With chefs achieving rock-star status these days, it’s no longer a secret that Santa Barbara City College’s Culinary Arts program is an awesome and affordable jumping-off point for aspiring Emeril Lagasses and Bobby Flays. For more than 45 years, classes like Meat Analysis, Advanced Pastries, and Sanitation have laid the groundwork for students who’ve taken over such Santa Barbara kitchens as bouchon, The Palace Grill, and San Ysidro Ranch or opened their own restaurants in San Francisco and Los Angeles. “They can be as successful as their abilities and drive take them,” said the department’s chair, Randy Bublitz, who’s been at SBCC since 1993 and currently oversees about 120 students in the two-year program.
And now, with the food culture craze gone global, there’s a study-abroad component, taking a couple dozen students to Europe for a month each summer. Last year was France, and this year “they’re going to be studying the food and beverage culture of Spain and Portugal,” said Bublitz, whose students will be based in Madrid but also visit Toledo to the south as well as Lisbon and Porto in Portugal. “They’ll be getting lectures, exploring markets, and visiting production facilities like wineries, olive mills, bakeries, and sausage- and salami-making facilities.”
To help defray the costs of the $6,500 trip, the Wine Cask — whose co-owner Mitchell Sjerven teaches Restaurant Ownership at SBCC — is hosting a Spanish-themed fundraising dinner prepared and served by the students under the direction of Chef David Rosner on April 11. “The money that comes from the sale of tickets to this dinner or donations is divided out for the students going to Spain,” said Bublitz, noting that last year’s students had about $900 knocked off the overall cost. “Essentially, they’re working for their supper.”