Root vegetables carrots and beet at Sea to Sky Farm
Root vegetables like carrots and beet are sweeter in the winter, and worth braving the rain to purchase at a Santa Cruz County farmers market.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Food & Drink

Lily Belli on Food: Farmers markets weathering storms, Kinch’s next moves, EcoFarm & a big announcement

This week, Lily covers how local farmers markets have fared, a three-headed new venture for Santa Cruz-based chef David Kinch and the return of a notable farming conference.

‘A hardier bunch’: Santa Cruz County farmers markets soldier on amid deluge

A scene from the downtown Santa Cruz farmers market.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

As wave after wave of storms took aim at the Central Coast, local farmers markets remained open for business. Read more here.

Kinch’s next move: Another Mentone and Manresa Bread, plus an eatery TBA, in big Los Gatos complex

Chef David Kinch
(Via Facebook)

When he announced the closure of Michelin darling Manresa at the end of 2022, Santa Cruz-based chef David Kinch said he aimed to pursue “long-neglected passions.” What those might be is now coming into focus. Read more here.

Gearing up as EcoFarm Conference brings organic focus back to Monterey

The EcoFarm Conference returns to Monterey on Jan. 18-21.
(Via Facebook)

The annual EcoFarm Conference returns this week to the Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds in Monterey, and Lily Belli is excited to attend for the first time. Read more here.


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If you’re looking for a little more sunshine in your life, check out Busy Bees Café on 41st Avenue in Capitola. Chef Ty Pearce’s from-scratch menu of breakfast classics, including biscuit sandwiches, breakfast burritos, hot and cold sandwiches and homemade bread and more, will warm you from the inside out. Don’t miss out on the house-made cinnamon rolls! More info in Friday’s Eaters Digest.


“No shot was refused that night. And before long we were all laughing and having a great New Year’s Eve.” Azra Simonetti, owner of Tortilla Flats in Soquel, recounts how strangers stopped into her restaurant during the storm of Dec. 31 to check on her and her staff, offer sandbags or help shovel sand into them. The evening turned out to be a safe and joyous one, where the word “village” in Soquel Village took on new meaning. Read the story from my colleague Mark Conley.


I have some exciting personal news to share — while I’ve been seeking out the best of Santa Cruz County’s food scene and reporting on local dining news, I’ve been eating for two these past few months. Yes, the Belli family is growing! My husband, Mike, and I are very excited to meet our little girl, who is scheduled to arrive in early March.

What does this mean for Lookout’s food coverage? I will be on maternity leave for several months starting the first week of March, and will return this summer. In the meantime, food and drink coverage will be provided by knowledgeable and talented contributors — more info on that TBA.

Some of you might be wondering — does our son, Marco, have any idea what’s coming? Mike and I have tried to prepare him for the arrival of his sister, but because he will only be 22 months old when she arrives, we’re pretty sure he’s oblivious. For example, we’ve told him that his sister is in Mama’s tummy, and is going to come out soon. But when we ask him, “Where’s your sister?” he’s equally as likely to point to his own stomach as he is to mine. Although he might be wondering why Mama is a little more uncomfortable to lie on these days …

When I return, expect an influx of information on the best in local beer, wine, cocktails, raw oysters, sushi, turkey sandwiches, rare steak and other delights I’ve had to neglect these past few months. Until then, expect uninterrupted coverage through the end of February.


… “The Menu,” and as soon as it started, I knew I was going to get totally roasted. The movie, a black comedy horror film starring Ralph Fiennes as an egomaniac chef, centers around a cast of characters who visit a remote island to enjoy an exclusive fine dining experience for more than $1,000 per person, with terrifying results. My husband, Mike, gave me a very pointed look when Nicholas Hoult’s character, an obnoxious fanboy foodie, slaps the hand of his date — played by Anya Taylor-Joy — away from an amuse-bouche so he can take a photo, and the hits didn’t stop there. “The Menu” reveals food culture stereotype after stereotype in excruciating detail, with references to famous restaurants like Noma, Alinea and Fäviken. I found it highly entertaining, and Mike and I couldn’t stop talking about it for days afterward. If you’d like to watch it, it’s streaming now on HBO Max.


The gas stove regulation uproar, explained (Vox)
From Mount Eden to Stag’s Leap: Warren Winiarski still seeks perfection (Edible Monterey Bay)
Noma spawned a world of imitators, but the restaurant remains an original (New York Times)

Enjoy the sunshine this week!