SOURCE: CANDICE TANG NYHOLT FOR THE FOODBANK OF SANTA BARBARACOUNTY
Chicago, New York City and San Francisco are world-class dining destinations, but each came up second best to Santa Barbara in a national contest hosted by the James Beard Foundation.
The Local Dish Challenge showcases restaurants around the country competing for the “Best Dish.” Julienne was the only restaurant represented in Santa Barbara, compared to Chicago with 11 restaurants that came in second. Even 15 restaurants competing in New York City were not enough to match the Julienne Bouillabaisse Dish and the outpouring of community support. Diners voted by taking a photo of the restaurant’s featured dish and Instagramming the photo with the appropriate hashtags.
Julienne chose the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County as the nonprofit partner, and the contest win means a $10,000.00 donation.
“With this donation we can serve over 80,000 meals, which is so very important during the holiday season,” said Misha Karbelnig, development coordinator at the Foodbank.
Husband and wife team Justin and Emma West founded Julienne in 2008 and now open their 40-seat restaurant six days a week to the Santa Barbara community.
“This win is for the staff that worked so hard, the people that came in and voted, and of course the Foodbank. It is so rewarding to raise money by doing what we love,” said Justin West, head chef at Julienne, adding that the fact that Julienne was the only restaurant represented in Santa Barbara and found a way to win against much larger cities is a testament to the community.
“It’s really a David and Goliath story,” Karbelnig said.
The collaboration between the Foodbank and Julienne came through another fundraiser, when Jacques Habra, entrepreneur and manager of the Noospheric Quantified Fund, hosted an open house to benefit the Foodbank earlier this year.
“For a long while now, Justin and I have been exploring ways to work together,” Habra said.
Julienne donated its signature charcuterie plate for the Noospheric open house fundraiser, which led to the planning of a special fundraiser dinner at Julienne and the James Beard Foundation Taste Challenge. The trio of Habra, West and Karbelnig knew it wasn’t going to be easy to beat out very well-populated metropolitan cities represented by 10-plus restaurants.
“I like being the underdog,” West said.
Habra added: “This is what makes Santa Barbara so special — it is a very connected community that comes together to help those in need. This was a complete community effort, from the marketing support of First Click and SurfMedia Communciations to the hardworking staff at Julienne to the 192 diners who responded and voted.”
Jane Lindsey, development director at the Foodbank, agreed: “This was certainly no small task — thanks to the team for supporting our work to build a healthy community.”
“We are grateful to Julienne and to our entire community for their dedication to help solve hunger and food insecurity through their support of Foodbank,” said Erik Talkin, CEO of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. “Julienne’s farm to table philosophy is something Foodbank can stand behind. It aligns with our goal to bring real food back to the forefront of the conversation and on our tables.”
There are already plans for more fundraising, including a holiday canned food drive challenge that Chef Justin has envisioned. For now, Santa Barbara should feel really good about having the “Best Dish” in America and raising $10,000 for the Foodbank.
— Candice Tang Nyholt is a publicist representing the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.