Despite the threat of rain and muggy weather, the 36th annual Taste of the Town Santa Barbara weekend scored a hit with area wine and food aficionados.
The event was a benefit for the Arthritis Foundation of Santa Barbara.
“Executive Director Michal W. Wiesbrock has assured me that our monetary goal of $180,000 has already been met, and that funds are still being tallied,” said Laura Kath, media volunteer for the Arthritis Foundation, on Monday.
The event featured the eighth annual Connoisseurs’ Circle Gala Dinner Friday at the Bacara Resort & Spa, which offered a four-course gourmet meal prepared by the 2017 Honorary Lead Chef, Mark Strausman from Freds at Barneys, New York, as well as a food and wine tasting Sunday afternoon at Riviera Park on Alameda Padre Serra.
Both the dinner and tasting also included silent auctions.
Strausman paired his dinner Friday with wines from the weekend’s Honorary Vintner, Doug Margerum of Margerum Wine Company of Buellton.
New York-based Strausman has owned some of that city’s most high profile restaurants during his lengthy career: Coco Pazzo, Campagna and Sapore di Mare.
As managing director for Freds at Barney’s, he helped to develop the Madison Avenue flagship store, which The New York Times calls one of the city’s power dining rooms.
Strausman has created offshoots of Freds in Los Angeles, Chicago and Scottsdale, with more locations planned.
I caught up with Margerum and his wife, Marni, Sunday afternoon at Riviera Park, where tents with chairs and tables surrounding a reflecting pool. Food, wine and beer purveyors were lined up under a walkway, where the air was slightly cooler.
The guests nibbled on various tasty bites from restaurants located throughout the county, from Buellton’s powerhouse Industrial Eats to the soon-to-open Crush, which its owner, Michael Amador, said would open later this fall on East Haley Street in Santa Barbara.
Amador kept cooking a steady supply of bite-sized pulled pork and fontina cheese sandwiches, which were a hit with the crowd.
Doug Margerum said he was “super happy” with the event, which “raised a ton of money” for the Arthritis Foundation of Santa Barbara.
Among the many vintners pouring wine Sunday were Alma Rosa, Brander, Cebada, Falcone, Grassini, Larner, Loring, Mosby, Pali, Presqu’ile and Sanford.
Besides Margerum and Strausman, other honorees for the weekend were Youth Honoree Lilly Trautwein, age 7, a Santa Barbara resident and juvenile arthritis victor, and Dr. James Zmolek, an orthopedic surgeon at Sansum Clinic and Cottage Center for Orthopedics.
Lilly, a resident of Santa Barbara, began experiencing arthritis pain in a knee when she was just 2 years old. Her parents, Dr. Eric Trautwein and Dr. Rachel Trautwein, considered possible diagnoses and monitored Lilly’s health.
When the pain grew so bad that she could barely walk, Lilly was taken to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, where she was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Initial treatments included cortisone injections into her knee. When more joints and her eyes became affected, her parents knew a more systemic approach was key, and began working with Dr. Miriam Parsa, a pediatric rheumatologist with Cottage Health in Santa Barbara.
Now, Lilly’s arthritis is controlled with weekly injections of a specialized medicine, and she is an active youngster. She enjoys soccer and basketball, and can run and climb like other children her age.
Lilly breaks the stereotypical belief that only adults can develop arthritis, but in reality, some 300,000 American children have the diagnosis, according to the Foundation.
Medical Honoree Dr. Zmolek, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, has been with Sansum Clinic of Santa Barbara since 1990, and is affiliated with Cottage Health.
He graduated from UCLA Medical School, and during his fellowship he specialized surgical arthritis and reconstruction at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center.
Dr. Zee (as he is known) has served as an advisor to the Arthritis Foundation for a number of years.
A long-time Santa Barbara resident, Dr. Zmolek and his wife, Julie, have two adult sons. He is an avid golfer and as part of his volunteer community outreach, hosts Putt with a Doctor through Cottage Center for Orthopedics.
All proceeds from the Taste of the Town Santa Barbara events will support the Arthritis Foundation’s programs and services.
The Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of 53 million people — including nearly 300,000 children — who battle arthritis. It is the sole nonprofit dedicated to the task via health education, advocacy and research, organizers say.
More than 50,000 Santa Barbara County residents and children have been diagnosed with one of the 100-plus forms of arthritis — and look for help and hope from the organization.
— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are her own.