Jeff Olsson, the cofounder of Industrial Eats and New West Catering, died on Saturday, September 2. Considered the driving force for elevating Santa Barbara County wine country’s cuisine over the past two decades, he succumbed to a fast-moving colon cancer that was just diagnosed in December. 

Olsson and his wife, Janet Olsson, purchased New West Catering in 2000, primarily as a means of relocating to the Santa Ynez Valley. Their focus on live-fire, straight-from-the-source cooking codified a style that’s now almost ubiquitous in Santa Barbara and beyond. 

In 2013, they brought that recipe to the masses by opening Industrial Eats, a shared-plates concept in a warehouse district right off of 101 in Buellton. It immediately became the place to eat, drink, and meet for the entire Santa Ynez Valley, always packed with winemakers, wine lovers, and anyone seeking savory deliciousness within 100 miles. More recently, he opened Eye on I in Lompoc, which is now the common wine country fare for the west end of Santa Ynez Valley. 

“This one is hitting hard,” said urchin diver Stephanie Mutz, of Sea Stephanie Fish. “He changed this valley. He wanted everyone around him to succeed. I loved him like a brother.”


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