Sep 11, 2012

5th Annual Festival of Flavors to Raise Scholarship Money for FVCC Students in Need

New Mediterranean Dinner, World Beer School, and International Winemaker Dinner Among Event Line-Up

When Bigfork’s Ruth Rickenbacher, mother of two boys, decided to pursue a college degree, she knew the cost of college would create a financial challenge for her family.  Even still, she wanted to show her children that through hard work and perseverance, she could achieve her educational and professional goals.  She applied for and received a scholarship through the Flathead Valley Community College Foundation, which she says lifted a huge burden off her shoulders.

“When I received the envelope in the mail, I thought it was another bill,” said Rickenbacher.  “When I discovered it was a scholarship, I actually cried tears of joy for the first time in my life.”

Rickenbacher is currently pursuing an Associate of Arts degree with an emphasis in communications at Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) and plans to transfer to The University of Montana to complete a bachelor’s degree in the field.  Without scholarship assistance, this would have been a much more challenging pursuit for her.

Already one of the most affordable colleges in the state, FVCC has a wide range of scholarships, grants, and diverse financial aid packages available to help students cover college expenses.  During the 2010-2011 academic year, 74 percent of FVCC students who sought degrees or certificates received some type of financial assistance.

The FVCC Foundation, in partnership with event sponsor Fun Beverage Inc., will host its fifth annual Festival of Flavors September 27 through October 6.  The gala will feature 14 events showcasing the talents of eight of Northwest Montana’s finest chefs and students and faculty of The Culinary Institute of Montana at FVCC.

Last year, the event raised approximately $60,000 for student scholarships and programs at FVCC, a record for an FVCC Foundation fundraising event.  This year, the Foundation hopes to top their record and invites the community to support the cause.

Local farmers, FVCC artisans, local food vendors, brewers and winemakers will kick off the Festival on September 27 on the FVCC campus.  Tickets to the kick-off event are $30 per person and include tastings from various local food vendors including Cuisine Machine, Sweet Peaks Ice Cream, Wings on the Fly, Eagle’s Nest Café, Maria’s Big Green Roaster, Amazing Crepes, Flathead Burger, Flathead Lake Brewery, Tamarack Brewery, Mission Mountain Winery, Glacier Sun Winery, Flathead Winery, and more.

The kick-off event also will feature a Farmer’s Market.  Patrons will have the opportunity to purchase fresh produce from the FVCC Campus Garden, and artwork from FVCC Art Club students and college faculty and staff will be available for purchase.  In celebration of the event’s fifth year, the college will offer a new Festival Country Store offering handcrafted Festival of Flavors collector’s items by local artists and FVCC students and faculty.

In addition, the kick-off event will feature live music, a special presentation by FVCC Fulbright Scholar and master Maori artist and performer Karl Rangikawhiti Leonard, and a pie auction of seasonal fruit pies handmade by FVCC Culinary Arts Instructor and Chef Hillary Ginepra and the college’s culinary arts students.

Among the chefs highlighted in the festival are FVCC’s world-trained Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Howard Karp and the students of The Culinary Institute of Montana at FVCC.  They will present two Chef’s Table dinners September 28 and October 5 featuring light hors d’oeuvres followed by a four-course dinner comprised of an appetizer, sorbet, main course, cheese course and a featured dessert.  Each course will be paired with select fine wines.  Patrons will enjoy dinner in the college’s 3,224-square-foot instructional kitchen on the FVCC campus.  During the event, the students will deliver the entire presentation including the food and beverage preparation, plating and service.  Karp will serve as the evening’s emcee, introducing each course and how it is prepared.

New this year, American Culinary Federation Certified Culinary Educator and FVCC Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Hillary Ginepra will prepare an International Winemaker Dinner October 3 at Jeff Gilman’s Woodshop in Whitefish.  Other new dinners will include a World Beer School with Chef Doug Day at Hops Downtown Grill in Kalispell on September 30 as well as a Mediterranean Winemaker Dinner with Chef Engjell Vrapi at When in Rome in Bigfork on October 2.

Guest chef dinners in private homes and restaurants are also available featuring Chef Kathleen Moon from the Laughing Horse Lodge in Swan Lake, Chef Zach Bernheim from North Bay Grille in Kalispell, Chef Josh Auerhammer from the Culinary Design Studio in Bigfork, Chef Andy Blanton from Café Kandahar in Whitefish, Chef Marc Guizol from La Provence Restaurant in Bigfork, and Chef Chris DiMaio from Three Forks Grille in Columbia Falls.

The Festival will culminate with its Grand Wine Tasting event on October 6 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kalispell.  Over 200 wines will be available for patrons to sample.  Wines by acclaimed regional winemakers throughout the Northwest and California will be featured including Precept Wine; Prestige Wine Group; Constellation Brands; Delicato Family Vineyards; Eagle Marketing Services; CK Mondavi Family Vineyards; Mer Soleil Vineyard; Caymus, Belle Glos, Mer Soleil and Rombauer; Willamette Valley Vineyards; Hope Family Wines; and King Estate Winery.  Guests will enjoy a variety of culinary delights from local restaurants and caterers, as well as cuisine prepared and served by students of the college’s Culinary Institute of Montana.  FVCC Student Ambassadors will be on hand to assist with the silent and live auctions to raise money for student scholarships and programs.

Patrons must be at least 21 years of age or must be accompanied by an adult.  Seating is limited, and tickets must be purchased in advance.  To purchase tickets and to obtain a complete list of Festival of Flavors events and featured chefs, visit, or call the FVCC Foundation Office at (406) 756-3632.