The late Julia Child, America’s first celebrity TV chef and decidedly Santa Barbara’s most famous foodie, will be feted June 6-8 at Bacara Resort & Spa in an inaugural food and wine weekend presented in partnership with Bacara, the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts and Edible Magazine.
The weekend will include films, classes, panel discussions, wine and food demonstrations and tastings, and a neighborhood marketplace at the oceanfront hotel in western Goleta. The focus is on Santa Barbara’s fabulous resources but national talent will be on hand to discuss food writing and even a foreign culinary film.
Montecito resident Eric Spivey is the chairman of the Santa Barbara-based Julia Child Foundation that was established in 1995. The nonprofit grant-making organization primarily funds research and scholarships for professional culinary training as well as other activities in the fields of gastronomy and culinary arts.
With great foresight, Child, a longtime Santa Barbara resident who died in 2004, left her publicity rights to the foundation, which carefully protects the use of her name, images and copyrighted material, and continues to honor her policy of declining commercial endorsements.
“The foundation takers great pride in honoring and fostering Julia’s legacy through its activities and the organization it supports,” Spivey said.
Spivey and his wife, Cynthia, both dedicated lovers of food and wine, have been intimately involved in the organization and promotion of the three-day event at Bacara, 8301 Hollister Ave. Spivey said the hotel approached the foundation with the concept of an annual food and wine weekend emphasizing the splendors of Santa Barbara.
The Spiveys, both UC Santa Barbara graduates, moved back to the South Coast in 2000 after living in 10 cities over an 18-year period, among them the Bay Area; Austin, Texas; Chicago; Melbourne, Australia; Mexico City and Cuernavaca, Mexico; and New York City. Their three children, now young adults, were born in three different countries.
Cynthia Spivey has hosted many cooking events at her home in support of nonprofit organizations such as the Dream Foundation, Lotusland and Santa Barbara Police Activities League. She continues to be involved with all things culinary though Instagram and on her blog, The Water is Smiling.
The Spiveys’ “Julia” connection began in 1981 when they were invited to the inaugural meeting of the American Institute of Wine & Food hosted by Child and Robert Mondavi in Santa Barbara. Spivey was working in the wine business at the time and his wife was on the board of the AIWF’s chapter in New York, where they were living.
Fast forward to today and the couple agree that the Bacara food and wine weekend idea “seemed to fit all the criteria that Julia would have supported,” Spivey said.
“The weekend events will be educational with a broad exploration of gastronomy, and, of course, will be great fun!” he said. “We have no doubt that Julia would have loved to attend this event herself.”
If You Go
The food and wine immersion begins the evening of June 6 with a wine reception presented by the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association. Samples from more than 40 varietals from 16 vineyards and from top winemakers will lead off the weekend. In addition to wine, each table will include a culinary tasting selected from that winery by Bacara executive chef David Reardon.
A special video tribute of Kitchen Wisdom presented by Geoffrey Drummond, Child’s former TV director and producer, will provide a retrospective of television clips and celebrity guest interviews that pay homage to the beloved godmother of cooking.
The weekend also includes 15 different events. Among them are wine and chocolate tasting, a screening of the film, Le Chef; artisan bread baking with Bob Oswaks of Bob’s Well Bread in Los Alamos; a tour of the Good Land Organics coffee farm in Goleta; an olive oil cooking class with Theodora Stephan, founder of Global Gardens in Los Alamos; tasting from chefs, restaurants and wineries from throughout Santa Barbara County; a barbecue with Frank Ostini of The Hitching Post II in Buellton; and cooking techniques instruction from pastry chef Elizabeth Colling.
A highly anticipated event will be the panel discussion moderated by Todd Schulkin, executive director of the Julia Child Foundation. A seasoned marketing executive, Schulkin will introduce top industry authors such as Martha Hopkins, Dianne Jacob, Russ Parsons and Denise Vivaldo, who will discuss the ins and outs of food writing and publishing.
Other adventures will include a virtual tour at the hotel of the county’s most talked about, cutting-edge culinary neighborhoods in Los Alamos; Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone; Milpas Street, home to La Super-Rica Taqueria, the Mexican eatery Child helped make famous; and Old Town Goleta.
“The idea for the weekend was to try to create an event where we could raise some money for Julia’s foundation and to continue to educate and move food forward,” said Kathleen Cochran, Bacara general manager.
Proceeds benefit the foundation’s work to better understand where food comes from, what makes for good food and the value of cooking.
As Child herself said, “Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun.”