Gourmet Food with Big Sky Balance

National Culinary Arts Month couldn’t come at a better time. Summer produce is rolling in and The Ranch kitchen is highlighting Montana’s freshest food with creative, ever-changing menus. We want to recognize the chefs, servers, managers and purveyors that make The Ranch’s dining experiences shine.

As part of the Relais & Châteaux commitmentsExecutive Chef Josh Drage and his talented team focus on making our cuisine a reflection of local tradition while delivering a first-rate luxury experience. We want to thank our staff members who achieve this precise balance every day of the year.

In a recent TripAdvisor review, Claire V., wrote, “The freshness of the food rivaled that of my favorite restaurants in New York City. The service was remarkable and is clearly a top priority of management. While the Ranch at Rock Creek is certainly ‘high-end,’ it is not stuffy.”

Members of our evening culinary arts team enjoy the Fourth of July celebration
Members of our Evening Culinary Team on Fourth of July. Left to Right: Executive Chef Josh, PM Servers Alex, Kaylen, F&B Event Manager Christina, Executive Sous Chef Ben, PM Server Willie. Photo by Willie MacDade.

Culinary Arts Al Fresco

We try to emulate our innovative culinary team in our dining venues. This year, we’ve expanded the Granite Lodge Dining Room to include a patio. Now, guests dining at the Granite Lodge may enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner from a new vantage point from April to October (weather depending).

We’ve long served meals with a view from the Blue Canteen near Rock Creek and the Flagstone under the aspens. Guests can savor lemon ricotta pancakes, a Mannix Ranch burger or multi-course tasting menus along with sweeping views of the Rock Creek Valley.

For Culinary Arts Month we're celebrating with a Flathead Cherry Tasting Menu in the Granite Lodge
A tasting menu starter featuring a Flathead cherry, crisp Flathead Lake gouda, a Marcona almond, and Missoula-area micro-greens. Photo by Evening Restaurant Manager Katie Forbes.

The garden patio space includes hand-hewn wooden tables made by a local woodworker. Guests can also choose to sit under the roof around a beautiful stone fireplace at wooden tables with playful checkered tops. Heaters and umbrellas are available to keep guests comfortable during a chilly morning or cloudless day. We love that guests can spend even more of their day enjoying the fresh air and big sky.

The view of the Rock Creek Valley from the new Granite Lodge garden patio
The Granite Lodge’s new garden patio. 

Behind-the-Scenes on Instagram

One of the people who was integral in getting the new Granite Lodge Patio primed was Evening Restaurant Manager, Katie Forbes. Katie will help us celebrate Culinary Arts Month with an Instagram takeover on Friday, July 15.  Forbes has risen through The Ranch’s ranks to become one of the leaders on our culinary team. She started as an evening server in 2011, only a year after we opened our doors as a guest ranch. After serving, she bartended for a year and a half before moving into management.

Culinary srts team member, Katie Forbes, and Flint the Ranch Pup play fetch before the Rodeo Barbeque dinner
Evening Restaurant Manager Katie Forbes with Flint the Ranch Pup.

Forbes’ management philosophy is to treat guests like they are dining at your family home. Good hosts ensure that guests get a taste of local fare and delicacies. In a similar style, she guides Ranch guests through the dining experience, recommending accompaniments that heighten their culinary journey. The goal is for guests to be comfortable and feel at-home when they are dining.

Forbes said, “I love the people I work with and our approach to hospitality. Dining at The Ranch at Rock Creek is an intimate experience. It’s not unusual for guests to get to know Executive Chef Josh Drage and Executive Sous Chef Ben Miller throughout their week-long stay.”

Everyone is passionate about what they do in the kitchen, and this leads to new menus every night, high quality, local ingredients and inventive menus. For example, the kitchen has recently been smoking and curing their own meats that are sourced from local ranches. Guests during the Fourth of July enjoyed house-cured pork from a Tucker Family Farm pig. We’re excited to see what Forbes has in store during her behind-the-scenes takeover tomorrow.

Saloon Arts & Draughts

Our Great Room and Silver Dollar Saloon bartenders suggest a host of local beers and seasonal cocktails to keep guests cool. Many of these recipes feature fresh fruit, local spirits and harvested herbs. In honor of National Culinary Arts Month and National Rickey Month, Bar Manager Ned Derosier was happy to share one of his new favorites that features freshly-picked Flathead cherries—the Flathead Cherry Ranch Rickey.

A flat of fresh Flathead cherries arrives at The Ranch at Rock Creek kitchen
A flat of cherries from the Flathead Lake region of Northwest Montana.

Created in Washington D.C. and named after lobbyist Col. Joe Rickey, this drink consists of gin or bourbon, soda water and the juice of at least half a lime. In 2008, the DC Craft Bartender’s Guild declared July “Rickey Month.” It’s an ideal mid-summer drink. According to The Washington Post, cocktail historian David Wondrich characterized the rickey as “air conditioning in a glass.”

It's National Rickey Month and we're celebrating with artisan cocktails
Bar Manager Ned shows off three homemade summer rickeys on the Granite Lodge Flagstone.

Flathead Cherry Ranch Rickey

5 cherries
1/4 teaspoon Wüstner Brothers Honey
Juice of 1 lime
1 shot Headframe Spirits Neversweat Bourbon Whiskey


  1. In a shaker pit and muddle four cherries.
  2. Add honey, lime juice and bourbon.
  3. Top with ice and shake well.
  4. Strain into ice-filled Collins glass.
  5. Top with sparking water.
  6. Garnish with cherry and lime twist.

National Culinary Arts Month has to be one of the best month’s to celebrate. Cook your favorite food, try a new recipe or visit a favorite restaurant. Join us on tomorrow on Instagram while we celebrate with Katie Forbes and the rest of The Ranch’s culinary artists!