Artist of the West: Taking Chances

Kira Fercho’s vibrant paintings have a freestyle impressionism that instills spontaneity


Images of the West: Hearts of Nature, 50 Years of American Wilderness

Honoring the long-standing love affair with unfettered landscapes

Chef Warren Bibbins “Bibber” sits in the dining room at his restaurant Olive B’s in Big Sky

Dining Out: Simply Good Food

Olive B’s Bistro offers Continental cuisine the Big Sky way

Written by Seabring Davis  

Seabring Davis

Other Contributions

Eclectic Parkitecture Uniting Color Historic Symmetry The Year Of The Horse A Yellowstone Club Retreat Hearth and Soul Building a Timeless Legacy An Uncommon Cabin in the Woods Timeless Fusion Mountain Tradition A Modern Vision Summer Camp Perfect Harmony Winter Getaway: Red Lodge, Montana Beyond the Cabin A Fine Balance Good Country Authentically Western A Home for the Ages Where the Living is Easy Music in the Mountains The Flight of the Hummingbird Living the Dream Integrating Nature Mountain Exposure Letter from the Editor: Waiting for Summer Letter from the Editor: Arts Economy Letter from the Editor: First Frost Letter from the Editor: Why Art? Letter from the Editor: Up Close and Personal Letter from the Editor: A Tradition of Talent Letter from the Editor: Winter Reflection Dining Out: The Taste of Whitefish Letter from the Editor: How Big is Your Bucket Letter from the Editor: Falling Short Western Design: Rustic Allure Dining Out: Fish Food Western Design: In the Studio with Painter Hugh Wilson Western Design: Home Base From the Editor Dining Out: Tradition, with a Twist Letter from the Editor: I Know Where the Fish Are Letter from the Editor: Big Sky Country Letter from the Editor: Forging Ahead Dining Out: Barn Dance Letter from the Editor: Like an Open Road Letter from the Editor: The Language of Fishing Letter from the Editor: Cast Again Editor’s Letter: The Passing Season Dining Out: Saffron Table Dining Out: Lone Mountain Ranch Serves Up a Sense of Place Western Design: Uniquely Rustic Western Design: JLF & Associates Letter from the Editor: Season of Possibility Dining Out: A Montana Tradition, Chico Hot Springs Letter from the Editor: Design Trends Dining Out: The Ranch at Rock Creek Redefines Montana Cuisine Dining Out: Seasonal Bliss Western Design: Refined Rustic Letter from the Editor: Winter Wave Letter from the Editor: Blending Seasons Western Design: A New Mountain Lodge Western Design: Historic Haven Western Design: In the Studio with the Viers Western Focus: Classic Connection: Miller Architects Western Design: Reviving the Barn From the Editor: Seasons of Simplicity Dining Out: Innovation Meets Tradition at Bisl Letter from the Editor: What is art? Dining Out: Holland Lake Lodge, Rustic Wonderful Letter from the Editor: The Secret Weapon Letter from the Editor: Fly Fishing for the Greater Good Western Design: Mountain Zen Western Design: Creekside Contemporary Living Big Sky on HGTV The Spirit of the West in Jackson, Wyoming Letter from the Editor: First Snow Dining Out: The Old Hotel Letter from the Editor: Signs of Summer Letter from the Editor: The Angler’s Sojourn Dining Out: Simply Good Food From the Editor: Hit the Road Making a Statement: Miller Architects Letter from the Editor: Winter’s Toll Letter from the Editor: Evolving Home Dining Out: Comfort Food Western Design: Cowboy Modern Western Design: The Idaho Club Letter from the Editor: Talking Art Dining Out: Conserving Montana One Table at a Time Dining Out: Cosmopolitan Cuisine at TEN Dining Out: Ranch to Restaurant Letter from the Editor: Staying Power
Photography by Janie Osborne  
September 2014

Chef Warren Bibbins’ restaurant philosophy is simple: There is a demand for good food.    

With that in mind, the menu at Olive B’s Bistro in Big Sky features the kind of ingredients that peak both your curiosity and your appetite.    

Think Bleu Cheese Crème Brulee, a starter on the dinner menu, that includes smoked duck breast, a grape relish, baby arugula with a shallot vinaigrette and ciabatta bread crisps. Or the Pork Prime Rib Chop, which comes with sweet potato and spinach hash and a pearl onion, red grape, Flathead cherry, apple chutney. It would be worth a drive through Gallatin Canyon just to eat beef tenderloin with Maine lobster truffle mashed potatoes. There’s even a grilled tofu offering.

While Bibbins’ business philosophy is simple, his plates are loaded with complex flavors. Diversity drives the offerings at Olive B’s (named for his first daughter) and since opening the doors of his “Continental bistro,” Bibbins has made his mark in Big Sky.   

