In Memoriam:
Cary Stuart Soltz

It has taken me a while to write about my father, who died on March 4. Summarizing our relationship and who he was to me, and the world, has been hard. My memories are so full of laughter, some tears, but mostly gratitude.

Cary Soltz was a chef, and cooking was something he learned from his mother and grandmother. He never attended culinary school but was well-recognized up and down California: L’Auberge in Ojai, Riera’s in Berkeley, and in Santa Barbara at the San Ysidro Ranch and the Wine Cask, to name a few. He opened Eat Your Heart Out in Victoria Court with his friend of 45 years, Janet Goode. It was a store and a deli with the best candy bins, and where his fresh pasta business in the early ’80s was formed.

When my mother passed away suddenly in 1986, Dad took custody of me and was the hero I needed at such an important time. He left the hectic restaurant business the next year to have a better schedule to care for me as a single father, when he became the executive chef of Cottage Hospital. He was so successful in reinventing hospital food service that when Julia Child had hip surgery, she insisted on meeting the Chef. She called his phone extension and was amused to hear him saying, in her voice, “This is Julia. The Chef isn’t in right now; please leave a message, and he will return your call after meal service.”

He went up to meet her, and they formed a new friendship. She was so impressed with the food at the hospital, she had him interviewed for a write-up in Food Management magazine. He discussed that the hospital had gone gourmet, with the Chef’s secret being “We aim to please.” That was the biggest bucket list item to check off: Julia Child giving him accolades for his food.

As a young man, Cary was an excellent baseball player, playing as a catcher. He was on a farm league team for a few years and even tried out for the Detroit Tigers. He lived in Denver for more than 40 years, and among his extensive work experience, he managed the bar and restaurant of the hotel the Denver Broncos stayed in during training. To say he was a Broncos fan is an understatement.

In addition to working as a chef, Cary was part of the National Restaurant Association, American Culinary Federation, I Madonnari, and the Santa Barbara Bouillabaisse Festival. People may remember his cooking demonstrations for Jordano’s, Sur La Table, and Pilsbury. He won several recipe contests and taught at the Santa Barbara City College Culinary and Adult Education Programs.

When Cary retired in 2001, he continued to volunteer at Cottage Hospital for many years. He also worked as a caterer with his friend Laurel Lyle, and they also worked together in the kitchen at Peabody Charter School.

Cary lived out his final years at Valle Verde. Naturally, he gave lots of feedback about their food service, taught some cooking classes, played Taboo and Bingo, did a crossword puzzle every day, read lots of books, and enjoyed living there. Our family cannot thank the staff enough for the amazing care and community they provided for him.

My dad taught me what hard work looks like. He taught me about sports, jazz, and lots of other music, sometimes by blasting tunes while he waited in line to pick me up at school, his way of adding to the hip-hop and grunge music we listened to. Most importantly, my father taught me to love fully, and to laugh, finding humor even in the most traumatic things.

My sister Jodi Fensten remembers how the big conversation was always about food: “a recipe, or how to improve a flavor, or to be sure not to overcook this, or to add that. Many years ago, he came to my firehouse in Aurora, Colorado, and cooked a meal, or I should say a feast, of salmon and shrimp in puff pastry with risotto and a dill white sauce — oh, the lesson on white sauce — for the whole crew. A meal none of us will forget. To this day, I still make his recipe.”

Cary is preceded in death by his parents, Ruth and Morris Soltz; sister, Jeanne McGlothin, who he loved dearly; many cousins, aunts, and uncles; and his daughter Jill. He leaves behind his daughters and their partners Kori (Brian) and Jodi (Mike); his brother-in-law Ron, who we cannot thank enough for all he did and continues to do for our family; his friend Janet and her sisters, “The Goode Girls”; niece, Jobi; nephew, Randy; his grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and many friends and coworkers he adored over the years. He will be remembered for his humor, his cooking, his love of sports, and his excellent stories.

Cary Soltz did not want a memorial. If you feel like doing something in his name, please consider donating to the SBCC School of Culinary Arts and Hotel Management ( or to The Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation (


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