Looking at Lilac from the outside in. ©2020 Kenneth Jarecke / Contact Press Images

Have a Life Worth Living?

Thank one of those creatives we keep hearing about.

Kenneth Jarecke
7 min readApr 21, 2020

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Sirio Maccioni, who some call the greatest restauranteur of our time, is dead. He died eighty-eight years after the same day of his birth. There’s something beautiful in that symmetry, something artistic. Which is fitting as Maccioni was a member of the creative class. He was the kind of person who made things that were unnecessary. Sure, we all need food to stay alive, but we don’t need the kind of food that was served in Le Cirque, the restaurant that made Maccioni famous. Food like that is a luxury. It’s one of those precious things that make life worth living. It is art.

Chef Jeremy Engebretson in the kitchen of Lilac. © 2020 Kenneth Jarecke / Contact Press Images

Jeremy Engebretson is a member of the creative class as well. He owns the best restaurant in Billings, Montana. Which is fitting, as he’s also the best chef in Billings, Montana. Normally this is a good thing, but we aren’t living in normal times.

Making a living by producing things that people don’t need is tough. Every member of the creative class knows this. They’ve been constantly reminded of this fact (by everyone), since they first picked up a paint brush, a camera or a sauté pan. They knew it was going to be tough, but they did it anyway. They accepted the challenge.

UberEats driver waiting to pickup his delivery. ©2020 Kenneth Jarecke / Contact Press Images

When it comes to creativity, Billings isn’t the most inviting place. It’s not the town’s fault, it’s just not in their DNA. The place was built on tangible things. Products one could load onto a boxcar. Traditional luxury in this part of the world is defined by a full belly and a warm bed, which, with a lot of hard work, is about what the land around here can provide.

Running the numbers at the end of the day. ©2020 Kenneth Jarecke / Contact Press Images

Engebretson knows this as well. He knew going in that his passion for great food would be a tough-sell in these parts, but again, he accepted the challenge. Creative types normally do…

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Kenneth Jarecke

I'm a husband, dad, photographer, a writer (sort of), an occasional rancher and the Founder of The Curious Society. https://www.curious-society.org