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Local foodies spotlight role of eateries in community

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Celine Saucier and Jayde Wilmes founded AlwaysHungryMontana, an Instagram account that highlights the different food and drink around Southwest Montana. PHOTO BY WNDRLSTPHOTO

Social media dining review page turned LLC

By Mira Brody EBS STAFF

BOZEMAN – When Celine Saucier took her friend and business partner Jayde Wilmes to the Sit and Spin Laundry Lounge in Big Sky for her birthday, Wilmes could barely believe she could do her laundry, drink a shot called the “Tide Pod” and eat macaroni and cheese all in the same room.

Wilmes and Saucier are the duo known on Instagram as AlwaysHungryMontana. A scroll through their feed reveals local food, cocktails and those who bring them to life—sort of like a social media food and dining guide.

“I thought, this was probably the greatest place I’ve ever had a drink,” Wilmes said. “There’s no way we’re getting a drink at a laundromat and ordering mac’ and cheese.”

You’ll hear both girls sing their praises for Lotus Pad, where they’ll indulge in the Thai fries, the Rainbow Ranch, for the views and “staycation” experience, and the Haufbrau House for the culture.

“Every single time I got there I’m going to see something that I do not expect to see,” Wilmes said of the downtown Bozeman dive bar.

Although the word “hungry” appears in their business name and both it and their friendship was one born from their love for food, an eatery is all about the experience for the duo. Through their Instagram page, they share their experiences through vibrant photography and sincere reviews on local restaurants and bars.

Saucier is from Midland, Michigan and works as a civil engineer at Morrison-Maierle, while Wilmes, who’s from East Lansing, Michigan with a background in literature and philosophy, works at Wildrye Distillery. Although natives of the same state, they didn’t meet until they both landed in Bozeman. Once acquainted through a mutual friend, the two bonded one night over a cheeseboard at Plonk.

“It kind of started as a joke, to be honest,” Wilmes said. “We realized how much we liked cocktails and delicious food and at one point we were joking around that we were following all these food Instagram [accounts], we should just start taking pictures of food and post it on our own Instagram.”

In March 2018, they came up with the Instagram handle AlwaysHungryMontana, posted a photo of the tuna tower from Dave’s Sushi, and were encouraged by the positive feedback they received from their followers. Since then, they’ve grown the brand into an LLC, through which local bars and restaurants can request that Wilmes and Saucier come for a promotional visit.

Their ultimate goal though, involves hot sauce—a concoction they’ve crafted themselves.

“We love spice, we had messed around with chili oils in the past we stumbled on something we enjoyed the flavor of,” Wilmes said, noting that a lot of the inspiration came from Saucier’s mother, who is from Hong Kong. “We took it around to businesses … The more chefs we had in town try it, the more we realized we had a product here that wasn’t available in Bozeman. I think it’s a great product and that’s what motivated us to start.”

The sauce, or oil, is a mixture of chili powder and Thai chili oil, a mixture Saucier describes as “savory, spicy and smoky,” and that they currently only offer to chefs. Saffron Table, which closed it’s doors at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown, once featured the chili oil on their naan. Meanwhile, there are ample restaurants in the area, providing the duo with diverse dining experiences to feed their appetites.

“We’ve grown to love the community,” Saucier said. “We grew up in these areas where there was a lot of diversity of food and we wanted to showcase what food was in Montana. The best thing about Bozeman restaurants is that they continue to take [ingredients] from local farms … and I think that’s why people are coming into town.”

Although business has slowed since the pandemic, Wilmes and Saucier try to patron at least one restaurant each week, even if it comes in the form of takeout. In addition to delicious plates of food and cocktails, the girls speak fondly of the relationships they’ve made with local business owners and chefs.

“It all comes around to Bozeman having more a community feel more than other places that I’ve lived,” Saucier said. “We find ourselves being really attached to the owners and the staff. People are really passionate about what they’re doing. It makes it easy to walk in as a tourist, or a local.”

You can follow Wilmes’ and Saucier’s “food-ventures” on Instagram @alwayshungrymontana.

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