There is a new and fantabulous shop in Santa Barbara called Isabella Gourmet Foods. My oh my oh my am I ever excited about it! The (adorable!) owner, Amy Isabella Chalker describes her new shop as “Santa Barbara’s whimsical answer to New York City’s venerable Dean & Deluca, serving its patrons the most unique gourmet foods the area has to offer.” This description is spot ON and the shop is a real Silver Lining addition to Santa Barbara! I literally wanted to try everything and had complete ADD, going from one special product to the next.
Amy kindly took the time to answer some questions to learn more about her wonderful new spot.
They do fabulous gift baskets and picnics!
What is the Mission of Isabella Gourmet Foods? Isabella Gourmet Foods seeks to highlight the local food community by offering artisan, organic products and produce from primarily the Central Coast area, as well as select artisan items from the East Coast. The experience of shopping here is also meant to inspire customers to reflect on their own food journeys, with intimate stories behind each and every product.
What is your favorite product? Sandcastles, a vegan Moroccan shortbread cookie by Black & Blanco out of New York have won us over with each of their 4 flavors (Vanilla Black Sesame, Chocolate Infrared, Maple Dusted Cardamom, and Marzipan). The coconut oil gives them an amazing melt-in-your mouth texture. Did I mention that they’re vegan?!
What is your best selling product? It’a a tie between our New England Salt Water Taffy from the oldest candy company in the country (and the taffy I grew up on), and Kelsey’s Vegan Fudge and Vegan, Gluten-free Scones. Talk to me in a week when our freezer arrives and we start to carry our frozen treats-my answers might shift a bit!
I am flipping for these crackers! Oh my goodness!
What is your background and how does it inform what you are doing now? Growing up in Chatham on Cape Cod, I lived a moderately-sheltered, idealic childhood on the seashore, spending summers dining on lobster and clams that my father picked from the ocean, and winters huddled against our wood stove, hot chocolate and squash rolls in hand. Like many, my early food experiences framed moments of my life like photographs; I can smell the King Arthur Cake my mother baked every birthday and taste the strawberries we picked in August. When I moved to New York City, and then Boston, for college, I was introduced to a new layer of the food world-entire restaurants devoted to the vegan diet, food prepared equally for aesthetic appeal and flavor, and food carts showcasing ethnic specialties from strange and foreign lands. At some point in the midst of that food melting pot, I knew I wanted to spend my life studying and, more importantly, enjoying the cultural, social, and health implications of food.
How does your East Coast life compare with your West Coast life? The West Coast for me is like your favorite babysitter growing up; you are allowed experiences that your parents would never dream of permitting, it feels like a mini-vacation every time the sitter comes. But at the end of the day, your parents are still your parents who shape and mold you, and the East Coast is that for me-I will always root for my New England sports teams and prefer Twizzlers to Red Vines. I will always have a soft spot for the half Cape houses with their salt-weathered shingles and the forsythia bushes that bloom every Spring. But the West Coast is a great, charismatic (long-term) babysitter:)
At the risk of sounding cliche, my life is one big silver lining! To have had the experiences I have-owning Isabella Massage & Nutrition Services and now Isabella Gourmet Foods, traveling across the country and the world, living in two of the most beautiful coastal towns and in two of the most dynamic cities in the US-all before the age of 30 feels incredibly humbling.
This is my new favorite sandwich. It is mouth wateringly good!
Isabella Gourmet Foods is located at 5 E Figueroa St, at the corner of State Street in La Arcada Court. Enjoy!