Feast Raw Bar & Bistro

photos by Zach Hoffman, by Jessica Lewis

Meals that transport me to another time or place and conjure up memories of home have always been my most enjoyable. Feast Raw Bar and Bistro presents an atmosphere that is both warm and relaxing and exciting and vibrant - the perfect escape from the snowy winter wonderland that is Bozeman.  

Without a set cuisine, Feast provides a variety of exquisite meals, ensuring there is a dish to please any palate. The menu is inspired by seasonal organic ingredients and incorporates both traditional and world cuisine. Feast takes pride in serving sustainable seafood and locally sourced meats and produce. Fine ingredients from around the world inspire the fusion-style menu, and the passion of its chefs and staff create a truly unique experience. The menu focuses on simple preparations, creating dishes that are simultaneously delicious and light, making Feast a standout in the Bozeman restaurant scene. Since opening, the restaurant has been busy and the local response has been overwhelmingly positive. Raw dishes include items such as ceviche, daily sashimi, or oysters, but also include a unique Bison Carpaccio for those of us who still want the Montana feel. If you are feeling exotic, you can also find plates of Ethiopian-spiced gold lentils - my absolute favorite and go-to order - or Vietnamese chicken wings and duck pad thai.

Feast is co-owned by Steve Kuntz and Caroline Doern. Steve, chef and owner, was trained in Portland, Oregon at the Western Culinary Institute and then studied for two years with a select group of professionals in San Francisco, California. Steve then moved to Bozeman and started a custom catering company called Montana Epicurean. Caroline, executive chef and owner, has had a passion for food for 17 years. Seven years ago she became a personal chef and started a catering company. I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to both Steve and Caroline. Their passion for food not only inspired me but absolutely blew me away.

Jessica Lewis: Tell me a little about yourself, what made you want to get into the restaurant business?

Caroline Doern: I was a personal chef for many years in Bozeman, and Steve and I had worked together quite a bit with Montana Epicurean, a local catering company. After long hours in the kitchen, we would just talk about our future and dreams and owning a restaurant came up. We wanted to hire our friends, peers and local creative people to do really cool things and use cutting edge stuff, things that Bozeman hadn’t really seen. So, eventually the opportunity came up and we partnered up with some other amazing people and basically got really lucky over and over again. And still to this day, we get lucky every single day. People say, “Oh wow, your dream came true,” but this was never even a dream because it’s just so far beyond what I could have ever imagined for my life. My passion for food comes from my love of eating but also creating, nurturing and entertaining people.

JL: How was Feast conceptualized? How did this place come about?

Steve Kuntz: We both have different food backgrounds in terms of what we are interested in and where we come from, but we both love everything. We are fans of ethnic cuisines and regional foods of all types. So, when we were trying to look at not just what we wanted to do, but what the market needed here, we had a really hard time saying this genre is going to work for both of us and provide that market niche. We said let’s just do the things we love and lump it all together and if we can’t categorize it simply to fit into a directory then we’re Feast. We kept hammering at it but realized it was a waste of time to try and fit into the box and decided to just do what we love.

CD: Over the years, we’ve had plenty of experience doing what we love and coming up with menus for clientele, and people jumped on board and loved it. We felt confident just because when you do what you love and you do it right, then people want to enjoy it. Feast was such a perfect name; a feast encapsulates all kinds of different food. I envisioned people gathering and just enjoying being together and eating. I wanted that to be the thing that ties people.

JL: What makes Feast unique in the Bozeman Food Scene? What do you offer that other places don’t?

CD: What we do is endless and that never changes. We would like to believe that what we provide is the very best quality food, dining, service and atmosphere that encapsulates into one experience. We pay attention to the details, all of them and every way that we possibly can. Our creativity too; we’re always changing, and everyday we have new specials. We don’t just settle for average or good enough; we try to constantly push the envelope with ourselves. I think that sets us apart.

SK: Also the variety of seafood. You can get sushi, and a lot of places will have a fish or two, but between oysters, ceviche, sashimi and three or four fish items, we have so much here. We’re in Montana, but seafood flies in everyday and is just as fresh as being on the Coast. Technology is amazing, and we have the opportunity to get fresh fish every single day.

JL: What do you want people to experience here when they step through your doors?

SK: A warm greeting and a sense that they’re coming into a place where they’re going to be taken care of. It’s a big part of hospitality and we understand it. Whoever it is that you’re bringing in, whether its your elderly grandmother or screaming toddler, what can we do to make your experience good here and how can we help you enjoy yourself? And that’s kind of how we look at every part of it.

CD:  [Feast] doesn’t have that typical Montana feel; it’s kind of like a little oasis in here. We want people to be able to come in and feel like they’re stepping into a new world of being nurtured and taken care of. Montana is a pretty harsh environment in a lot of ways; people work really hard physically here and the weather is really harsh for most of the year. Then of course during the beautiful times of the year when people are visiting we want to show people that it’s not just steak and potatoes when you are in Montana; we have some nice fine dining and awesome service. And great wine, we’re really proud of our wine selection.

JL: I know you have a program that gives back to the Bozeman community. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?

SK: Feast gives. Wednesday and Sunday nights 10% of all oyster sales goes back to a nonprofit organization each month that we pick. We and our management team reach out to our staff for recommendations. We definitely have people who hear about it and then contact us; it’s interesting to see the depth of the non-profit community in this town. We love that we can help all of these different organizations from Eagle Mount to the Public Library and all of the foundations that they have.

CD: It’s so amazing what people are doing in our community and it’s tough to choose just one a month because there are so many people doing amazing thing that we completely, 100% support. We try to spread it around and do our part; we get a lot out of the community. So being able to give back is what we should do.

JL: What’s your most popular dish here right now?

CD & SK: Probably our catch of the day. The fish changes, whether its snapper, sea bass or halibut but the dish is prepared with a coconut-mango sticky rice. I joke around that it doesn’t really matter what the fish is, that people are just getting it for the coconut-mango sticky rice with a side of whatever vegetable is in season. It’s decadent but also light and it’s tropical; it’s a dish that people maybe reminisce of going on vacation. Our crab cakes are very popular too; we use quality crab that doesn’t have all of the fillers.

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