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PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Friday, September 7, 2012

Head Chef Named for “Taste of the Town”

Aficionados of delectable food and fine wines are invited to savor the 31st Annual Taste of the Town, Santa Barbara’s signature culinary event that benefits the Arthritis Foundation.


Enjoy tastings from more than 80 top local restaurants and Central Coast wineries on Sunday, September 9, 2012 from 12:30-3:30p.m. at Riviera Park Gardens, 2030 Alameda Padre Serra, in Santa Barbara. The amazingly successful Connoisseurs’ Circle Pavilion will return for its third year to provide an exclusive gastronomic experience for sponsors and their guests.

Taste of the Town is thrilled to announce that renowned chef Gary Menes of Le Comptoir in Los Angeles will serve as Lead Chef for this year’s event. Menes will design a spectacular five-course meal for discriminating gourmets in the Connoisseurs’ Circle Pavilion. He and his staff will also oversee preparation of the meal, assisted by Santa Barbara City College Culinary School instructors, creating a wonderful opportunity for guests to experience Gary Menes and his culinary prowess personally and exclusively for one day at Santa Barbara’s Taste of the Town.

The event’s Leadership Council Chair, Jennifer Jaqua, commented: “Taste of the Town is a wonderful Santa Barbara tradition, and we are thrilled that Chef Gary will be taking the helm this year. At his restaurant Le Comptoir, he dazzles patrons with delightful cuisine within an interactive and fun setting, making him perfect for the unique experience provided to Taste of the Town’s Connoisseurs’ Circle Pavilion guests.”

Taste of the Town thanks its generous sponsors: BMW Santa Barbara (official Automotive Sponsor), MarBorg Industries, HUB International Insurance Services Inc., The Hutton Parker Foundation, Brown & Brown Insurance, Montecito Bank & Trust, Cottage Center for Orthopedics, Santa Barbara Orthopedic Associates, Hayashida & Associates Physical Therapy, SBClick, KEYT3, The Berry Man, Inc., 97.5 KRUZ, 106.3 The Surf, Santa Barbara News-Press and others.

All proceeds from Taste of the Town support the local programs and services of the Arthritis Foundation. The Foundation is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of 50 million people (including nearly 300,000 children) with arthritis through public health programs, advocacy, and research. Taste of the Town tickets purchased in advance are $100 per person; tickets at the door will be $125.

Tickets are limited, so early reservations are encouraged by calling the Arthritis Foundation at 805-563-4685 or by visiting TasteofTheTownSantaBarbara.com

About the Arthritis Foundation

Striking one in every five adults and 300,000 children, arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability. The Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org) is committed to raising awareness and reducing the impact of this serious, painful and unacceptable disease, which can rob people of living life to its fullest. The Foundation is the nation’s largest private funder of arthritis research, and has given more than $450 million in grants during the past six decade). It fights for health care policies that improve the lives of the millions with arthritis and provides life-enhancing information and patient education programs to empower those with arthritis. For more information, please contact the Arthritis Foundation, Santa Barbara office at 805-563-4685.

About Gary Menes

Fresh out of college with a degree in Business, Gary Menes thought more about hitting the southern California surf than applying for a job in the finance world. Summers spent at his grandfather’s house in Long Beach, CA turned into a makeshift culinary boot camp with icons such as Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse and Daniel Boulud providing the drills on shows such as Great Chefs and World Class Cuisine on The Discovery Channel. The education Menes received was comprehensive enough to walk into the chaotic kitchens of one of Food & Wine and Gourmet Magazine’s top heralded restaurants, Patina. He was hired on the spot by one of LA’s long-celebrated culinary heroes, Joachim Splichal.

From 1995-97 and again from 1998-99, Menes learned from Chef Splichal how to prepare and focus on the high standard of perfection that Angelenos had come to expect. He also learned the importance of running a business from a fiscal perspective. Next up were stints at The Dining Room, Ritz Carlton SF and Melisse followed by an eye-opening experience with Chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry in 2000.

At Thomas Keller’s world renowned flagship restaurant in Napa Valley’s Yountville, Menes learned an important lesson in respect. Respecting your ingredients, the technique and the craft of cooking but above all else, “I learned quickly that the dishwashers and commis were treated with the same respect and dignity that were shown to the Chef.”

Perhaps that’s why at his latest venture, Le Comptoir, he has chosen his team with the utmost scrutiny. He prefers to work with “geeks” who can equally appreciate the nuances of the season’s last batch of ripe figs to an $1,800 emersion circulator (of which he owns six).

After The French Laundry, Menes returned to Los Angeles to helm the kitchen at Firefly. There, he earned his first 2-star rating from The Los Angeles Times. In 2006, Menes opened Palate Food+ Wine in Glendale, California to critical acclaim and a 3-star rating. The menu featured the best of the farmer’s market highlighted by an extensive wine list. Afterwards, Menes opened Marche in Sherman Oaks, California trusting his instincts to “cook freely and with focused abandon,” which led to another successful venture and 2 ½ star rating.

Currently, Menes is running a pop-up in downtown LA. Le Comptoir is a 12-person, counter-only, dining experience that focuses on Menes’ philosophy of showcasing ingredients sourced from local farms. The objective is to demystify fine dining, omitting white table cloths and multiple sets of silverware in favor of a fun, interactive and informative setting. Menes is behind the counter, feeding, delighting and educating diners on the culinary lessons that have made him who he is today.

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