The James Beard Foundation put up $10,000 as prize money in their “Taste America Challenge” that ran from September 1, 2013 to October 31, 2013. Participating restaurants throughout the country were asked to come up with a dish that best reflects their local food scene as well as select a local charity to compete for. Julienne restaurant at 138 E. Canon Perdido Street represented Santa Barbara and won first place, securing $10,000 for the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County.
Run entirely through Instagram, this contest asked diners to show their support by dining at participating restaurants taking pictures of their meals and uploading them with the hash tags #JBFTasteAmerica followed by a hash tag of their city. At the end of the two months the city with the most uploads and hash tags wins.
Julienne was Santa Barbara’s only participating restaurant and held a second place spot on the vote sheet for the most of the 8 weeks, trailing only to Chicago (who had 11 restaurants competing for #Chicago). At times Julienne trailed by as little as 7 votes and at other times by as many as 32 votes. With three days to go in the competition Julienne needed 15 votes to over take Chicago. They got 40 and finished in first place securing a $10,000 donation for the Food Bank of Santa Barbara County. $1 from every Bouillabaisse sold during this competition was also donated to the James Beard Foundation to fun their educational programs.
“When the competition first started we didn’t think that there was any chance we would be able to compete with the restaurants in the big city markets”, says Chef West, “we only have 40 seats and Santa Barbara doesn’t have the diner volume that a big city has. There was nights that we only served 5 Bouillabaisse. We just made sure we got them all to vote. That was the goal every night… get a vote from every Bouillabaisse that goes out.”