Growing Up: Upon taking culinary classes as an early teenager, Chef Adam Shoebridge became infatuated with cooking, recalling how naturally it came to him. Ever since he can remember, the North Carolina native has always held a job, sometimes multiple, at a restaurant. Today, he works at Helena Avenue Bakery in the Funk Zone, where he’s shedding light on the Southern cuisine of his youth.
Favorite Dishes: Shrimp and grits and Nashville hot chicken.
On the Road: Shoebridge’s kitchen experiences span geographically — from Hong Kong to Australia — and culturally, cooking everything from Jamaican to Lebanese. In his early years, he jumped from restaurant to restaurant, though he had a formative time working at Avondale in Colorado, where he commiserated with well-known chefs from Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C.
Southern Star: After a few more jobs, Shoebridge found himself employed in “the hardest job he has ever had,” working for legendary Southern, low-country cuisine expert Sean Brock at Husk Nashville. Shoebridge spent long days doing his own prep work, a philosophy aimed at teaching chefs to learn all the steps and processes that go into making a dish. He then moved to Australia, cooking at a wine bar where he never created the same dish twice, and then Hong Kong.
Current Mission: Shoebridge followed his girlfriend to her hometown of Santa Barbara in 2017. Here, the chef wants to “shed a new light on Southern cuisine” and show people that Southern cooking is more than just “fried chicken and mayonnaise sandwiches.”
Case in point is his Suite C Dinner series, in which the menu promises a Southern-inspired dinner where “high society meets blue collar.”
Tasting Suite C: The starters for the first Suite C Dinner last month impressed: There was caviar with potato chips (a great textural vehicle for the eggs), barbecued oysters with country ham and XO sauce (whose charred flavor contrasted the light and bright ocean flavor), and black truffle with cornbread and popcorn cream, which came through in a salty, velvety aftertaste that was reminiscent of movie-theater popcorn. They were followed by shrimp and grits, short rib with scallion and embered mushrooms, and a cherry pie. Then came the March 1 Nashville hot chicken night and a Fat Tuesday dinner on March 5.
Upcoming Suite Cs: You can find Shoebridge making a variety of sandwiches and salads every day, 7 a.m.-3 p.m., at Helena Avenue Bakery (31 Anacapa St., Ste. C; helenaavenuebakery.com). But dive deeper into his cuisine by attending one of the next Suite C dinners: Memphis Ribs on March 12 ($17), more Nashville Hot Chicken ($17) on April 5, and another Memphis Ribs on April 12. Make reservations via nightout.com or call (805) 880-3383.