Shaking up the culinary scene in the Funk Zone, Hotel Californian announces the appointment of a new culinary team. Executive Chef Travis Watson, joined by Chef de Cuisine Paul Osborne and Pastry Chef Ronald Viloria, will collaborate to create a fresh culinary experience at Blackbird. The signature restaurant will relaunch in Fall 2019 as Bar Blackbird, an upscale bar-first concept, featuring a cocktail program from Houston Hospitality veteran Devon Espinosa and celebrating the intersection of food and beverage on our Central Coast. The team will also infuse new culinary inspiration throughout the resort, including breakfast, lunch and dinner al-fresco at Goat Tree; the Djinn library bar; Tan-Tan rooftop pool deck; and the banquets and in-room dining programs.

Travis Watson brings 20 years of award-winning culinary experience to the South Coast and will lead the team to construct modern, seasonal cuisine that elevates all facets of the Hotel Californian culinary program. Watson’s career has led him all over the world, including France where he served as an apprentice to Chef Georges Paccard of Michelin-starred La Ciboulette. He most recently served as Executive Chef at Rancho Bernardo Inn & Spa in San Diego and is thrilled to tap into the distinctive terroir of the Central Coast.

As Chef de Cuisine, Paul Osborne will create new menu concepts and oversee food and beverage operations across all Hotel Californian culinary outlets. A Santa Barbara native, Osborne honed his skills in Bordeaux, France, and is eager to leave his imprint on the South Coast’s food scene. Osborne most recently comes from the Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito, Calif., where he served as Chef de Cuisine managing operations for Caruso’s, its flagship restaurant.

In his role as Pastry Chef, Ronald Viloria will lead the Hotel Californian pastry team to create exceptional baked goods and confections from scratch each day. Most recently serving as Executive Pastry Chef at Viceroy Snowmass in Aspen, Viloria brings more than 25 years of experience to the American Riviera and a specialization in traditional and modern European-inspired indulgences with imaginative twists – including some of the finest croissants outside of Paris. Viloria, a seasoned Level 2 sommelier, is also eager to collaborate with the team to enhance its expansive list of exclusive Central Coast wines.

“We are thrilled to welcome this trio of culinary thought-leaders to our award-winning Hotel Californian team,” said Warren Nocon, General Manager, Hotel Californian. “We are excited for them to unleash their endless passion and creativity to create inspiring new culinary experiences that resonate with our guests and the Santa Barbara community.”

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  1. Richard says:

    Interesting news because the menu has been basically the same since “Day 1” and became pretty boring after the second and third visits; plus the wine list was heavy with big reds the times we dined there, yet the menu is mostly fish and chicken.
    I wonder if it will A) Stay the same until the “new concept” opens in the fall, B) If it will stay open through the actual transition and C) If the new wine director will add more interesting and varied imports. Unfortunately I don’t think we can expect the latter, as from The Californian website ” Viloria, a seasoned Level 2 sommelier, is also eager to collaborate with the team to enhance its expansive list of exclusive Central Coast wines.” That would be a shame, as I get tired of drinking the big, jammy, 15% alcohol Central Coast wines seen everywhere else in town, especially with cuisine that’s delicate like Blackbird.

    • Ken Dunkley says:

      Hi Richard,
      I think Central Coast wines are far more diverse than your characterization as ‘big, jammy, 15% alcohol’. Local winemakers are working hard to bring us the best from our special SYV terroir.
      Although, I agree there are many wonderful wines made around the world and we deserve to enjoy different grapes, terroir and techniques.
      Ken Dunkley, Seawind Wines [retired]

  2. Jason says:

    Been in a couple of times and found them very hostile to locals. Not surprising that they are relaunching.

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