With a new cooking reality show popping up virtually every week on television, a Whole Foods coming soon to upper State Street, and interest in cooking and greenmarkets at an all-time high, we decided to take a look inside the workings of two of the most happening restaurants in town-Downey’s, a Santa Barbara institution, and the Hungry Cat, a new restaurant started by a celebrity-chef couple from Los Angeles and run by some young potential rising stars in the Santa Barbara culinary firmament. George Yatchisin sat down with John and Liz Downey to discuss their legendary restaurant’s 25th anniversary, while Charles Donelan chased the crew from the Hungry Cat through the Farmers Market and then ate the consequences.
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This year, for the first time in human history, more people will live in urban areas than in rural lands. Though the tipping point will most likely be reached-or perhaps already has been-without fanfare, its significance cannot be overlooked. With this new age comes a whole new set of rules, values, and views that threaten to leave many of our most celebrated traditions behind as we work to reconcile past methods of survival with a less agrarian lifestyle. Here in the United States, with the ever-growing beast of urban sprawl spilling from cities toward the horizon, the rural, agricultural spaces that were the societal backbone of previous generations are fast becoming zigzags of highways connecting suburbs to shopping centers.
Now that just about everybody but Exxon has finally admitted that global warming is a reality, the opportunity to make money is obvious. From the labs of multinational corporations to suburban garages, inventors all over the globe are trying to find ways to rescue the world and get rich doing it.
Santa Barbara, which likes to think of itself as the birthplace of the environmental movement, is holding its own pretty well in this contest. The array of astonishing inventions pouring out of UCSB now includes film-thin photovoltaic cells as well as super-efficient LED lights. In the world beyond academia as well there is a groundswell of green innovators, and people eager to cultivate them.
When Dan Randall first started coffee roasting 15 years ago, it was with one intention-to create the kind of gourmet, organic coffee he loved. His girlfriend at the time was unimpressed. “She didn’t like my stuff,” Randall said recently. “Her idea of a good cup of coffee was Farmer Brothers. If it didn’t taste like a brown paper bag brewed through a gym sock, she didn’t like it.”