Featured Chefs & Restaurants: 

Irvin Velez Calderon
BoatHouse

Irvin has worked at Boathouse for 8+ years and been the head chef for the last two years.  He loves all the dishes at the restaurant, but his favorite is the local White Sea Bass.  He has been cooking for the last 14 years and it has become more of a hobby than a job for him.

Peter McNee
Convivo

San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer wrote of Chef Peter McNee’s food, “You can practically taste the chef’s passion in each and every bite.” He is approaching his one-year anniversary as owner/chef or Convivo.

James Siao
Finch & Fork

In each one of his clean, simple dishes—from small bites to full meals—Executive Chef Siao lovingly pairs less than six ingredients, mostly drawn from the bounty of the central coast. And the community loves him back: the press is smitten by his creative, memorable meals, and loyal regulars come back again and again to see what daily special he’s cooked up this time.

Steven Snook
First & Oak at Mirabelle

Since graduating culinary school in his native England, Chef Snook has worked continuously in Michelin Star restaurants, including six years with esteemed British chef Gordon Ramsay.  At First & Oak, Chef Snook has insisted on using the highest possible quality ingredients in his cuisine, and prides himself on maintaining a close relationship with his purveyors.

Weston Richard
Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant

Weston caught the “cooking bug” from his best friend’s dad, who was a professional chef. He began his training at the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. One Le Cordon Bleu Diploma, an AOS in Culinary Arts and several other hospitality certifications later, Weston headed to Santa Barbara to make his mark.

Michael Hutchings
Michael’s Catering

Chef Michael worked at a variety of restaurants, clubs and food facilities that broadened his
culinary style. Now, he oversees a catering service business in Santa Barbara, California.
Chef Michael Hutchings brings many years experience to a wide range of cuisines.

Nimita Dhirajlal
Nimita’s Cuisine

Nimita prides herself in being able to offer Ayurvedic meals geared to support health through a vegetarian diet by collaborating with local farmers and finally nurturing members of our community. Nimita’s passion has led her to create Nimita’s Cuisine, which offers weekly deliveries to private individuals. Her products can be found in Fairview Gardens, Lazy Acres and Pacific Health Foods.

Robert Perez
Oveja Blanca Restaurante/
The Black Sheep

Chef Robért is chef de cuisine at the black sheep restaurant and Oveja Blanca (White Sheep) Restaurante in Santa Barbara, California. Both restaurants focus on local, sustainable and as much as possible, organic ingredients. Black sheep is a gastro pub with small plate concept and Asian influences. White Sheep is global Latin fare with strong influences from Peru, Mexico and Spain.

Patxi’s Pizza

Patxi’s opened it’s first restaurant in the summer of 2004 in Palo Alto when a pizza lover and avid entrepreneur, Bill Freeman, partnered with an old friend and expert pizza maker, Francisco “Patxi” Azpiroz. Nearly a decade and multiple locations later, the pair have turned their passion for fresh, high-quality deep dish pizza and genuine hospitality into a signature experience that can only be summed up as “Patxi’s.”

Joseph Baumel
Persona Woodfired Pizzeria

Joe is the CEO of our affiliate Persona Wood Fired Pizzeria in Santa Barbara, California since its formation in February 2012.  Joe has worked in the culinary arts for various restaurants and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Napa where he graduated with an Associate in Occupational Studies.

Renaud Gonthier
Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro

The Executive Pastry Chef and co-founder of Renaud’s, brings a French flair
and over 20 years of culinary experience to Southern California. Chef Renaud has also demonstrated his culinary expertise television viewers nationwide, having been featured twice on the Food Network’s Emeril Live and on Sugar Rush with Warren Brown.

Jesus Charco
Santa Barbara FisHouse

“Chuey” has worked for the FisHouse for the last 10+ years and been the head chef for the last 3 years.  He started cooking in his teenage years and loves creating nightly specials for our establishment.  With his creative ideas and knack for flavor combinations, cooking is a passion of his.

Celebrity Judges:

Jen Jasinski (Judge)

Jen is the first Denver chef to win The James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest award. She was a finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters Season 5. In 2016 she was named a semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef award. Her restaurants, Rioja, Bistro Vendôme, Euclid Hall and Stoic & Genuine are consistently listed among the top restaurants in Denver.

Joey Buttitta (Judge)

Joey is a member of the NewsChannel 3 morning anchor team. He is on the air from 5-7am providing viewers from Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties with the news of the day. You may also recognize him from season 27 of “The Amazing Race” where with his fiance, Kelsey Gerckens, they won $1 million dollars after crossing the finish line first.

Krista Harris (Judge)

Local food has been Krista’s passion since she first started shopping at farmers markets in the mid 1980s. In 2009 she started Edible Santa Barbara, a food magazine devoted to local, seasonal and sustainable food. Edible Santa Barbara has been awarded the 2011 Publication of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation, along with the other titles currently publishing within the Edible Communities network.

Max Mackissock (Judge)

Named ‘Denver’s Best Chef’, winning ‘Best New Restaurant’ for two of his previous projects, earning a spot on ‘America’s 50 Best New Restaurants’ from Bon Appetit, and being awarded Denver’s first-ever four star review from The Denver Post, Max has never been more eager than to open the door’s of his best spot yet, Bar Dough.