Feast Whitefish concludes in style with a 6-course, sit-down winemaker dinner … a creative culinary collaboration prepared by six of the most popular – and talented -- chefs in the northern Rocky Mountains, accompanied by award-winning wines. CLICK HERE to buy tickets.
CLICK HERE for this year's Grand Gala Menu!
Meet the Chefs...
Chef Andy Blanton, Cafe Kandahar
Andy Blanton’s culinary journey began while working as a dishwasher at the age of 15, when the allure of cooking became apparent and his curiosity began to arise. He enrolled at the Culinary Arts Institute of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, earning an Associates Degree in Culinary Artswhile exploring the flavorful cuisine and learning the techniques and core foundations of all facets of food preparation.
After gaining hard-earned experience at several local restaurants, Andy’s first job as a professional cook was at Commanders Palace in New Orleans, recipient of the James Beard Award for “Most Outstanding Restaurant in 1996.” There he learned to appreciate the depth within each dish, paying attention to details such as texture, mouth feel, presentation, eye appeal, and flavor … and how these elements combine for each and every palate. His next move was to Brigtsen’s, working under Frank Brigtsen – another James Beard Award-winning chef. While at Brigtsens, Andy was fortunate to also work with Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona at Spice Inc, and fine tune his experience even further.
In the fall of 1999, Andy chose to move to Whitefish, Montana for a change of pace and scenery. His talents were quickly recognized and he became Executive Chef of Café Kandahar at Whitefish Mountain Resort (formerly Big Mountain) in 2000. After six years as Executive Chef, Andy along with his parents purchased the restaurant in 2006.
Recently Chef Blanton has been featured in numerous publications on the local, regional, and national scale, notably Wine Enthusiast, Sunset, and Travel and Leisure Magazines. In addition, Andy has been nominated four times as a semi-finalist for the coveted James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in the Northwest, in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. In 2012 he was invited to cook at the James Beard House, a culinary rite of passage and a distinguished honor. Cafe Kandahar was also named as one of the ten best small town fine dining Restaurants in the U.S. by Culturetrip.com.
Café Kandahar serves thoughtfully constructed cuisine. Showcasing locally cultivated products, local game, and farm-to-table ingredients, Café Kandahar strives to provide patrons with a unique and exquisite dining experience. The café specializes in the art of pairing food and wine and boasts an extensive wine list, with accolades from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
Chef CeCe Andersson, Tupelo Grille
Born and raised in Denmark, Chef Cecilie was strongly influenced by her Mother Aase’s culinary talent and love for classic European cooking. “My Mother loved great food and the Art of Cooking, and ensured that I would experience her passion. She firmly believed that starting at a young age – and training with the right chefs – was the correct way to understand the culinary trade.
Chef Cece’s family relocated to the United States in the 1980’s, and – at age 16 – she was introduced to Chef Thomas Portmann from Switzerland. She took a summer job in the kitchen, and – inspired (and hooked) hooked by the textures, ingredients and flavors, she stayed with the hotel for five years, working her way up the ranks. In 1997 she became Executive Chef for the Buccuti Beach Resort in Aruba Dutch Carribean, then moved to European Master Chef Carsten Giesing’s new “Madame Janette” restaurant in Aruba, where she became Sous Chef.
After three years in the Caribbean, she returned to the States as Sous Chef for the newly renovated Le Marigot Hotel in Santa Monica, California, and worked in the award winning restaurant “Cézanne” for the following 2 years. She was later the Executive Sous Chef at The Jonathan Club – the 4th most prestigious private club in the U.S. – and was I honored to be promoted to Executive Chef of The Jonathan Beach Club in 2005.
After venturing out on her own to create a high-end Private Chef Culinary Service – her clients included the Ambassador to Finland, CEO’s, celebrities & Hollywood producers – Chef Cece relocated to Whitefish in 2014 seeking a better quality of life. Here she met (and joined forces with) Pat Carloss, whose Tupelo Grille was undergoing a major expansion.
“With 20+ years’ experience as a professional chef and culinarian, I have engulfed all the great knowledge from the talented people I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years,” she said, “and I’ve created my own style … a mixture of “Farm to Table,” my childhood memories; California cuisine and the different cultural cuisines experienced in my travels.”
Chef Dan Crumbaker, Whitefish Lake Restaurant
Dan Crumbaker has been the Executive Chef at Whitefish Lake Restaurant since 1993. Raised in Grand Junction, Colorado, he has been working kitchens since 1983. A graduate of Western Culinary Institute, Dan started his kitchen career in Colorado working at such establishments as The Winery in Grand Junction, The Blue Spruce in Frisco and The Flagstaff House in Boulder. Before moving to Whitefish, Dan honed his skill at Atwater’s of Portland.
