Lifelong love of food behind local restaurant

By BRITTANY HORTON/Montana State News

Dishes were clanging, as the sounds of mixing and preparing paired with loud country music were blasting from the kitchen at the Food Studio on a typical Friday afternoon.

Two chefs were preparing for the nine-course dinner later that night, as one mentioned, “This is the final stretch; this is when it starts getting very busy.”

Daniel Wendall, owner and head chef at the Food Studio, strolled in a few minutes later with his hands full of boxes and decorations, immediately heading into the kitchen to see how the prep work was going.

He began tasting the stovetop food, adding additional spices and adjusting the recipe. His manner suggests that this man is a professional.

An average of 20 hours has already been spent preparing this nine-course Valentine’s Daydinner, which is about the same amount of time these three spend on every.

“We seem to keep very busy, we always have an event, class or something to cater, there is no down time,” chef Jacobs laughs.

The Food Studio opened about 14 months ago, buying out a local studio located off the West end of Kagy in Bozeman.

Falling in love with food and cooking, Wendall began his art at about 12 years old at a French Sanctuary, making everything from cakes to dinners.

“I have always loved this art,” he says. “I fell for it at an early age and never found anything else I wanted to do.”

After working his teenage years, Wendallstarted his career as a young apprentice in a cheese and charcuterie shop in California and then worked at a renowned restaurant in Berkeley.

After a few years there, he moved to Alaska to be a chef for the Hilton Corporation where he met co-owner and now wife, Eva.

“She was a waitress in the restaurant I worked at, and we immediately hit it off,” he explains to me smiling.

Eva is present at all of the Food Studio events, serving alongside the rest of the staff on hand.

From the Hilton, Wendall worked his way to executive chef at Sack’s Café, a popular and established restaurant in Anchorage, at the young age of 22. He moved from there to New Mexico and then finally to Montana where he and his wife Eva could raise their family.

With over 20 years experience as a head chef, Wendall was more than ready to open his own business in Bozeman.

“When we moved here, we were surprised by the level of dining that just was not sustainable to what we were used to, Bozeman is such a wonderful place filled with art and culture, we wanted to bring food into that equation.”

The Food Studio offers multiple services, including Catering and private chef services, seasonal dinners, wine dinners, art showings and corporate gatherings and parties.

Not only does the Food Studio offer unique gatherings, but also has a large hand in the community throwing fundraising and charity dinners.

“When we find a local cause that we are passionate about, our favorite thing is to throw charity dinners,” Wendall said. “We have made lots of friends in the area, and everyone has been so giving towards us so we want to give back to them.”

Alongside charity dinners, they have a hand in helping out local artists, giving their wall space to a different local artist every month or so.

“We sometimes let the artist use our space for free while they get their art businesses on their feet,” Wendall said. The Food Studio always looks nicely decorated, with close attention called to every detail.

Daniel and Eva also both believe in supporting local food and farmers as much as they can, and are hoping to have a garden outside their building to grow their own vegetables to add to their recipes.

“Fresh food from the garden is another piece that we would love to incorporate once the weather is nicer, Wendall said. “There is something about fresh food that you grow on your own, I am convinced it makes the food taste even better.”

The two also get all their food from local markets and farmers, working very closely with those in Bozeman. “We want to support our farmers in every way we can, and we like to know where our food is coming from,” Wendall said.

With an obvious passion for localized food and decoration, these two owners have already made a great name for themselves in Bozeman, and Big Sky- where Daniel holds another part time job.

“I have worked part time in Big Sky for awhile now, mostly because I enjoy it,” he said.

“I always love to be learning as much as I can so I can bring it back to home base here at the Food Studio.”

Not only does the Food Studio offer dinners, tastings, art shows; it also offers classes to help young cooks be more skilled in the kitchen. The classes are events such as Charcuterie, Grilling and Smoking, Knife skills and foraging.

– Edited by Jennifer Webster

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