“Cooking is my passion,” he says in a thick New York accent, “I don’t know what I’d do if I wasn’t in this business.” A veteran restaurateur, this is his fourth restaurant and he’s lived in Montana since 1990. He trained at the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park and trained from the ground up in kitchens back East. But since he counts his years by the number of season passes he’s purchased at Big Sky Resort, the mountain lifestyle suits him better.    

A regular day for Bibbins means, “doing 1,000 little things.” That includes donning the chef’s coat daily, ordering all the food, checking in a wine order, calling the “fish guy,” taking reservations and making coffee. Not that his staff doesn’t shoulder a lot of the responsibilities too — they do — but Bibbins is a DIY kind of owner and he isn’t afraid to handle the minutiae as well as his grill. Along with his wife, Jennie, who is also the restaurant’s dessert chef, Bibbins runs a well-managed small-town bistro.   

Located in the meadow, across from the golf course, the dining room at Olive B’s is oriented toward two community landmarks: historic Soldier’s Chapel and the iconic Lone Peak. The restaurant, designed by Locati Architects and constructed by Blue Ribbon Builders, blends rustic mountain architecture with contemporary design. At the entrance, wine racks, featuring some of the area’s best selections to be paired with Olive B’s hearty fare, surround the host stand. The cocktail bar lines one end of the room, simultaneously providing the perfect amount of visibility for a lively social scene with the ideal amount of privacy to still have a conversation. The open kitchen is lined with brick, a nod to Continental cuisine’s Euro roots, and guests love to watch Bibbins and his crew cook and assemble entrées from the bustle of the dining room.    

Although Bibbins draws primarily from European culinary influences (French, Swiss, Italian), the appeal of regional ingredients is not lost to him. When in season, there are items such as bison burgers, fresh-picked chanterelle mushrooms and huckleberry key lime pie, or the staple of locally made pasta. But Montana is a tough place to produce food all year, so as a chef he doesn’t want to be limited to simply what’s available down the road. Oysters. Alaskan crab for crab cakes. Ahi tuna.    

“The influences of Continental cuisine comes from all over the world,” Bibbins explains. “A little bit of this from here, a little bit of seasonal ingredients there. I try to source the products that are the best so that I can make good food consistently.”  

It’s just that simple.

Editor’s Note: Olive B’s is open Monday through Saturday from December to April and June to October.

Pheasant with a Sweet Corn Fritter and Grand Veneer Sauce

Olive B’s Big Sky Bistro by Chef Warren Bibbins  |  Serves 6

Grand Veneer Sauce:

3 cups red wine
1 bay leaf
6 juniper berries
1 3-inch sprig fresh rosemary
6 black peppercorns
2 shallots, chopped
½ cup sour cream

Place all ingredients, except sour cream, into a saucepan. On medium-high heat, reduce by half. Pureé in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl; add sour cream, mix until combined. Chill until ready to serve. 

Sweet Corn Griddle Fritter: 

2 grinds fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 cup butter
½ cup shallots, fine chopped
1/8  cup green onion, thin sliced (hearty ends)
1 ¼ cups corn
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon baking powder 
1/3 cup buttermilk

In a sauté pan sweat shallots, green onion, butter, fresh pepper. Add corn and sugar, sweat. In a mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, paprika and baking powder. Next, whisk buttermilk and eggs into dry ingredients. Fold vegetables into wet mixture. Scoop ¼ cup rounded mixture onto a heated flattop griddle. Cook through, let cool and brush with clarified butter before serving.


6  10-ounce pheasant breasts, skin-on airline cut
Salt and pepper to season
4 tablespoons Wondra flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup red seedless grapes
2 cups brandy
36 asparagus spears, grilled

Season pheasant breasts with salt and pepper. Coat with flour. Pan sear skin side down in hot skillet with olive oil, canola blend. Sear 4 minutes per side. Add red grapes and remove pan from flame. Next, pour brandy over chicken. Return pan to flame; be careful, it will ignite. When flame burns out, put pan in 450-degree oven for 9-10 minutes. Serve with grilled asparagus, corn fritter and grand veneer sauce. Enjoy!

Olive B’s waitress, Melissa Emery assists customers with orders during the bustling lunchtime.

The restaurant is named after the owners’ oldest daughter, Olive Bibbins.

Alaskan Crab Cakes are a popular menu item.

Waiter Jeremy Wood displays two popular menu items, the Turkey Bacon Wrap, right, and the Olive B’s Salad.

Serving beer, wine and alcohol, Olive B’s features a full service bar.

Chris Rennau, front, and Warren Bibbins, prepare entrees in the busy kitchen.

Olive B’s Bistro’s modern interior features an open kitchen and was designed by local architect Greg Dennee of Locati Architects.

Owner/Chef Warren Bibbins is ready to present Olive B’s renowned Mud Pie to eagerly awaiting customers.

Pheasant with a Sweet Corn Fritter and Grand Veneer Sauce (Recipe at left)