[Noozhawk’s note: Chef Joe Hafner is now writing a weekly food column for Noozhawk. Click here for a related article.]

Hello and welcome to Word of Mouth.

My name is Joe Hafner, and I am happy to be joining Noozhawk as a food columnist.

My partner, Jessica, and I moved to Santa Barbara in 2012, after years in Rhode Island where I studied at Johnson & Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts.

For over 10 years, I’ve run fine-dining restaurant kitchens in Newport and Providence. Now I cook privately here while Jessica works in the wine industry as she pursues a winemaking degree.

Word of Mouth will be a forum for interesting food and drink news, local flavor, food policies and opinion.

I’m not going to write reviews, although I will be doing profiles of restaurants and chefs in our area. I’ll be giving you a slice of what is here, what people are eating and talking about, and some great recipes, too.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to explore Santa Barbara County and share my experiences with you!

I will keep an ear to the ground on our fantastic Santa Barbara County food scene. Please send any thoughts or questions for Word of Mouth to jhafner@noozhawk.com.

Thank you to Noozhawk reporter Lara Cooper for this profile of me.

See you next week!

— Chef Joe Hafner writes the weekly Noozhawk column Word of Mouth and can be reached at jhafner@noozhawk.com. Click here for additional columns. The opinions expressed are his own.