By Abbie Digel
“It was shockingly good,” said Steve Kuntz with
a huge smile. The Food and Beverage Director at
Rainbow Ranch was describing a private dinner
held a few weeks ago in the Bacchus room, a glasspaneled
wine cellar in the basement of the main
lodge which stores the Ranch’s award-winning
wine collection. The entree was smoked black cod
in a Belguin Edive, or lettuce boat, with garlic aioli,
fresh olive oil, dijon potato gratin and finished with
truffled broccoli. The guests raved.
The cuisine at Rainbow Ranch stays true to the
lodge’s rich Montana history. Kuntz and Executive
Chef Matthew Fritz combine Western flavors with
contemporary flare, using the freshest ingredients
grown from Montana farms. For dinner, try the
grilled bison tenderloin, paired with house-made
bison kielbasa, port wine pickled red cabbage, potato
puree, and topped with a red wine demi-glace.
Guests staying for breakfast can enjoy fresh berries,
yogurt, homemade granola and strong coffee.
The chefs use contrasting flavors, and their experience
supports their adventurous cuisine.
Kuntz graduated in ‘00 from Western Culinary
Institute in Portland, Oregon, spent two years in
San Francisco working at a variety of restaurants,
spent three years as Pastry Chef at the Timbers at
Moonlight Lodge, and owns Montana Epicurean, a
full service catering company.
Fritz has been cooking for 20 years, and started in
the business as a server.
He went to culinary
school in Chicago, where
he grew up, and cooked
at different restaurants
until he landed his sous
chef job, while visiting a
friend in Big Sky, at Rainbow
in 1999. Previously,
Fritz was a sous chef at
the Yellowstone Club,
Chef de Cuisine at By Word of Mouth, chef at Lone
Mountain Ranch and also has his own private chef
The RR kitchen team members are smart and
experienced, and know how to point diners in the
right direction, pairing full flavor wines with the
right food, creating a magical symmetry of taste and
“The dining experience at Rainbow Ranch was like
embarking upon an adventure with your server
as your fearless leader. It was an incredible, tasteful
journey,” said Sam Isham, a dinner guest who
devoured his Asian barbecue glazed grilled quail as
a starter, elk medallions as an entree, and finished
the evening with a Mexican chocolate soup flavored
with cinnamon and chilies, drizzled over caramel
bread budding, and topped with banana-praline ice
cream and crystallized sugar straws.
To Kuntz, the dining experience is not complete
without a bottle of vino, and he has travelled far
and wide to create the perfect, ever-changing list.
“I am excited to develop the wine cellar to include
excellent, affordable options, as well as a selection
of cellar vintages from California to France and everywhere
in between. Pairing complementary wines
with our menu is a challenge I enjoy,” he said.
The wine list is extensive – prefer Italian Brunello
but want to try something new? The staff will
recommend a Spanish version and chances are,
Kuntz has sampled a few glasses with the distributor
“Patrons can go to different restaurants and have a
cabernet with their meat, but at Rainbow, we can
take it even further and give you the option of a
California cab, an Argentinean, or something from
France. There are so many different options, it’s fun
to play with.”
Book one of the Ranch’s deluxe, cozy rooms, or
reserve the entire ranch and plan a Montana wedding.
Wedding celebrations are the Ranch’s most
popular draw, and for good reason. Guests check
in on Wednesday, and the RR staff takes care of
everything from the meet and greet, the ceremony,
reception in the barn or at the gazebo, and a farewell
brunch the day the wedding party departs.
“It’s a reserved elegance,” said GM Mollie Eckman.
“This place is pretty special. There’s a reason people
come back year after year.”
Originally built in 1919, a fire destroyed the main
lodge in 2008, but was rebuilt soon after with the
same rustic elegance. “It’s still clean, rustic Montana,”
Daily life moves slower at Rainbow Ranch. It’s a
place where guests spend time on little things; they
can enjoy breakfast and read the entire newspaper
cover-to-cover, take pleasure in a meal made from
scratch, or stroll through the grounds and listen to
the sounds wildlife, and chances are there will be a
double rainbow over the horizon.