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UCSB Arts & Lectures Cooks Up an Evening with Celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain

An intimate crowd savors dinner created by local chefs before devouring practical advice and other morsels dished out by the renowned raconteur


UCSB Arts & Lectures presented its 2018 benefit event, a special night with renowned food personality and internationally acclaimed raconteur Anthony Bourdain, on May 9 in the outdoor courtyards of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

A pleasant evening of stories and a Q&A with the well-known food personality, journalist, author and television celebrity was enjoyed by an intimate crowd who counted themselves lucky to see this firepower in person. Bourdain is best known for his Emmy Award-winning television show, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, and as the bestselling author of Kitchen Confidential.

Bourdain shared a couple of gems of practical advice with the audience based on his destinations in 100 airports every year: “Avoid Western food, don’t drink in Russia, stay hydrated, and don’t order ice or mixers.” Describing his TV series, he said, “My show has morphed. People tell me stuff they don’t tell hard news. I just ask them simple questions. I eat what they serve and respect local customs.”

The Peabody Award aptly described the evening’s celeb: “Bourdain first made his name as a chef but seems obsessed with discovering new taste sensations. Wherever his appetite takes him, it’s the side-dish stories that make his visits so memorable and nourishing. Apart from his knowledge of food and cooking, he’s comfortable with himself and with other people. He’s irreverent, honest, curious and never condescending.”

Before Bourdain’s 7 p.m. arrival fresh from a filming in Bali, more than 200 guests savored the evening’s dinner, which was created by local executive chefs Peter Lee of Loquita, Jason Paluska of The Lark and Weston Richards of Les Marchands.

The locavore element featured cocktails by local mixologists, wine from premium local vintners, and ingredients from Central Coast Creamery, Earthtrine Farms, Ellwood Canyon Farms, Good Land Organics, Plow to Porch, Santa Barbara Mariculture, Sea Stephanie FishThe Cultured Abalone Farm and other local purveyors.

Making the evening possible were “Executive Chef” level sponsors Sara Miller McCune, Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin. In addition, “Chef de Cuisine” sponsors included Meg and Dan Burnham, Marcy Carsey, Audrey and Timothy Fisher, Kath Lavidge and Ed McKinley, Susan and Craig McCaw, Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree, and Susan and Bruce Worster.

Top sponsor Sara Miller McCune, right, with her good friend Nancy Brown.
Top sponsor Sara Miller McCune, right, with her good friend Nancy Brown. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

A&L Miller McCune Executive Director Celesta Billeci acknowledged all of the donors and purveyors who supported the fundraiser.

UCSB Arts & Lectures acknowledged the generous support of SAGE Publishing for its major corporate support of the 2017-18 season.

“The evening was made possible by many people, but especially to Sherry Villanueva, A&L ambassador and founder and managing partner of Acme Hospitality, for her vision to make this event possible,” sponsor McCune told Noozhawk. “Kudos to executive chef Jason Paluska and The Lark restaurant, which closed for the evening so the chef and staff could present this wonderful dinner.”

The menu included a locally sourced Ellwood Canyon spring garden salad that included carrots, sugar snap peas and candy cane beets. Entrée choices included slow-cooked lamp ribs, roasted sea bass, and Vadouvan spiced farro and grilled sunburst squash. Rounding out the gourmet meal was Kaffir lime leaf panna cotta and chocolates by Jessica Foster.

Volunteer Dan Burnham did double duty as a sponsor and auctioneer who ably sold off five private group dinners prepared by five of the area’s top chefs. The bids were high, with dinners going for $15,000, $17,000, $12,000, $24,000 and $17,000.

The generous live auction donors included chefs Gary Singh from Bibi Ji, Paluska from The Lark, Johan Denizot for Belmond El Encanto, Justin West of Wildwood Kitchen and Greg Murphy from Bouchon.

Founded in 1959, UCSB Arts & Lectures annually presents more than 100 events, from critically acclaimed concerts and dance performances by world-renowned artists to talks by groundbreaking authors and film series at UCSB and Santa Barbara-area venues.

The Bourdain event proceeds will benefit educational outreach programs that serve more than 30,000 community members annually.

Click here for more information, or contact UCSB publicist Caitlin O’Hara at 805.893.3494 or [email protected].

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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