If you’re just now learning that the Taste of Santa Barbara 2024 kicks off next week and runs through May 19, you’ve already lost out on the chance to attend a few of the intimate experiences that have been scheduled to honor the legacy of Julia Child. But no fear, there’s still time to buy tickets for some of the smaller events — a couple of which are profiled below — and plenty of opportunities to get on the list for the bigger gathering of this annual celebration.

Hosted by the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience, which is a Santa Barbara offshoot of the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, the weeklong affair features farm tours, cooking classes, special dinners, and grand affairs. This year’s big-tent events include the third annual wine festival at the Presidio on Saturday, May 18, where the list of producers continues to grow. That night is also the “Lights, Camera, Julia!” screening at the Metro 4, where members of the team who produced the MAX series Julia will regale the crowd with memories of that experience. Read an interview with Julia’s showrunner Chris Keyser here.

The new and most ambitious course for Taste of Santa Barbara, however, is the Friday, May 17, night Soiree at the Casa de la Guerra. A small, curated gathering of chefs, including Massimo Falsini from Caruso’s, Alex Bollinger from El Encanto, Sergei Simonov of Loquita, Justin West of Market Forager, and Sandra Adu Zelli of Gipsy Hill Bakery, will be preparing special dishes for attendees. Cutler’s Artisan Spirits will be making cocktails, and a wide variety of wines will be provided by the Santa Barbara Vintners, including stalwarts like Star Lane and Tyler and newcomers like MarBeso. The tickets are a bit steep at $200+, but the team is doing all possible to ensure it will be money well spent.

Here are a couple spotlight events, with more to come in the upcoming week. See the full slate of events at sbce.events.

Emma West | Credit: Courtesy

Hyperlocal Vegetarian with Satellite

Necessity is the mother of Satellite, the buzzy State Street restaurant and wine bar. “Vegetarian cuisine started at Satellite because we have a unique ‘kitchen’ space,” says chef Emma West, co-owner with Drew Cuddy. “We converted two offices into our kitchen and dishroom. We have a couple of induction heating sources and some refrigerators. With the limitations, I wanted to keep things simple and fresh, vegetarian was the way.”

While West asserts that, “[her] journey as a chef really starts at our Santa Barbara County Farmers Market,” she studied hospitality management at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and then opened the beloved Julienne with her then husband Justin West. Upon the end of the marriage and the restaurant, she helped create Satellite, now open for seven years. “Satellite is really about farmer to table and farmer to glass,” she claims. “We focus on farming and low intervention. Trying to keep the intention and integrity on the ground.”

Her class will teach others how they can do the same. Veggie spring rolls with a spicy aioli sauce will allow, as she puts it, “folks to decorate the rice paper rolls with edible flowers and then fill them with a medley of raw and roasted seasonal market vegetables. I love eating and cooking with the rainbow in mind. I wanted to teach something that is visually pleasing as well as delicious tasting.” Dessert will be vegan chocolate chip cookies topped with white and black sesame seeds. West says, “I hope this class will give people confidence on what to take to a potluck or a nice idea for an appetizer and easy dessert when hosting.” 

For although West never had the opportunity to meet Julia Child, she says, “The community and relationships that develop from her work are my favorite things about her.”

Hyperlocal Vegetarian with Satellite takes place on Tuesday, May 14 at 5:30 p.m. at Apples to Zucchini Cooking School. See sbce.events/event/hyperlocal-vegetarian-with-satellite for tickets ($110) and information. 

Mezze with the Daisy

Carmen Deforest | Credit: Courtesy

Although the Turkish word “mezze” means “snack,” if you load up a plateful of appetizers, it can be a feast. That’s especially true for the class to be taught by Chef Carmen Deforest of The Daisy Restaurant. “The plate embodies the flavors that we love, really fresh and bright,” Deforest explains, “and the way we like to eat, sharing and having a little bit of everything.” Think more typical items like hummus, marinated olives, and flatbread, but then there’s a delicious dip called beet Muhammara, pungent with garlic, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, walnuts, and more, and spicy California lamb and beef Kofta meatballs.

“I know how much I love learning something new in the kitchen, whether a recipe or a new technique,” Deforest says. “It is nice to be a part of sharing something that perhaps someone will prepare again or even teach someone else!” 

Deforest and her husband and business partner Dominic Shiach have had a semi-circuitous route to the restaurant business. She didn’t begin cooking until her mid 30s after two decades in the fashion business; Shiach had had a career in film. In 2013, they opened Bookends Café on the roof of Antioch University, winning a Foodie despite having no onsite kitchen, cooking in a commissary in the Funk Zone.

They opened The Daisy (Deforest’s nickname) four months before the pandemic, only to close for 16 months during peak COVID. “We love being a part of the wonderful food community in Santa Barbara, our Arts District neighborhood, and the many farmers we are so lucky to work with,” she says about the three years they have been open since. Deforest points out, “The SBCE is such a fantastic and fun tradition that we look forward to every year.”

Mezze with the Daisy takes place on Monday, May 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Apples to Zucchini Cooking School. See sbce.events/event/mezze-with-the-daisy for tickets ($110) and information. 

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