Erik Stenberg
Paul Wellman

“I went to a dinner party a few months ago where all the guests sat with the farmers that grew their food, as well as the people that cooked it,” says Melissa Gomez, co-owner of Goodland Kitchen. “Everything was delicious, and we enjoyed it much more than other meals because we understood the care that went into creating it. I wanted to re-create that experience for our guests, so I decided to start the ‘Meet the Farmer’ Dinner Series.”

That series kicks off on Thursday, October 13 (with a scheduled second dinner on November 17) celebrating Fairview Gardens and their farmer Shawn McMahon. Chef Erik Stenberg — last year’s SOL Festival Iron Chef winner and this year’s runner-up — will create a five-course feast so seasonal he couldn’t be sure of the menu nine days prior to the event. “I plan on keeping things clean and classic,” Stenberg explained. “It’s a nice crossover right now between summer and fall. We still have tomatoes but we’re getting winter squash, too.” He’s planned a framework of a salad, pasta, main course (“a leg of lamb from the Jimenez Family, I hope”), an intermezzo, and dessert. “I would like to get some of Fairview’s eggs, and then a farmhouse salad with a poached egg and some of their greens would be just perfect,” he said. “And then for dessert, a soufflé and crème Anglaise with those eggs. It’s a really rich flavor.”

Stenberg admits he’s both looking forward to and a bit anxious about the setup of the meal, as all 24 guests will be seated in the kitchen itself. “I’ll feel nervous initially, but once the ball gets rolling, it will go whooshing by,” he said. “I enjoy seeing how people respond to the food. It’s a potential for immediate feedback — I feel like I’m going to learn a lot.” Both Gomez and Stenberg worked together at Fairview, and Gomez remembers, “Erik was the master of Farmers’ Markets. I saw him talk with customers about food, rattle off recipes, and suggest food pairings. He had an easygoing way of engaging people around food.”

A graduate of Johnson and Wales Culinary School in Providence, Rhode Island, Stenberg has been an itinerant chef, traveling and working in spots as diverse as Italy, Wales, and the famous Mama’s Fish House in Maui before settling in Santa Barbara for almost four years. This dinner, his time at Fairview, and his participation with SOL led him to say, “As far as local and sustainable, it’s been really fun to be part of that community. You don’t find that community everywhere.” But you will find it, in the kitchen, and at your table, at Goodland’s “Meet the Farmer” dinner.


Meet and eat with the farmer for a five-course dinner on Thursday, October 13, at Goodland Kitchen, 231 S. Magnolia Ave. Arrive at 6:30 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m., $70. To RSVP, email or call (805) 845-4300.


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