It’s impossible to know what Julia Child would make of today’s hipster-celebrity chef motif, but it’s certain that she would love how much food culture is under a bright spotlight. We know that because, before passing away in her home at Montecito’s Casa Dorinda in 2004, she created The Julia Child Foundation with the explicit goal of elevating the world’s culinary knowledge, specifically through supporting student-chefs, food historians, and programs that help all ages improve their food literacy. “We provide grants to other nonprofits in the fields of gastronomy and the culinary arts,” explained the foundation’s Todd Schulkin. “Hopefully people grow up to be better eaters and better cooks.”
But a few years into that mission, the foundation realized it needed a more public face, as well. “The foundation is run quite virtually, but technically our headquarters are in Santa Barbara, and we definitely consider that our spiritual home,” said Schulkin, who lives in London. “We were looking for something more centered in Santa Barbara, with the public involved, that would be the kind of event that Julia would want to go to and enjoy — rather than something all about Julia, which she would have skipped.”
Around that time, the folks at the Bacara Resort approached Schulkin with a food festival idea that seemed right up Child’s alley, a weekend that combined great eats with cooking classes, informative panels of experts, and more. “Bacara embraced that spirit,” said Schulkin, so now The Julia Child Foundation is the beneficiary of the Santa Barbara Food & Wine Weekend, which goes down for the third year April 15-17.
It kicks off on Friday night with some highlight reel footage of Child followed by a panel discussion between John Gray of the National Museum of American History (home to Julia Child’s kitchen), food journalist Russ Parsons, and Schulkin himself. Saturday’s menu includes more talks, classes, and meals, and Sunday features a walk-around tasting with multiple purveyors. See bacaraculinaryweekend.com for all prices and pass opportunities.