Famed French chef Julia Child loved — and was beloved by — her Santa Barbara community.

She became an unofficial ambassador for the city, promoting its chefs and winemakers. In a tribute to Child, the community will once again celebrate her legacy with the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience in partnership with the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.

Postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and limited in 2021, the event returns in person with multiple events at various Santa Barbara venues May 16-22.

To coincide with the SBCE will be Santa Barbara’s Restaurant Week, special film screenings, cooking classes, wine and food pairings, and much more.

Click here for a full schedule of events.

At 7 p.m. May 20, Oscar-nominated directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen will host a screening of the “Julia” documentary at the Garvin Theatre on the Santa Barbara City College campus.

Legendary chef Julia Child is the inspiration behind this month’s Santa Barbara culinary event.

Legendary chef Julia Child is the inspiration behind this month’s Santa Barbara culinary event. (Courtesy photo)

The screening will be followed by a Q&A session hosted by Todd Schulkin, executive director of the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts and host of the “Inside Julia’s Kitchen” podcast.

Directors Cohen and West are well-known for documenting the lives of trailblazing women, like their Oscar-nominated film “RBG.”

The Taste of Santa Barbara will occur over several days and focus on the city’s restaurants and wineries with a spotlight on 10 of the county’s dining destinations.

All participating restaurants will offer fixed price menus at $30, $40 or $50. A list of participating eateries can be found by clicking here.

From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. May 21, a panel discussion titled “Rebuilding Our Food System” will take place at the Garvin Theatre. Guests are invited to learn from local, national and global leaders tackling the most pressing food-related challenges about how place-based and community-led collective action can build a more sustainable, resilient food system in Santa Barbara and beyond.

Join Shakira Miracle, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network; U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal; Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank; and a panel of regional food system changemakers.

The panelists are Sarah Koyo, Chumash and Tohono O’odham; Šmuwič Songkeeper; Stefan Selbert, operations manager, Las Cumbres Ranch; Melissa Sorongon, owner/farmer, Piedrasassi Wine & Bread; and Jessica Vieira, senior director of Sustainability, Apeel Sciences.

From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. May 22, the Taste of Santa Barbara will take place at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. The event will feature interaction tastings and panels with 15 wineries across Santa Barbara County. Light nibbles also will be provided.

Owners of Santa Ynez Valley Restaurants to Be Feted at Burbank Fundraiser

The founders of two popular Santa Ynez Valley eateries will be honorary chairs for the CA Winemasters at its 33rd annual culinary extravaganza in Burbank.

Mike and Kathie Gordon, who now reside mostly in Santa Ynez, founded S.Y. Kitchen in Santa Ynez and, more recently, Nella Kitchen & Bar in Los Olivos. They are co-founders of Toscana in Brentwood, which opened its doors more than three decades ago.

The Gordons are being recognized for their 30-plus years in the California restaurant business and will be feted at the CA Winemasters’ annual fine wine and food event. The evening will benefit an organization close to the couple’s hearts, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Kathie and Mike Gordon, owners of S.Y. Kitchen and Nella Kitchen, will be honored this month by CA Winemasters at a Burbank event.

Kathie and Mike Gordon, owners of S.Y. Kitchen and Nella Kitchen, will be honored this month by CA Winemasters at a Burbank event. (Courtesy photo)

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. May 14 and will take place at Warner Bros. Studio, Gate 7, Forest Lawn Drive in Burbank. It will feature more than 50 international chefs, 75 of California’s wineries, and hundreds of silent and live auction items.

All chefs from the Toscana Restaurant Group will proffer some of their most popular specialties, as will longtime “family” member Roberto Facciolla, general manager and partner of Toscana and Bar Toscana.

Along with Facciolla, chefs participating include Michele Lisi, Nerano & BG Lounge; Luca Crestanelli, S.Y. Kitchen and Nella Kitchen & Bar; Justino Quirino, Bar Toscana; and Miquel Martinez, Toscana Brentwood.

In past years, the event has raised more than $34 million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, whose mission is to cure cystic fibrosis and provide all people living with the disease the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives by funding research and drug development and advancing specialized care.

In the mid-1980s, Mike Gordon received a birthday gift that changed his life: a day spent with the legendary Wolfgang Puck, who taught Gordon how to find the freshest ingredients at farmers markets and create recipes that took diners to the next level. Armed with a notepad and camera, the Gordons rented a villa in Greve in Chianti, Italy, and immersed themselves in the Tuscan lifestyle.

Upon returning to Los Angeles, Mike Gordon summoned the skills and connections he honed as an entertainment industry business manager, while Kathie Gordon, an award-winning writer and skilled landscape designer, immersed herself into the rigors of restaurant development at UCLA, and called on the stamina she gained as a marathon runner to lay down the groundwork necessary to bring their dream to fruition.

The Gordons partnered with their dear friend Doc Severinsen, and in 1989, Toscana opened on a corner in Brentwood where a pharmacy once stood.

Recognizing the importance of education and gap funding, Mike Gordon also co-founded the Gordon-Brown Fellowship. He partnered with educator Maynard Brown to form a nonprofit organization that provides Los Angeles inner-city graduating high school students with financial assistance for college, mentorships and internships.

— Laurie Jervis tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via winecountrywriter@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are her own.