Wednesday marks the debut of Montana Food, a new, all-Montana food section.

The most enjoyable eating often involves local cooks using local ingredients, and we’ll present many of both on these pages each week – like today’s centerpiece story about the locally produced lamb featured at Easter brunch at Big Timber’s Grand Hotel.

Each week, we’ll be featuring the work of thelastbestplates.com, a web site conceived and led by Lynn Donaldson-Vermillion, a terrific photojournalist, writer and food enthusiast who also happens to be a self-described “fourth-generation Montana farm girl.” Lynn, originally from Winnett and now a Livingston resident, collects the work of friends who feel the same love she does for food, and they write about it from all corners of the state. Lynn herself wrote and photographed today’s Grand Hotel feature. You can read more about their Montana lifestyle web site here: thelastbestplates.com/about

We’re also thrilled to be presenting the work of three outstanding food columnists from Lee Montana Newspapers.

Ari LeVaux of Missoula writes Flash in the Pan, a syndicated weekly food column that appears in more than 60 newspapers nationwide. He says he loves to “grow garlic and make pickles and hunt ungulates of all shapes and flavors. I also like to have friends who fish.”

Greg Patent, also of Missoula, has been a restaurant chef, TV food celebrity and food writer, his work appearing in all of the major food magazines. He has written 10 cookbooks. He is well-known for the Montana Public Radio show he's done for 20 years with Jon Jackson – and for his food column in The Missoulian.  He also writes a food blog, thebakingwizard.com.

Bernie Mason has written the Local Flavor column for the Billings Gazette for three years or so. She was Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years, and since her retirement has used her expertise and enthusiasm about food to good effect for the Gazette.  Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry. “That makes for a good food heritage,” she said.

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