Featured Chefs & Restaurants:
Chef Leticia Mendoza has been with Casa Blanca Restaurant and Cantina since day one. She started working in the pantry doing prep, but soon she moved through the ranks with her hard work and creativity. She is now responsible for the whole kitchen. From daily specials to her twist on authentic Mexican cuisine, we are proud to call her our chef.
Finch & Fork
Outpost at Goodland Hotel
In each one of his clean, simple dishes, 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. Loyal regulars come back again and again to see what daily special he’s cooked up.
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.
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.”
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.
Since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. He’s worked with Eric Greenspan and Alain Ducasse. He’s always wanted to travel and learn different techniques. He ended up in Bali with his best friend from culinary school, which inspired them to open up Sama Sama in Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara FisHouse
*People’s Choice Award*
“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.
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.
Emily Nordee (Judge)
Emily Nordee is the public relations director for Evans Hardy + Young, a local communications agency specializing in food and hospitality. She has been behind many successful national marketing campaigns and is a food and beverage writer for Food Republic, Cooking District, Examiner.com, Gayot.com, Tour & Tasting Magazine, Drink Me Magazine and the blog Em a la Mode.