Meet Our Publishers: Krista Harris of Edible Santa Barbara
We talked to Krista Harris, the publisher of edible Santa Barbara, about the food scene, her favorite edible Santa Barbara story, beekeeping, and more.
Before you started Edible Santa Barbara, what were you doing professionally?
My first job was working at a local newspaper in San Diego where I filed articles, helped out in the graphics department, answered phones, etc. As a film studies major in college, I gravitated toward working on the film department magazine, taking elective creative writing and art classes and then headed into a career in design and publishing. After 17 years as the creative director for a retirement investment firm, I was looking for something that could combine my career with my hobbies of cooking and writing about food.
What inspired you to start edible Santa Barbara?
As long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with cooking and food. I watched Julia Child with as much interest as I watched Sesame Street when I was five years old. When I moved from San Diego to Santa Barbara to go to college, I discovered the joys of shopping at the farmers market. Then in 2006 I read Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma and decided that I wanted to be more involved in the local food movement. I had heard of edible Ojai, but it wasn’t until a friend brought me a copy of edible Finger Lakes in 2008 that I realized that there were edible magazines all over. I started wondering why there wasn’t one in Santa Barbara. After doing a little bit of research, I figured out that this was exactly what I wanted to do. And our first issue came out in Spring 2009.
What do you think people would find most surprising about Santa Barbara's food culture?
Probably that there is one! The food scene is not like Northern California or Southern California or even a blend of the two. I think we have a unique food culture of our own that has been heavily influenced in recent years by the local wine industry. The most innovative chefs here don’t copy what is going on in Los Angeles or San Francisco. They look to the local ridgeback shrimp, uni, and the beautiful produce at our farmers markets, and they create food that tastes right with the locally produced wines. People have long thought of Santa Barbara County as a destination, but now it’s coming into its own as a culinary destination.
Who is the most impressive person you have met in the Santa Barbara food scene?
Several years ago we were doing a photo shoot at a local farm called “The Garden Of…” with farmers Shu and Debby Takikawa and Noey Turk. I frequently bought produce from their booth at the farmers market, but this was the first time I had been to their farm. After taking photos all morning, they invited us to stay for lunch. We gathered in the kitchen still taking photos and helping with the meal and then setting up a big table outside where we ate with the whole family and crew. It was one of those magical moments where the freshly picked produce transformed into perfectly simple braised vegetables and a salad that couldn’t be any crisper or more delicious. The sun filtered through the shade trees, and we talked about farming and making the world a better place. Shu Takikawa told us of how he came from Japan as a young man and started farming. He has been farming organically now for decades, saving seeds and always experimenting. He’s been a mentor and an inspiration to young farmers. And he just has this way of growing the most amazing lettuce or growing a common carrot or radish with incredibly uncommon taste.
Tell us one of your all-time favorite stories you've published in edible Santa Barbara.
I have many favorites, but one that always comes to mind is the article that Nancy Oster wrote called “Beekeeping.” It was a follow-up article to her piece on appreciating local honeybees and profiles of local beekeepers. I have had a long fascination with bees and, after reading her article on beekeeping, I wanted a hive of my own. Strangely enough while proofreading the final layout of the magazine with her article, my husband called me outside to see a bee swarm that was trying to set up residence in the eaves of our house. I had a list of beekeepers to ask for help in catching a swarm, and I was hopeful that this might be my new hive. Unfortunately, we were not able to capture the bees. Instead, they flew off to establish a home somewhere else. But it didn’t take too long before another beekeeper offered us a swarm and my neighbor and I have been keeping bees ever since.