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Thursday, February 26, 2009 

Toyota Venza "Taste of the Market" - March 14

The Toyota Venza Taste of the Market event series comes to Santa Barbara for a single-day event in California at the Farmers Market on Saturday, March 14, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Toyota Venza created this "Taste of the Market" series to celebrate farmers markets in communities across the United States.

Local chefs and farmers will be paired together for a day to highlight our area's fresh, seasonal and varied offerings. The chefs will prepare special tastings showcasing their partner farm’s fresh ingredients, and you will have the opportunity to sample the culinary creations. Toyota Venza is also making a financial donation to the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association.

“There is nothing better than being able to go to the farmers market and hand select heads of lettuce, beets, turnips, whatever I’m looking for,” says Justin West, chef/owner of Julienne. “Handpicking ingredients ensures that the creative vision I have for a menu item shows up on the plate for my guests, and that’s key.”

In addition to the free tastings, you can sign up to receive a month-by-month Taste of the Market Guide to Eating Seasonally in Santa Barbara and will also be invited to pick up complimentary potted herb plant starts at the Mobile Garden Venza. To top off the day, you can enter for a chance to win a unique culinary prize. Toyota will also provide interested market goers with the opportunity to take a ride in a 2009 Venza and take home a John Boos cutting board as a thank you gift.

The Participating Chefs -

Justin West of Julienne Restaurant. Opened in August of 2008, this American Bistro serves local, seasonal cuisine. West’s focus is to create simple, clean flavors using the freshest possible ingredients. His philosophy lends to a seasonal menu that changes regularly and allows him to showcase what’s available at the farmers market. At Julienne, the hope is to promote the idea of eating locally, which goes hand-in-hand with eating seasonally. For more information, visit

Brandon Hughes of Bouchon. Bouchon is about having an authentic fine dining, wine county experience. Hughes sources ingredients using an “as fresh and as local as possible” approach, with fish from the Santa Barbara Channel, produce from the surrounding countryside, and meats and poultry from local micro-ranches. The wine list showcases the spectacular wines of the region. For more information, visit http://www.bouchonsantabarbara.com/

Bob and Ellie Patterson of Scoop. Since opening Here’s the Scoop almost five years ago, Bob and Ellie Patterson have worked closely with the farmers market to source the highest quality products to use in their gelatos and sorbets. Everything is made daily in-house and sorbets follow the season using fruits and herbs from the local farmers market. One of the most popular sorbets, blood orange, is available through mid-March. For more information, call (805) 969-7020.

Serafin Ruizo of Blue Agave. Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Serafin Ruiz has been chef of Blue Agave for over 13 years. Blue Agave features an inventive menu that owner Gabi Barusch-Crosbie describes as “Continental Drift.” Using the finest ingredients from local farms practicing organic sustainable methods, natural free range meats, and fresh seafood, Ruiz creates dishes inspired by the flavors found in the Mediterranean, American Southwest, Mexico, and Pacific Rim. Blue Agave offers over 40 Tequilas and Mescals, and margaritas are made to order with 100% Blue Agave Tequila and fresh squeezed lime juice. For more information, visit http://www.blueagavesb.com/

Greg Murphy of Seagrass. Seagrass provides a Santa Barbara Coastal Cuisine fine dining experience for guests, and has a wine list that highlights local gems. Murphy is dedicated to procuring the highest quality ingredients available, using seafood, fish, and shellfish from the Pacific Ocean, and working closely with the farmers market to ensure all produce is of the highest quality, and is local and organic whenever possible. For more information, visit http://www.seagrassrestaurant.com/.

Matthew Reddy of Elements Restaurant and Bar. This much loved Santa Barbara restaurant is known for excellent world fusion cuisine, a stunning outdoor terrace, a lively happy hour crowd, signature martinis, and an award-winning wine list. For more information, visit http://www.elementsrestaurantandbar.com/.

Nat Ely of Los Olivos Cafe. Los Olivos Cafe is located in the picturesque Santa Ynez Valley and is known for serving creative California-Mediterranean style cuisine, having an excellent selection of local wines, and a little movie called Sideways. The warmth of the wisteria-covered patio welcomes guests, and the connection between great wine and impeccable food—handcrafted expertly by Ely from the freshest seasonal ingredients—keep guests coming back. For more information, visit http://www.losolivoscafe.com/.

John Downey of Downey’s. Opened in 1982 and located in the heart of Santa Barbara, the concept is simple—serve the best food available in an inviting setting. Downey changes the menu constantly, showcasing the abundance of local and fresh product available. Downey’s continues to receive enormous local and national acclaim. For more information, visit. http://www.downeyssb.com/.

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