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Hospice of Santa Barbara Dishes Out Bouillabaisse in Celebration of Life

Restaurants compete with seafood soup for fundraiser at Brander Vineyard

Supporters of Hospice of Santa Barbara gathered at The Brander Vineyard in Los Olivos for the revival of a popular fundraiser, the 13th Santa Barbara Bouillabaisse Festival.

A sold-out crowd eagerly gathered for a wonderful day of music, food and wine with a cultivation of hope and a celebration of life and remembrance for loved ones.

“Today’s special because we haven’t had a Bouillabaisse Festival in six years,” said Steve Jacobsen, executive director Hospice of Santa Barbara. “The Brander Vineyard asked us again to be their partner and the recipient.

“It’s a beautiful day. It’s the best of Santa Barbara, seafood, beautiful sky and vineyards. All for a great cause of serving people all across the county who need our help.”

Excited guests were greeted upon entry with molded plastic plates to hold a wine glass and sections to hold the rows of flavorful food offered under white tents in the main cooking areas.

A friendly competition among local restaurants served up unique varieties of bouillabaisse, a seafood soup that hit the spot on a warm summer afternoon.

“It’s probably the only competition I know on the Central Coast where you really take several restaurants and they compete to make the best of some type of food,” said Fred Brander, Brander Vineyards owner and winemaker. “So it’s a real nice competition and exhibition of some of the best local seafood.”

Guests also received a ballot to help the event judges choose the winners of the people’s choice awards for best restaurant and best table presentation. Other prize-winning categories included an open, cioppino, classic bouillabaisse and judge’s best of show.

Votes were gathered from nine judges, including acclaimed restaurateur Philippe Sautot; Edible Santa Barbara editor and publisher Krista Harris and TravelZoo’s Gabe Saglie.

Meanwhile, 16 restaurants faced off in the friendly competition, represented by the likes of Birnam Wood Golf Club, Blush, Ca’Dario, Marmalade Café, Sly’s and the Valley Club.

Music from headliner Spencer the Gardener filled the grounds of one of the oldest vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley with festive sounds that kept the crowd buzzing with excitement.

As the warm midday sun stretched across the scenic grounds, emcee Sonja Magdevski of Casa Dumetz welcomed guests and offered special thanks to Hospice of Santa Barbara’s supporters, staff and volunteers.

With the food settling, some visitors strolled across the beautifully landscaped grounds, soaking in the 40-acre vineyard’s vista views. But some guests just couldn’t get enough of a good thing and returned for seconds and even third helpings of the delicious food.

Other supporters stayed within the vine-covered walls of an enclosed square with four shade trees and decorative tables laden with fresh sunflowers to review and bid on an array of silent auctions items. Bidders were enthusiastic for a variety of options from donors like El Capitan Canyon Ranch, The Granada Theatre, Lotusland, Music Academy of the West, SurfMedia, Santa Barbara Historical Museum and Ensemble Theatre.

Later, the winners were announced for both people’s choice and judge’s prizes with first place for Classic Bouillabaisse going to Arlington Tavern and chef Ron True. First place for Cioppino went to Arch Rock Fish and chef Scott Leibfried, who also received Best of Show. In the open category, first place was awarded to the Willows and chef Sergio Renteria. And, the people’s choice award went to chef Budi Kazali of the Ballard Inn. Finally, best table presentation was awarded to Rosa’s Ristorante and chef Doug MacMillan.

Established in 1974, by Alice Heath and the Altrusa Club with local citizens, the bereavement organization partnered with the Santa Barbara Visiting Nurse Association in 1990 to provide hospice services for the community.

Hospice of Santa Barbara is a volunteer organization that specializes in providing spiritual, social and emotional needs for the terminally ill while supporting children and families with grief counseling, trained volunteers, support groups and a wide array of community education programs.

“A lot of our newest work is in an area with kids,” Jacobsen said. “We’ve almost tripled the amount of kids we’ve served in the last three years and we’re serving about 150 kids per month now in the children and family services. And any child or teenager who’s lost a brother, sister, mother, dad, comes to us for help. We’re also on six high school campuses per week to do support for kids who’ve lost somebody they love.”

All services are free of charge, and Hospice of Santa Barbara works closely with home health agencies, certified hospice programs and private agencies to meet the nursing needs of patients serving 500 people monthly.

“The organization is special because it does the hard work of grief,” said Hospice of Santa Barbara board president Jackie Marston. “They’re the specialist. I’ve always said the irony of Hospice of Santa Barbara is that you get the best grief counseling available for nothing. It’s all done for free. There’s no government subsidies. There’s only the community that supports what it does.

“And grief is the thing that’s hard to talk about. It’s the thing you don’t talk about a lot but it’s huge in helping people go on with their lives.”

Click here for more information about Hospice of Santa Barbara, or call 805.563.8820. Click here to make an online donation. Connect with Hospice of Santa Barbara on Facebook. Follow Hospice of Santa Barbara on Twitter: @HospiceofSB.

Hospice of Santa Barbara would like to thank the following sponsors for their generosity:

American Riviera Bank, Classic Party Rentals, College Applied Human Services, Home Improvement Center, IOA Insurance Services, KEYT-3, MarBorg Industries, Montecito Bank & Trust, O Malley’s, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Travel Bureau and Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

Special thanks to:

Mak Events, Our Daily Bread, Rancho Olivos, SurfMedia, The Berry Man, Via Maestra 42 and Well Bread.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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