If there are two things the Northern Hotel’s new chef Tim Freeman knows, it’s babies and fine cuisine.

Freeman’s son, Wyatt, is 9 months old and already taking his first adventurous steps on his own. It was Freeman’s own adventurous spirit that led him to work as head chef at fine restaurants in Russia, Portugal, Kenya and the Philippines, where Freeman met his wife, Ailleen.

As a parent, Freeman said he understands the important mission of the March of Dimes to improve the health of babies. He is spearheading this year’s Signature Chefs Auction on Monday in the ballroom at the Northern Hotel.

Freeman returned to the U.S. earlier this year after spending a decade cooking overseas because he wanted to raise his son in his home country. He chose Billings for an increasingly popular reason.

“It is ranked No. 3 in the nation for the best place to raise a family. I thought the Northern would be a nice place to work and Billings would be a nice place to settle in,” Freeman said.

Freeman was raised in Alabama, Ohio and Texas, and he incorporates many flavors of Southern cooking in his dishes. He also uses recipes he acquired overseas to bring a world cuisine to the Northern Hotel’s TEN restaurant.

After taking over as the head chef at the Northern Hotel in April, Freeman revamped the service staff and brought in some workers from overseas, including the beverage manager Patrick Ford, who Freeman met in South Africa.

“Today’s job environment is more global. I want to make the dining experience here more like it is in Chicago.”

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Freeman also plans to introduce one of his favorite styles of cooking, Indian, to the menu in October and keep the new dishes throughout the winter.

“It’s spicy — not just hot, but full of flavor,” he said.

Freeman’s experiences in other countries also helped him become a problem solver.

“Suppliers aren’t as plentiful and you become more resourceful,” Freeman said.

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Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.