Santa Barbara Wine is FINE

LA / SF = Santa Barbara.  Gorgeous coastline, warm and friendly people smack dab in the middle of wine country.

I spent last weekend nestled in the bosom of California’s fastest growing wine making hotbed, sampling tremendous wines, delicious food and free cookies – ’cause we were staying at the legendary Fess Parker Resort… which is now a Hilton Doubletree. Doubletree Hotels = cookies on demand.

* insider tip: Even if you’re not registered at a Doubletree hotel, if you walk in and ask for a cookie, they are instructed to give you one. Probably because those gooey delights are so incredible, they know that eventually you’ll stay with them.  Seriously, if you like chocolate chip cookies, do it. Walk into a Doubletree hotel in your town and ask for a cookie. In seconds, your grubby little mitts will be graced with the brown paper envelope containing heaven. With nuts.

The Santa Barbara Wine Festival has been thriving for more than a decade, but this was my first visit.  The event is staged at Palm park right off the beach in downtown Santa Barbara. 300 high-end wines were poured, 30 food booths dished their premiere dishes, and one lonely Tequila booth provided all the paying patrons could eat and drink from 11am to 4pm.

This was the first time I performed my Comedy Cooking Contest at the SBWF – and happily the place was packed at 2:30 when I took the stage. Attendance was up 20% over last year. Which I’m sure is more about the $10,000 Yucatan Holidays Caribbean 8 day all inclusive vacation I was giving away than me and my glib patter.

But that did not deter me. I glibbed as best I could, pulling three patrons out of the audience by virtue of winning raffle tickets, and forcing them to make their best version of my Yucatan Guacamole recipe.  This time, each winner brought up a friend to help them cut, snip and moosh their ingredients.  The three teams worked tirelessly, under a hot sun, to mix up the most delicious guacamole they could… then stood by as the entire audience filed by to taste their offerings.

Each audience member voted for their favorite, and in the end, Patricia’s guacamole earned 2X the votes of the runner up.  She is going to the Caribbean!! Think she’s happy:

Later this summer, I’ll be at the Taste of St. Louis, the Hollywood San Gennaro Feast, the La Dolce Vita Festival in Laguna Nigel and Des Moines Iowa performing my show and bestowing similar all inclusive trips on more lucky, talented chefs around the country!

Keep tabs on my schedule at


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