preferred, on Oct. 05, Chef David Lewis will host the Great Chefs Whitefish Restaurant Dinner at Pescado Blanco in Whitefish. On Oct 06, Chef Chris DiMaio will showcase his talent in the Great Chefs Columbia Falls Restaurant Dinner, held at Three Forks Grille in Columbia Falls. Tickets for both events are $125, reservations are required and seating is limited.
Grand Wine Tasting Event
The Festival of Flavors culminates on October 16, with a wine tasting finale that will have taste buds tingling all evening long. Alongside samples of the valley’s finest foods, over 100 wines will be available for sampling. Not only is the evening a chance to find some choice favorites, experts will be available to advise on the art of food and wine pairing. Tickets for this event, hosted at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell, cost $100 each.
For further details on individual events, including purchasing tickets, venues, dates and times, call the FVCC Foundation Office at (406) 756-3963, or visit the Festival of Flavors website. All proceeds from the festival support the FVCC student scholarship program.