story published by the Santa Barbara News-Press on 3/8/17
Siblings Ashley Parker Snider and Eli Parker are bringing a slice of Texas to Santa Barbara wine country. Their new restaurant, The Bear and Star, will feature refined ranch cuisine inside the family’s Fess Parker Wine Country Inn in Los Olivos. Doors will open in mid-April.
“The food is going to be fantastic,” Ashley Parker told me this week. “It’s not a barbecue joint, it’s not a steakhouse. We’ve been calling it family recipes with a twist, or re-envisioned.”
|The Fess Parker Wine Country Inn in Los Olivos|
The Bear and Star is, in fact, a tip of the (cowboy) hat to the family’s late patriarch in more ways than one. The Star is an homage to Fess Parker’s native Texas; he was born in Ft. Worth and raised in San Angelo. The Bear refers to Fess Parker’s adopted state of California, where he’d gain fame in film and television by portraying both Davy Crockett in the 1960s and Daniel Boone in the 1960s. Mr. Parker became a cherished member of the Santa Barbara community, too, where he established Fess Parker Winery in the mid-1980s and spearheaded multiple hospitality and development projects.
The cuisine at The Bear and Star will be intrinsically connected to the 700-acre family estate nearby, along Foxen Canyon Road, where much of the food will be sourced. There, the family raises dozens of Wagyu cattle that are often fed with the pomace byproduct of the family winery. The property is also home to chickens, quail, rabbits, pigs, and bees, as well as heirloom fruits and organic vegetables.
|Chef Jojn Cox (credit: Kodiak Greenwood)|
“Connecting the restaurant to our family ranch is something we’ve always dreamed about,” says Eli Parker.
“It’s all about synergy,” adds Ashley.
At the helm of the kitchen will be Chef John Cox, a Texas native who formerly led the Sierra Mar culinary team at the deluxe Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur. His team will include Santa Barbara native Chef Jeremy Tummel and Sous Chef Trent Shank. Andrew Scherer has been named general manager.
The restaurant is divided in to four distinct environments, including a Chef’s Room for classes and private dining groups and a Wine Room for special events. The Bar & Lounge opens to an airy terrace along Grand Avenue, where breakfast, brunch and lunch will be served. The 50-seat Dining Room, decked out in oversize chairs and velvet banquettes, will welcome guests in the evening.
|The Bear and Star's smoker (credit: John Cox)|
The crux of Chef Cox’s cooking will be performed on the Parker family’s newly acquired 30-foot, reverse-flow Texas smoker. “It’s the neatest thing – it’s like a mobile kitchen,” says Ashley Parker. The self-contained wood-fire kitchen houses a Big Green Egg barbecue, pizza oven, sink with running water, onboard refrigeration and lighting.
The Bear and Star is, in many ways, a return to their roots for the Parker siblings. The family ran the space as Restaurant Marcella for many years before it was leased to restaurateur Petros Benekos in 2008. Petros Restaurant closed last summer (although three sister eateries, including one in Santa Barbara, remain).
Regaining control with The Bear and Star will allow the Parkers to better manage it in concert with the Fess Parker Wine Country Inn, as well as bolster the AAA 4-Diamond hotel’s room service and poolside service. Adds Ashley, “Guests will have a more cohesive experience overall.”
For more information, keep an eye on thebearandstar.com.