A longtime Santa Barbara restaurateur wants to set up the next generation of chefs and restaurant owners.
Mitchell Sjerven, co-owner of Wine Cask and Bouchon, has set up a scholarship and internship program in conjunction with Santa Barbara City College’s culinary arts program, a move he hopes will inspire other restaurant owners to do the same.
The American Riviera Scholarships handed out its first awards to two students this year. The recipients were Travis Brock, who received the Wine Cask American Riviera Scholarship, and Deya Jacobs, who received the Bouchon American Riviera Scholarship. Brock and Jacobs were each awarded $2,500 to help fund their studies, as well as an opportunity for a paid internship at the respective restaurants.
“The [culinary arts] program has really taken a turn for the positive in recent years,” Sjerven said. The faculty includes many others like himself who have owned or worked in restaurants and who are committed to bringing up the next generation of chefs and restaurant owners, he said.
Sjerven is an instructor in the culinary arts program at the college, teaching its restaurant ownership and management course. He said he wanted to give up his teaching salary but that college rules don’t allow that. Instead, he was able to give back to the school by offering the scholarships and internship opportunities to outstanding students.
Sjerven said Santa Barbara City College’s highly regarded culinary arts program combines a chef’s education with business and management skills. During their two years in the program, students learn everything from knife-handling techniques to industrial kitchen hygiene to controlling food costs and owning, managing and marketing a restaurant.
Sjerven said that as the caliber of the program has improved over the last decade, so has the quality of the employees available to area kitchens. Some of the students who’ve gone on to start some of the city’s most successful restaurants — including French favorite Julienne Restaurant — went through the program.
Sjerven said the dining industry is one of those businesses where competition between individual restaurants is outweighed by the idea of making a region a food and wine destination for travels. “My hope is that other restaurants in Santa Barbara will see the benefits of [a scholarship program]. If we had 20 or 25 restaurants doing this … it could be a huge draw for students to the campus and for people to the Santa Barbara area.”
Food truck rules postponed
The Oxnard Planning Commission has decided to take another two months to hash out new regulations for food trucks in the city, the Ventura County Star reported. The proposal before the commissioners would have placed restrictions on where the trucks could operate and during which hours, including not allowing them into residential areas or within 900 feet of schools, day care centers or parks. The commissioners voted to table the matter until mid-August.
• TEN AND TWO: Ten years after starting up in Ventura, Café Fiore is expanding with a location in Woodland Hills. Owner Saverio Posarelli is also the executive chef in Ventura. The restaurant was started in 2002 by first-generation Americans Anna and Maria Fiore.
• GOLDEN BREW: Island Brewing in Carpinteria has won a number of accolades from this year’s California State Fair and Los Angeles County International Beer Competition. Its limited-release bourbon-barrel-aged IPA took home a gold award at the L.A. County competition. It also got gold for its jubilee and nut brown ale. Its Starry Night Stout received silver. At the California State Fair, the Starry Night Stout took the first-place gold medal while the jubilee earned the third-place silver medal.
• NOTHING WASTED: The Albertsons supermarket in Carpinteria has joined the Albertsons in Ventura and Camarillo along with a number of area restaurants in a pilot program offered by Harrison Industries and green waste company Agromin. The program allows the stores and restaurants to divert food scraps including meat and dairy from landfills.
Most of the local restaurants in the program are in Ventura Harbor Village. They are: Andria’s Seafood, Brophy Bros., The Greek, Milano Italian, Spinnaker Seafood, Christy’s Café, Le Petit Café, Margarita Villa, Harbor Sushi, Black Beard’s Barbecue and Surf-N-Taco. The Wood Ranch restaurant in Ventura is also in the program, as is the Ventura Beach Marriott and the Crowne Plaza Ventura.
• HOT BIRTHDAY: Often, simple is better, as the case of Hot Dog On A Stick proves. The Santa Maria Town Center location of the chain celebrates its 36th anniversary this month. The fast-casual location serves American favorites including its signature hotdog in cornbread batter on a stick and fresh-squeezed lemonade. The Santa Maria Hot Dog On A Stick originally opened its doors on July 1, 1976. It is the seventh-oldest of 98 stores within the company.
• BUSY BROTHERS: Matt and Jeff Nichols have acquired the Red Barn Steak House at 3539 Sagunto St. in Santa Ynez for their next venture. The brothers and chefs are the former longtime owners of Brothers Restaurant at Mattei’s Tavern, which they closed last year as the hotel project at the Los Olivos property takes shape.
They opened their new restaurant, Sides Hardware & Shoes, a Brothers Restaurant, in Los Olivos earlier this year. The Nichols brothers are currently remodeling the Red Barn location and anticipate an early fall opening for that restaurant. “We’ve had our eye on this space for some time as an ideal location for us,” Matt Nichols said in a statement.
• Contact restaurant columnist Marlize van Romburgh at firstname.lastname@example.org.