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An Intimate Dining Experience

An interview with Lolo native and Black Sheep Private Dining Chef Rafer Jelletich

Chefs Rafer Jelletich and Tim Gwiazdon founded Black Sheep Private Dining because of a joke they would make while working at another private dining company: They were the black sheep of the kitchen. The prior company emphasized volume, while Rafer and Tim really wanted to slow down and create unique culinary experiences. Based in Kalispell, Black Sheep offers luxury in-home private dining and event catering. A scroll through their website (BlackSheepPDMT.com) highlights beautifully crafted salads, luscious cuts of meat, and mouthwatering desserts. When I connect with Rafer by phone, he’s literally cooking a meal for his daughter. 

For Black Sheep, you do multi-course plated dinners, family style events, and even campfire cookouts. What’s your favorite type of event to cook for?

We like doing unique three-course family style meals or plated four- or six-course meals with wine pairings. With smaller events, we can take our time and make everything perfect. When you do bigger gigs, it’s hard to be as precise and meticulous.

Why is it important to you that ingredients be locally sourced?

I want that money circulating in the community. It’s just good business practice. Sourcing everything from somewhere else, the prices can change drastically. It’s easier for us to be local since we’re still small-scale. I can just drive rather than wait on shipping. But if someone requests ahi, we can’t get that in Montana.

Tell me about something you cook for clients.

We do a coffee rubbed bison filet with a pomegranate white balsamic reduction. We didn’t even mean to do it—we had a different thing we were gonna put on top of the steak to add color, but we tried it and it was one of the best tasting steaks I’ve ever had. Those kinds of moments with Tim happen a lot.

What’s your process for developing and testing out new recipes? Or did you just describe it to me?

Tim will verbal an idea at me, and I’ll have time to do it, or I’ll be talking to him about an idea I have and a week later he’ll send me a picture. It’s been weird how well everything has worked out.

What’s the best compliment a chef can receive?

People saying I’ve never had that before, or it’s the best meal they’ve ever had, and asking me for recipes. That makes it more worth it.

What’s your favorite thing to cook for yourself?

I do simple everything. Things I can just start and walk away from. Tonight it’s rice, chicken and broccoli.

Do you come to Missoula city limits?

Yes. I haven’t seen a whole lot of people that offer private dining in Missoula. There’s a large untapped market.

Is there anything else you want our readers to know?

Tim is supposed to be the famous one. I just really want to highlight my partner in all this!

We like doing unique three-course family style meals or plated four- or six-course meals with wine pairings. With smaller events, we can take our time and make everything perfect.

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