By Jessianne Wright EBS Contributor

BIG SKY – Inspiration can come from the slightest of places: snow falling from the sky, a flickering flame in the fireplace, stocking hats, wool gloves, down coats and snow boots. For Nancy Radick Butler, owner of The Gourmet Gals in Big Sky, inspiration comes with the seasons and fuels her desire to cook.

Having lived in South Florida surrounded by Italian and Caribbean cuisine, traveling abroad and exploring a variety of ethnic foods, and having moved to the Northern Rockies in the ‘80s to find the mingling of wild game, trout and fowl, Butler is passionate about great food and festivity, and enjoys making people happy through her cuisine.

One manifestation of this passion comes forth in her cooking classes, which she has offered for nine years.

“I really enjoy the community cooking classes,” Butler said. “We try to focus on the things people ask the most about.”

Butler said she is encouraged by positive community feedback. For example, when she visits the post office or grocery store and someone who attended a class tells her the lesson was a success, the meal taught in class has become a family favorite, or the kids keep asking for more.

This year, The Gourmet Gals is offering a set of three winter classes beginning Jan. 24, following the culmination of the holiday series that ended in December. At each class, Butler will teach how to cook meals fit for warming the heart on a winter day in Big Sky.

The first course in this series is focused on winter ragùs and will explore the combination of the hearty, traditional Italian sauce with duck, elk or beef for a Rocky Mountain flair. Following the Jan. 24 class, Butler invites the community to join her Feb. 21, to learn about making fool-proof wild mushroom risotto and variations for a main course or side dish. The winter series concludes March 21, with an exploration of gourmet ground beef and creative ways to elevate this humble American staple.

Courses are held at the Big Sky Discovery Academy from 6 to 8 p.m. and the registration fee includes ingredients, the meal and the lesson. Students are invited to bring their own beverage to enjoy with the meals they create.

In addition to the community cooking classes, The Gourmet Gals offer private lessons, personal chef services and catering. They also have a wide selection of meals available for online order and delivery, as well as items that can be picked up and baked at home. All items are prepared in Big Sky at The Gourmet Gals’ kitchen located at 77 Aspen Leaf Dr.

For more information about the community cooking classes, email info@bigskydiscoveryacademy.com or call (406) 995-7300. To learn more about The Gourmet Gals, visit thegourmetgals.com.