We Santa Barbarans are not shy about our love of food—self-proclaimed foodies, farmers’ market fanatics and fine wine connoisseurs among us—and it seems like we just can’t get enough of the “live local” movement. Thankfully, an East-Coast transplant by the name of Amy Isabella Chalker has recently opened a boutique artisanal-food mecca on Figueroa St., helping us satisfy our need for the freshest produce and tastiest treats that our town (and Chalker’s native Cape Cod) have to offer.
Welcome to Isabella Gourmet Foods.
La Arcada‘s newest tenant, Isabella Gourmet Foods is a long-awaited dream of Chalker’s. Eight years after moving from the East Coast in 2005 to pursue a dietetic internship at Cal Poly, Chalker is finally opening the storefront she always dreamed of, offering local, handmade artisan goods and (unbeknownst to most) farmers’ market produce at a one-stop shop for all things gourmet.
“I’ve wanted to do this for forever,” Chalker says, sitting at her cozy desk in the loft of the store. “I was inspired by growing up on Cape Cod, where there are lots of little corner stores and general stores, and these places really reflected my childhood. When I moved here, I already had the idea, but being here, I wanted to bring a piece of my New England upbringing to Santa Barbara.”
Isabella’s stocks local favorites such as Ojai Olive Oil Company‘s vinegars and oils, The Juice Club‘s delicious elixirs, Alchemy Vinegar Works‘ vinegars and oils, Genuine Bread Co. loaves, Simply Pies loot, Ocean Ranch Organics granola, so-far best-selling Isabella’s Cookie Company sweets(no relation, but an appropriate name nonetheless) and much, much more.
Chalker’s favorite? “I’m really in love with these Moroccan shortbread cookies from a company called Black and Blanco. The kicker is they’re vegan. It’s a fantastic product; I have four flavors of them and they’re equally addictive.”
Roughly 15% of the inventory is sourced directly from Chalker’s East Coast roots, with more products in mind for the future. She’s especially hoping to bring over Cape Cod Potato Chips, one of her favorites, as well as to work with local catering companies to create New England faves such as squash rolls.
With experience in nutrition consulting also under Chalker’s belt, she’s hoping to soon host talks, workshops, tours and events with different vendors coming to discuss their products.
Best of all, with the store’s opening this past Wednesday (May 8), you’re sure to find the perfect gift for your foodie mom inside, just in time for Mother’s Day!
You’ve got to love an East Coaster who seems to enjoy our town as much as we do. Keep an eye out for new products coming into the store.
-Taylor Micaela Davis