The Ultimate Santa Barbara Culinary Experience

The late, great Julia Child had a soft spot for Santa Barbara, where she chose to spend the final chapter of her storied life. Of Santa Barbara, she once wrote, “The climate and the atmosphere recall the French Riviera between Marseille and Nice. Very often, being there on the Riviera where we used to have a little house I’d say…‘well I’d just as soon be in Santa Barbara.’”

As a young girl growing up in Pasadena, Julia’s family would summer in Santa Barbara—it was the place where her parents’ romance originally blossomed, long before Julia and her siblings came along. She had many fond memories of learning to swim in the city pool, glorious beach days, summer camps on the Mesa and family lunches at the Miramar. Throughout the course of her adult life, she would return to The American Riviera®, where she had many friends and always felt quite at home. In the 1980s, Julia and her husband Paul started wintering in Santa Barbara and became active members of the community. After his death in 2001, she left the East Coast and made Santa Barbara her retirement home.

As America’s original celebrity chef, Julia popularized French cooking with her wildly popular cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” She came to even greater fame as a television personality who made cooking fun and more approachable over the course of her nearly 40 years on air. Her refreshing no-nonsense directness, warmth and sense of humor endeared her to all who crossed her path, readers and home audiences included. Younger generations also had the good fortune of being introduced to her charms through the hit film Julie & Julia (2009) starring Meryl Streep as Julia.

Julia Child was especially beloved by her Santa Barbara community. Always quick to promote the local restaurants, winemakers and talented chefs she was impressed by, Julia became an unofficial ambassador for Santa Barbara whether she was being interviewed by press or showing famous friends around town. So, it’s a fitting tribute that the community continues to celebrate her legacy with the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience in partnership with the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.

Santa BarbarA Culinary Experience

Inspired by the spirit of Julia and her legacy of culinary education, the series of epicurean events takes place March 13-15, 2020. The thoughtfully curated program is designed to gather the community and visitors to celebrate the bounty of Santa Barbara’s local farms, ranches, vineyards and fisheries. Themed dinners, tasting events, educational panels, cocktail workshops, kids’ cooking classes, film screenings and hotel specials are on the action-packed menu—more than 40 events are taking place in just three-days time and it’s quite an impressive line-up. In addition to Santa Barbara chefs, mixologists, culinary artisans and restaurateurs, nationally renowned food and beverage talents will be making special appearances. Think big names like Chris Bianco, Suzanne Goin, Ludo Lefebvre, Nancy Silverton and many more.

How to get tickets

Participants can get in on the action à la carte through single event tickets (starting as low as $15) or go all-in with Platinum Pass packages ($995 per person). Tickets go on sale January 21, 2020 and can be purchased here. Proceeds benefit The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, a nonprofit organization that makes grants to support research in culinary history, scholarships for professional culinary training, food writing and media, as well as professional development and food literacy programs.

Places to Stay

Looking for a place to stay? Fifteen hotels are offering packages and extending special rates for event attendees. Participating properties range from budget-friendly inns and hip hotels to luxury resorts.

Need more itinerary inspiration to enhance your weekend? Check out our collection of Food & Drink itineraries and articles for insights on the best new restaurants, top coffee shops, healthy eats and more.

La Super Rica Taqueria Photo Credit: Caroline Juen

The Julia Child Map

Julia Child fans can celebrate her legacy any time of year thanks to the new Julia Child Map, released in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience. The map features Julia’s go-to local dining spots, like La Super-Rica Taqueria, a humble Mexican taqueria she regularly raved about. She also praised longtime local staple, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, a homegrown brand that’s expanded significantly over the past decade. And she knew Hitching Post 2 was destined for stardom long before Sideways was released. From classic institutions like Lucky’s and Santa Barbara Shellfish Company to the less expected like Costco (yes, you read that right!) and In-N-Out Burger, the map reveals that Julia savored all kinds of culinary experiences.

In signature Julia fashion, we wish you bon appetit!