Over his 23 years at the Whitefish Lake Golf Club, Dan has overseen countless golf event banquets, wine dinners, fundraising and other special events at the Club, while also maintaining the top quality (and consistency) in the dining room that has made the Whitefish Lake Restaurant one of the premier dining spots in Montana and the Rocky Mountain West.
Dan values his work, family and friends, and has also come to be a single digit handicap golfer since picking up his first golf club upon arrival at the Whitefish Lake Golf Club in ’93.
Chef Jason Geer, Latitude 48
Chef Jason Geer began his culinary journey in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the vibrancy and commotion of the professional kitchen was enough to pique his interest at a very early age. As he progressed – and entered college as an English major – it quickly became apparent that the career he was searching for was waiting right in front of him.
The birth of his first child proved to be the impetus needed to change direction and focus on culinary advancement. This journey took him all across the mountain west, ending up in the Flathead Valley in 2007. Having worked and managed some of the finest restaurants in the valley, he is both happy and proud to share his 30 years of experience at Latitude 48/Red Room Basement Bar.
Special Guest Chef, Jeremy Leonard Hansen
Chef Jeremy L. Hansen began his culinary career working in professional kitchens at age 15. At 25, he decided to pursue a career in culinary arts and moved to Portland, Oregon, to attend Le Cordon Bleu. During this time, he volunteered in several restaurants to learn new techniques and to better understand how other chefs ran their kitchens. Throughout his education, an understanding for localism, transparency and sustainability began to influence his cuisine.
After graduating with honors, Jeremy moved to New York City to work under Michelin Star Chef Gray Kunz at Café Gray, learning the art behind service and dining at a professional level.
After culinary adventures on both sides of the country, he felt it was time to move back to Spokane and opened Santé Restaurant & Charcuterie with his wife Kate in 2008. Jeremy developed his recipes for charcuterie and continues to practice whole animal butchery with a localism philosophy. Since the inception of Santé, Hansen and his wife expanded the charcuterie program and added the adjoining craft cocktail Butcher Bar in January of 2013.
Chef Hansen has received numerous accolades and honors, including a 2015 semi-finalist nomination from the James Beard Foundation for “Best Chef Northwest,” The Inlander’s “Best Chef” 2011 and 2014, and the Inland Business Catalyst “Top 20 most influential people under 40.” He enjoys partnering with local chefs to create unique events, regularly mentors high school and culinary students, and serves on discussion panels relating to food ethics. Recently Chef Hansen created and hosted the first annual Chefs Week PNW, bringing several chefs, breweries and winemakers together for various events throughout the week.
In 2013, 2015, and 2016, Hansen and his culinary team prepared dinners at the esteemed James Beard House in New York City. On his most recent trip Jeremy was featured as a presenter for a competition at the 2016 StarChefs International Congress in Brooklyn. Other noteworthy accolades include top place charcuterie honors at the Good Food Awards in 2014 and 2016 and inductions into the Best Chefs America and Butcher’s Guild.
He and his wife Kate opened Common Crumb Artisan Bakery in 2015, Hogwash Whiskey Den in 2016, and a progressive, intimate restaurant, Inland Pacific Kitchen in 2017. He is looking forward to the progression of the culinary scene in eastern Washington, and we're looking forward to having him be a part of Feast Whitefish!
Chef Benjamin Heese, Whitefish Mountain Resort
Chef Benjamin Heese has been the Executive Chef at Whitefish Mountain Resort since 2014, overseeing menus at three restaurants as well as at special events and weddings on the Mountain. Ben began his culinary career in Overland Park, Kansas working as a line cook while in high school. While earning his Bachelor's degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Ben worked at a Cajun restaurant, the Hibachi Hut, and spent his summer and winter doing internships at Keystone resort in Colorado, learning about the intricacies of banquet service and fine dining in the ski industry.
Ben managed a Panera Bread franchise near Kansas City, but "discovered" Whitefish while on a road trip a year later. He started rolling sushi at Wasabi Sushi Bar where he could express his culinary creativity, and eventually worked his way up to kitchen manager and sous chef.
During the last two years, Ben has elevated the quality of food and efficiency of service at The Summit House, the Base Lodge and Ed & Mully's restaurants. He's introduced new and exciting additions to each restaurant's menu, while continuing to provide high-quality "ski area classics" ... delivering high-value to record numbers of ski area guests. Ben approaches his winter, summer and banquet menus with spirit, creativity and enthusiasm, to the rave reviews of Whitefish Mountain guests.
When out of the kitchen (which is rare), Ben enjoys snowboarding, taking his family camping, paddling local lakes and rivers, and cooking over an open fire!