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Signature Chefs

The Billings Signature Chef event on March 19 at the Billings Depot features small plates developed by 16 local chefs. Pictured are: Milford Burke of Kreative Kapers Custom Catering; Josh Cannon of Seva Kitchen; Nick Steen of Walkers; Seth Carlson of Juliano’s; Jim Carlson of Morning Star; Jason Corbridge of Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill; Dirk Frickel of Hilands Golf Course; Stephen Hindman of Stacked: A Montana Grill; Megan Jessee and Sarah Wilson Montana ProStart; and David Young of The Springs Living at Grand Park. Also pictured are Kelli Toohill, Carrie Sullivan and Lisa Almanza of Wise Wonders.

BETHANY BAKER, Gazette Staff

Nobody wanted the Billings Signature Chefs event to go away.

For many years, it was a popular annual fundraiser for the March of Dimes. And, even more than that, it was a chance for Billings chefs to celebrate the thriving food culture with local foodies.

Well, it’s back.

The Billings Signature Chef event on Monday, March 19, at the Billings Depot will benefit the Wise Wonders Children’s Museum. It starts at 6 p.m., and tickets are $125 per person.

Wise Wonders executive director Kelli Toohill said the fundraiser will boost the museum’s funding for exhibits. Since opening in 2015, the downtown museum at 110 N. 29th St., has been recycling exhibits from other area children’s museums. Planning for the museum began in 2009 as a project of the Junior League of Billings. The community has also provided some interesting displays.

“A dentists’ group gave us a giant mouth with a toothbrush,” Toohill said. “It’s been great the way the community is coming together to support us.”

The list of participating chefs for the party is a who’s who list of local chefs, including Nick Steen of Walker’s Grill.

“I have a 6-year-old kid and he said, ‘Daddy, you’ve got to do it.’ If we don’t help our kids, we aren’t helping ourselves or our community,” Steen said.

The 16 chefs, who are part of the Chefs and Cooks Association, are taking the night off from their restaurants and donating their time to cook and serve at the party. Guests will receive small plates featuring a variety of food courses, served by the chefs. It’s the one night the chefs can show off their signature dishes or try some new ones, and talk about food with their guests.

“A lot of us know each other. We’ve put our businesses aside to make sure these kids are taken care of. It’s not about Seva or Walkers, it’s about the kids,” Steen said.

David Young, the chef at the Springs Living at Grand Park, said the party promotes food culture in Billings.

“We get to go out front and meet the people,” Young said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Megan Jessee, of Montana ProStart, helped organize Signature Chefs. She is teaming up with Sarah Wilson of Montana ProStart to come up with some interesting flavor pairings for the party.

On a recent drive across Montana, Jessee and Wilson started brainstorming ingredients and flavors.

“We’re trying to highlight certain ingredients. We are looking at serving halibut two ways, one smoky and one grilled,” Wilson said.

The fundraiser will also include a live auction where guests can bid on special dinners with the chefs. For more information or to purchase a ticket, call Toohill at 406-702-1280.