Montana Master Chefs 2008

During my original stint at Paws Up, we introduced the Montana Master Chefs event to rave reviews and ecstatic guests. The timing of my return was impeccable as my first weekend back happened to be the 3rd annual Montana Master Chefs event. This years event was amazing, with Chef Bradley Ogden of the Lark Creek Restaurant Group, Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, the Resort’s own Wes Coffel as well as Bravo TV’s Top Chefs: Stephanie Izard and Casey Thompson. The Vintners were of equal stature with Richard & Anita Funk of Saviah Cellars, Cyril & Blakesley Chappellet of Chappellet Vineyard & Winery and Pete Przybylinski of Duckhorn Wine Company. One of my ‘tiresome’ tasks as GM is that my wife and I have to attend each and every dinner and are forced to consume great quantities of fine food and exceptional wine. The highlights, gastronomically speaking, of the event for me were Wes’ Roast Squab with Compressed Dixon Melon, the ’06 Duckhorn Merlot, Daniel’s Nova Scotia Lobster and his amazing dessert that paired so beautifully with Saviah’s ‘06 Une Vallée Walla Walla Valley Red Wine, and Bradley’s Short Rib & Veal Sweetbreads with the ‘05 Chappellet Signature Cabernet.

I also had the opportunity to again, be the MC for The Top Chef Cook Off Challenge. This year’s competition featured a Montana Master Chefs first, the guest challenge. Matt and Teresa McCarty faced off in Battle Short Ribs, with Top Chef’s Stephanie and Casey acting as Sous Chefs. Matt ended up victorious in this “battle of the bungalow”. Casey and Stephanie then squared off in Battle Pheasant, after a scare where they thought they were being given live birds, they were presented with pheasant breasts and the twenty-minute battle ensued. Stephanie was named the winner in this hard-fought contest. Both Matt and Stephanie will be back to defend their titles in ’09.

For more information on this year’s event as well as past years, please see, we hope to see you in 2009.

– Jim Nielsen

4 Replies to “Montana Master Chefs 2008”

  1. Greetings to everyone from Texas. Kyle and I would like to comment that our stay at the resort, though short and only for the MMC event, was nothing short of fantastic in every way. Had we been thinking at all, we would have booked several extra days onto the end of the MMC long weekend to do some real R&R since the weekend was so high energy.

    We shot a ton of photos (950 frames on site, edited down to just shy of 400, 232 posted online) of the event that everyone is welcome to peruse at their leisure. They are separated into five galleries as follows:

    People (Dinner shots, dancing, wine tasting, etc.)
    Cowboys (Us)
    Lodging (The various buildings and architecture)

    To get to the photos click:

    Then click the photo of Jupiter (my Catalina Macaw) to load the Main Site

    Once you load it will open a full screen browser window and give you a menu control bar at the bottom of the screen. Sound is controlled on the bottom RIGHT.

    All the Master Chefs photos are in the “featured” galleries link. So click on the word “featured” at the bottom. Then all the featured galleries load. The Montana Master Chefs photos are the galleries that start with MMC.

    Hope to see everyone again next year. This time we’re staying a full week after to recover!

    — Mike and Kyle (The Cowboys)

  2. It was our first trip to Paws Up and what an adventure. Masters Chefs event was wonderful, the location spectactular and the people we met, we will always remember. The staff at Paw’s up have one thing in mind and that is to make your stay there memorable! Thanks for a great time

  3. Cheers from Chicago. I have been participating in a number of events recently, and MMC was certainly one of the best. What made this event stand out was the combination of great food and wine, fun activities, beautiful accommodations and a great group of guests who attended the weekend. Being surrounded by fun loving foodies while enjoying three great tasting menus paired with outstanding wines is my kind of weekend. The staff and all of those involved with organizing the weekend did a great job of bringing it all together and making the event a success once again this year.

    I am happy to say that I have been invited back next October to MMC to defend the Paws Up Top Chef title. Challenging Casey in kitchen stadium was great although I was nervous for a minute when the live birds appeared. I was about to show off the new shooting skills I had picked up the day before during my skeet shooting adventure.
    Also, coming up this December for anyone in the Walla Walla area, I am teaming up with Saviah Cellars to do a wine dinner. Rich and Anita have beautiful wines that we were able to enjoy in Montana and we are looking forward to working together next month.

    To all those who attended, I look forward to seeing you again next year! Or perhaps running in to you at the ranch some time this summer.

  4. Hello everyone,
    Made it back to California after a great trip to the MMC event. That was such a fabulous time and there were many foodies and people that share our passion- which made for a great time. Congratulations to Stephanie on the return for next year! It is a great time. I had WAY to much fun and was spoiled by the staff, chefs, and beautiful surroundings. I hope to see everyone again. I met SO many great people…

    Many things are in the works right now-it is an exciting time. I just returned from a week in San Diego with chefs Brian Malarkey, and Richard Blais. It was another great food and wine event! What a job I have!!!

    Take care of everyone… until we meet again.


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